How long do most people spend writing their PS and secondaries?



I was wondering if there was a general consensus. I tend to be the type of writer that just writes and doesn't do much editing. Maybe its a bad habit, but I have always done really well with papers. I have 2 papers that weren't an A in my 4 years of college, and one I wrote was a 8 page research paper in 3 hours when a due date crept up on me (oddly the only time ever in 4 years).

Don't get me wrong, I check for spelling, grammar, and general cohesiveness, but I tend to get what I want to say across the first time. Since this is more important than most papers I have ever written I want to know how long I should spend, even if I have to force myself.


Membership Revoked
Nov 5, 2014
Medical Student
I did just one draft on each correcting errors as I wrote. Took on average 1 hour per 200 words.


2+ Year Member
Jun 11, 2016
Medical Student
*Take with a grain of salt, I'm very neurotic about what I write*

I write a rough draft which is pretty much just word vomit, and then I read it out loud to myself and correct anything that sounds weird or wrong. Then I go back and make sure that I actually answered the prompt and I'm creating the right image. Then I send it to my mom, since she's an English teacher and knows all the little grammar things I've forgotten since high school. She points out the errors, I correct them, and then I go back through my secondary and compare it to my primary to make sure I'm being consistent and not repeating myself.

All in all, I can get a secondary from a blank page to finished and ready to send out in around two days.

Do what works for you though! There shouldn't be a consensus on what to do for secondaries, since everyone has a different writing and editing style. Some people do a hundred drafts, some people do one. Both kinds get into med school.


2+ Year Member
Dec 22, 2015
Medical Student
It varies drastically. As with everything related to medical education, do what's best for you and ignore what everyone else does.

I wrote 2 drafts of my PS and went through it line-by-line one time with a friend and then I was done. I wrote my secondaries during my down time at work and submitted most of them within 2-5hrs of getting them.

I knew what I wanted to say, I'm a good writer, and many of the essays were similar topics. I would have been great in a PR career and I had confidence in everything I wrote. Revising them beyond basic editing wouldn't have added anything to their quality.

If you feel comfortable churning things out, you probably know best. Good luck!


The moon is just the back of the sun.
2+ Year Member
May 18, 2016
Medical Student
I have pretty much the same exact writing habits: write one draft, hand it in, good grade, minimal editing but I struggled a bit more with my personal statement. (because I cared much more about it) for some people, like me, it can be hard to figure out what you want your message to be, because this will be the most prominent narrative they have of you. You need to be able to fit your motivations and what makes you unique into two short pages and have it be cohesive, make sense, unique, interesting, etc. Just about every essay I wrote, I wasn't restricted on length and when I was it was longer than two pages. I had the toughest time fitting what I wanted to say into a strong personal statement because there is so much I wanted to put into it. I ended up leaving out a lot of stuff in order to get the personal statement I knew would leave a good impression on adcoms and be explanatory about myself. I would suggest word vomiting and just writing the way you usually do, don't worry about length. Afterwards, cut down paragraphs, material, edit, etc. I have never edited something so much in my life. I think I wrote five completely different drafts before I finally hit the nail on the head. If you want to read my PS then just PM me but definitely put more time and energy into it to make sure it is absolutely what you want the adcoms to remember you by. I also utilized the personal statement readers on SDN which helped a ton! They really helped me make my thoughts more clear and concise.

Lost In Transcription

reports of my assimilation are greatly exaggerated
2+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2016
Probably still at work
I went through about 8 completely different drafts. In fact, I wanted to apply next cycle because of how difficult the PS was and it put me back time-wise.

I usually go with an edited draft, but this has been much harder. I do very poorly at this style of writing.


2+ Year Member
Jun 24, 2015
I've been prewriting secondaries since May. Kicked into real high gear early this month after I got verified, been putting in 4-8 hours a day pretty much every day for the whole month of July. I am also applying to 42 schools though because I am a crazy person.

I think I will be done this week, and about damn time. I'm starting to feel nausea at the sight of Microsoft Word...