How to Ace Your Brown University Secondaries

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

medical student interns

How to Ace Your Brown University Secondaries

In the vast landscape of medical school applications, navigating the Brown University secondaries is a critical and challenging step, marking a defining moment in the journey of any aspiring medical professional.

Known officially as The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, this Ivy League institution is recognized globally for its world-class medical education and research programs. Today, we dive deep into understanding the secondary application process at Brown University, providing you with insights and tips to enhance your chances of securing that coveted acceptance letter.

Understanding Brown University Medical School’s Secondary Application Process

Now let’s take time to understand the process of Brown University secondaries.

Importance of Secondaries in the Admissions Process

Although it may be tempting to view secondary applications as something to simply “get through” and finish, avoid this mindset. The admissions team views secondaries with the same level of importance as they do your primary application: as a window into who you are as a person and a candidate for medical school.

While your primary application provides an overview of your achievements and qualifications, secondaries offer an opportunity to demonstrate how you fit specifically into Brown University’s community. Admissions staff will carefully review your responses to the secondary essay prompts, which will require a thoughtful, well-crafted response.

Group of students studying on a table.

It is important to note that the secondary application process is not just about demonstrating your academic achievements. Admissions staff are looking for well-rounded individuals who can contribute to the school community in a meaningful way. This means that your responses should not only highlight your academic achievements but also your personal experiences and interests.

For example, if you have experience volunteering at a local hospital, be sure to highlight this in your essay. This will demonstrate your commitment to helping others and your passion for the medical field.

Timeline for Submitting Secondaries

Timing is key when it comes to submitting Brown University secondaries. The sooner you complete and submit your application, the higher your chances are for acceptance. Brown University’s medical school requires that you submit your secondary application within two weeks of receiving it. Keep in mind that “receiving” means the date you get the notification email, not the actual day you retrieve and begin the application.

It is important to note that the two-week timeline is not a suggestion but a requirement. Failure to submit your secondary application on time may result in your application being rejected. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead and ensure that you have enough time to complete the application and submit it before the deadline.

Tips for Staying Organized During the Application Process

It is crucial to develop a system for staying on top of your Brown University Medical School secondary application deadlines and requirements. This will help you submit your application on time without sacrificing the quality of your responses.

One useful tip is to create a timeline for completing your application. This timeline should include deadlines for each section of the application, such as essay prompts and recommendation letters. By breaking down the application into smaller, manageable tasks, you can ensure that you are making progress and staying on track.

Consider creating a spreadsheet that includes deadlines for each school you’re applying to, noting when you invite reviewers, and when you send in essay prompts to them. Alternatively, use a tracking app that will notify you when a deadline is approaching.

If you’re applying to multiple schools, it’s essential to keep track of your essay responses and ensure they are tailored to the specific school’s prompts. One possible approach is to keep a document for each school’s application that includes your essay responses and any additional notes about the program or your candidacy for the school.

Another tip is to ask for feedback from others. This can include family members, friends, or even a professional editor. Getting feedback from others can help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that your responses are clear, concise, and well-written.

Ultimately, the key to a successful secondary application is to be honest, thoughtful, and authentic. Admissions staff are looking for individuals who are passionate about medicine and who are committed to making a difference in the world. By demonstrating your unique qualities and experiences, you can increase your chances of being accepted into Brown University’s Medical School.

How to Approach Brown University Secondaries’ Essay Prompts

Are you interested in applying to Brown University Medical School? If so, it’s essential to understand the essay prompts and how to approach them. Brown seeks to assess whether you’re a good fit for their medical school, so your responses should demonstrate your interest in their approach to medical education and commitment to the practice of medicine.

University students talking in front of a laptop.

Analyzing the Essay Prompts

Before you begin writing your responses, it’s important to read through Brown’s essay prompts carefully and analyze what they are looking for. Brown’s essay prompts are designed to help the admissions team learn more about you and what makes you unique.

One of the essential things to do while writing an essay is to research the program and figure out how it aligns with your values and professional aspirations. Make sure to reflect on Brown’s five cornerstones: Science, Compassion, Diversity, Leadership, and Collaboration.

Tips for Writing Compelling Responses

With all the insights you’ve gained from analyzing the essay prompts, it’s time to start putting your thoughts into writing. Here are some tips to help you develop compelling and articulate responses:

  • Answer the Prompt: It might seem obvious, but make sure you’re actually responding to the essay prompt. Don’t go off-topic.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: Sharing personal anecdotes is often more effective than simply saying something. Sharing a specific story from your life that illustrates your point can infuse messaging with authentic feeling.
  • Be Specific: Provide concrete examples to support your ideas. Avoid vague or general statements that could apply to anyone.
  • Avoid Overusing Passive Voice: Although it can be tempting to rely on “passive voice” (e.g. “It was decided”), it’s not as effective in demonstrating action or accountability. Use active voice instead.

Remember, you want to stand out from other applicants, so use specific examples and language that shows your unique qualities and experiences.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Essays

While writing your essays, make sure to avoid simple mistakes that might distract from a potentially strong essay response:

  • Misspellings or Grammatical Errors: Make sure to proofread your work before submitting. A typo or common grammar error may prompt the admissions team to dismiss an otherwise strong essay.
  • Generic Responses: Avoid writing bland essay responses that could apply to any school or program. Ensure that your answer reflects both what Brown medical school stands for, and why it’s a good fit for you.
  • Disorganized Responses: Don’t pack in too much and make your response confusing or difficult to read. Keep to the prompt at hand.

Group of medical students in college hallway

By keeping these tips in mind, you can craft compelling and articulate responses to Brown University secondaries’ essay prompts. Good luck!

Strategies for Addressing Specific Brown University Medical School Essay Topics

Now with all that information in mind, it is important to strategize how you address specific prompts in your Brown University secondaries.

Discussing Your Interest in Brown’s Unique Curriculum

Brown’s ‘Scholarly Concentrations’ curriculum is one of the most unique aspects of the medical program at Brown University. It allows students to specialize in a particular discipline or problem in medicine, providing them with the opportunity to tailor their education to their interests and career goals. This program encourages students to participate in research, community-based initiatives, and develop a personalized course of study.

If you are interested in this program, it is important to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to this unique aspect of the Brown medical school experience. To write effective responses, take a close look at your interests and explore opportunities that will enable you to continue further that interest. Have you conducted medical research, joined student groups that have perspective on public health advocacy? Use this as a way to showcase your interest and experience.

For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in pediatrics, you might consider specializing in child health as part of Brown’s Scholarly Concentrations program. You could discuss your interest in this area of medicine and how you plan to use this program to further your career goals. Alternatively, if you are interested in global health, you might consider specializing in international health and using your education to work with underserved communities around the world.

Demonstrating Your Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Brown University is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community, and this is reflected in the medical school’s admissions process. As a prospective student, it is important to consider these factors when writing your responses. Review the school’s inclusion initiatives and find ways to demonstrate your commitment to these ideals in your responses.

Take time to examine the impact of your experiences and how they’ve influenced your approach to medicine and patient care. Specifically, reflect on aspects of your worldview that might make you a stronger physician candidate. For example, if you have experience working with underserved communities, you might discuss how this experience has shaped your understanding of the importance of cultural competence in healthcare.

It is also important to consider how you plan to contribute to the diversity of the Brown medical school community. This might involve discussing your interest in working with diverse patient populations or your involvement in organizations that promote diversity and inclusion in healthcare.

Highlighting Your Research Experience and Interests

The university encourages medical students to engage in research, and this is reflected in the school’s curriculum and opportunities for students. It is important to highlight research experience in your Brown University secondaries. Utilize your essay response to highlight your past research efforts and interests, and consider how you can apply that experience to your future studies at Brown University’s medical school.

four doctors looking at the camera

Make sure to articulate the outcomes of your past research experience, detailing what you learned and how you applied this knowledge. Then, consider how this research has informed your future goals and how that fits with the Brown experience. For example, if you have conducted research on the genetics of cancer, you might discuss how this experience has led you to pursue a career in oncology and how you plan to use your education to make a difference in this field.

It is also important to consider the unique research opportunities available at Brown University and how you plan to take advantage of them. For example, if you are interested in neuroscience, you might discuss your interest in working with the Brown Institute for Brain Science and how this experience could further your career goals.

Tips for Revising and Editing Your Secondary Essays

As you work on your secondary essays for medical school, it’s important to take the time to revise and edit your work. Here are some tips to help you refine your responses and make them as strong as possible.

Seeking Feedback from Trusted Sources

One of the best ways to improve your essays is to get feedback from people you trust. This could be a supervisor, professor, former coworker, or family friend who has experience with writing or the medical school application process. Ask them to evaluate the strength and clarity of your responses and provide direct opinions on areas that require improvement. It’s important to keep an open mind and be receptive to constructive criticism, as this can help you identify blind spots and make necessary adjustments.

When seeking feedback, it’s also helpful to provide context about the school you’re applying to and the specific essay prompts you’re responding to. This can help your readers understand your goals and tailor their feedback accordingly.

Ensuring Clarity and Coherence in Your Writing

Another key aspect of revising essays in Brown University secondaries is ensuring that your writing is clear and coherent. While drafting your response, take note of any areas where your thoughts seem muddled or unclear. Consider revising your sentences or paragraphs to improve the flow of your writing and make your ideas more accessible to your readers.

Once you’ve completed your essay, it’s important to re-read it multiple times before submitting it. This can help you identify any issues or inconsistencies and polish your prose for reader appeal. Try reading your essay out loud to yourself or having someone else read it to you, as this can help you catch errors or awkward phrasing that you might miss when reading silently.

Avoiding Redundancy and Overused Phrases

Finally, it’s important to avoid using overused phrases or elements that don’t add value to your essay. Common phrases like “I am passionate about medicine” or “I have always wanted to be a doctor” can come across as cliched or insincere, and may not help distinguish you from other applicants.

Instead, try to use your experiences or unique perspectives to express why you genuinely care about medicine and why you would be a good fit for Brown University’s medical school. Consider using specific examples or anecdotes to illustrate your points and make your essay more engaging and memorable.

By following these tips, you can improve the quality of your secondary essays and increase your chances of standing out to admissions committees. Good luck!


Applying to medical school is an arduous process, and the Brown University secondaries represent one of many important milestones along the journey. Though challenging, this stage of the application provides an incredible opportunity to showcase your dedication to medicine, commitment to service, and ability to thrive within Brown’s diverse, collaborative, and innovative medical community.

group of medical students sitting and communing at a stair outside of a medical college

Remember, the pursuit of a medical career is as much about the journey as the destination. Embrace each step, including the secondaries, as a learning experience that not only brings you closer to your goal of attending medical school but also shapes you into the compassionate and skilled healthcare professional you aspire to be. Here’s wishing you all the best in this endeavor!

How AdmissionSight can help you with college admissions

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