Percent of primary applicants that actually complete their secondary (assuming no screen)?

Screamapillar

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I enjoy tracking the stats on anything in my free time (just ask to see my excel spreadsheet tracking the specific gravity of my homebrews), and so I became very interested when I saw that, for one school (Johns Hopkins), only about 71.5% of people who submit a primary end up submitting a secondary, even though it appears they have no screen. I took a look at their secondary questions, and while it seems more cumbersome than others, the questions are fairly boilerplate and I see no reason to take one look and say nah.

Is this common at schools that don't screen for secondaries? If you're only competing against people who complete secondaries at JHU, then you gain a whole ~2% (lucky you) in your admissions confidence. However, I could see this not really mattering as potentially those who decide not to continue applying are on average not as competitive. What do people think?
 

lumya

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I have no data to back up it up but my theory is cost. It’s one thing to add that next school for $40 to your primary application on the off chance they’ll accept you, it’s another to take that leap of faith to pay up the secondary app fee if you don’t think you stand a chance, especially when you realize lots of other schools are liberal with their secondary apps. I’m sure there’s psych studies about how people are more willing to pay when it’s the difference between $900 or $940 but aren’t willing to pay a stand alone ~$150.
 
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Screamapillar

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I have no data to back up it up but my theory is cost. It’s one thing to add that next school for $40 to your primary application on the off chance they’ll accept you, it’s another to take that leap of faith to pay up the secondary app fee if you don’t think you stand a chance, especially when you realize lots of other schools are liberal with their secondary apps. I’m sure there’s psych studies about how people are more willing to pay when it’s the difference between $900 or $940 but aren’t willing to pay a stand alone ~$150.
So in your theory the secondary/primary rate would be low at very selective schools and maybe low-yield schools as well? That makes sense to me. And I can definitely sympathize with the participants in those studies, when I have a few things in an Amazon cart its very easy to throw in another $10 item that I have no business buying.

Does anyone have data like this on more schools? I did some brief googling but if this data is out there it is probably hidden somewhere in the troves of med school websites. I wouldn't say this would change the calculus about applying to selective schools like Hopkins, but it may change the calculus about applying to low-yield schools, which may not be as low-yield as they seem if <70% of primary applicants are continuing completing the initial application process.
 
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Faha

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I saw an online presentation posted by someone about a presentation done by an admissions committee member from a private MD school. It was done at a school that had a significant number of premeds who applied there. 30% of applicants never submitted secondaries. Also 20% who were offered interviews never accepted the interview offer or cancelled. There was also an Ivy League MD school that listed their number of applicants for the year and it was only 80% of what was on MSAR. I believe that the percentage is probably 10% to 35% depending on the school type. State public schools probably have a high rate of completion since the state public school is often the only hope for average or below average applicants and the tuition is also low. Low and mid tier MD schools are probably in the 30% range. They are probably more likely to have high stat applicants not complete the secondaries when those applicants receive an early II from a high tier school or their state public school. For high tier schools like Johns Hopkins it is more likely the weaker applicants that do not complete secondaries. They realize it is probably not worth it to spend all that money on reach schools where they have no chance. So the odds are better when one accounts for 30% who do not complete secondaries and of those who are offered interviews 20% never attend them.
 
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TehTeddy

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That's something that confused me as well. I mean, surely everyone knows they need to complete a secondary for their file to be reviewed, and that secondaries cost money. If so, why would they complete a primary with no intention of doing the secondary? That's just money down the drain.
 
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Screamapillar

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I saw an online presentation posted by someone about a presentation done by an admissions committee member from a private MD school. It was done at a school that had a significant number of premeds who applied there. 30% of applicants never submitted secondaries. Also 20% who were offered interviews never accepted the interview offer or cancelled. There was also an Ivy League MD school that listed their number of applicants for the year and it was only 80% of what was on MSAR. I believe that the percentage is probably 10% to 35% depending on the school type. State public schools probably have a high rate of completion since the state public school is often the only hope for average or below average applicants and the tuition is also low. Low and mid tier MD schools are probably in the 30% range. They are probably more likely to have high stat applicants not complete the secondaries when those applicants receive an early II from a high tier school or their state public school. For high tier schools like Johns Hopkins it is more likely the weaker applicants that do not complete secondaries. They realize it is probably not worth it to spend all that money on reach schools where they have no chance. So the odds are better when one accounts for 30% who do not complete secondaries and of those who are offered interviews 20% never attend them.

That makes sense. 10% wouldn't be hugely surprising (life happens, people get bogged down with other secondaries, etc) but I feel like 30% is pretty significant. It doesn't make a huge difference, but maybe can help boost the confidence of some people (myself included) who are looking at the acceptance percentages. I'd love a full breakdown of [apps submitted, secondaries submitted, II offered, II attended, acceptances, waitlists, acceptances off of waitlists, and matriculation] for every school, as well as a cross section of demographics, MCAT, GPA, and EC's for each of these populations, but I'm very greedy :)

That's something that confused me as well. I mean, surely everyone knows they need to complete a secondary for their file to be reviewed, and that secondaries cost money. If so, why would they complete a primary with no intention of doing the secondary? That's just money down the drain.

I definitely agreed, but @lumya makes a good point. When looking at a list of schools, sometimes you might say "hey, what's another $40 for a shot", but be a little more skeptical when the secondary arrives.
 

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I saw an online presentation posted by someone about a presentation done by an admissions committee member from a private MD school. It was done at a school that had a significant number of premeds who applied there. 30% of applicants never submitted secondaries. Also 20% who were offered interviews never accepted the interview offer or cancelled. There was also an Ivy League MD school that listed their number of applicants for the year and it was only 80% of what was on MSAR. I believe that the percentage is probably 10% to 35% depending on the school type. State public schools probably have a high rate of completion since the state public school is often the only hope for average or below average applicants and the tuition is also low. Low and mid tier MD schools are probably in the 30% range. They are probably more likely to have high stat applicants not complete the secondaries when those applicants receive an early II from a high tier school or their state public school. For high tier schools like Johns Hopkins it is more likely the weaker applicants that do not complete secondaries. They realize it is probably not worth it to spend all that money on reach schools where they have no chance. So the odds are better when one accounts for 30% who do not complete secondaries and of those who are offered interviews 20% never attend them.

This is really interesting. And I think it gives a different and maybe more positive spin to the whole "only 40% of applicants get at least one acceptance" statistic.
 

gonnif

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That's something that confused me as well. I mean, surely everyone knows they need to complete a secondary for their file to be reviewed, and that secondaries cost money. If so, why would they complete a primary with no intention of doing the secondary? That's just money down the drain.
Because people start saying I will apply to 15- 20-25 schools and then they get hammered with secondaries. They run out time, steam, or money
 
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LizzyM

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Could it be that people are using Hopkins as a throw away? It does seem like a lot but for many of those applicants, this could be a reach and $150 for a reach that requires several hours of effort for the secondary might be a bridge too far.
 
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Could some of the discrepancy be due to the fact that people apply to tons of schools from the get go, receive their MCAT score during the verification process, and trim their school list based on their realistic chances? Just a guess.
 

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Could some of the discrepancy be due to the fact that people apply to tons of schools from the get go, receive their MCAT score during the verification process, and trim their school list based on their realistic chances? Just a guess.
People were applying to more than one school without having MCAT score?
 

Faha

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Unfortunately, MSAR does not include this and other key statistics. The number of completed secondaries should be included in their tables. Also the number of acceptances each school offers each year. School acceptance data is available elsewhere sometimes. One school of 160 students may accept 500 applicants to fill the class whereas another school with 160 students (ie: Harvard) may only accept 220 students to fill their class. There is a map included that shows which states admitted students are from but no indication of how many from each state. That is also key data that is missing. U Washington receives thousands of applicants from non residents each year because the MSAR shows that half their class are non residents. A map showing the numbers from each state would show that almost all the non residents are from Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Applicants need this information.
 
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openstage

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I think reading the secondary prompts does cause you to reflect upon your best qualities and second guess your chances - "imposter syndrome." When you're staring down the barrel of 25+ schools you start to weigh your odds.

I also think - plain and simple, many people don't like to write. Think about this: many of the best qualified undergraduates have focused on STEM skills. You wonder if some of these students prefer a seriously-hard math equation, or a process oriented research program, over writing a heartfelt reflective essay.
 
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KnightDoc

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People were applying to more than one school without having MCAT score?
I REALLY think @gonnif nailed it.

Human nature is that people start out very ambitious, and then, when they are in the thick of it, it starts hitting them how much time and effort each secondary is taking. Then, the reality of how much each app is costing, what the odds of success actually look like, and what the other commitments are on their time, and they cut their losses and move on.

It doesn't really make a lot of sense to me either, as I'd have a pretty good plan in mind before I spent the $40 on the primary, but the 20-30% attrition rate seems to be pretty consistent across all schools, and it seems unlikely that so many people, and all different tiers of school, would submit without scores to so many schools, every year, and then bail when they see their scores.

At the end of the day, what's the difference? Does the admit rate take into account the people who submit primaries and not secondaries? I would assume not, since an application is not complete until everything is in. For that matter, hopefully an adcom can weigh in -- are you considered a reapplicant if you submit a primary but not a secondary and then actually follow through in a subsequent cycle?
 

Screamapillar

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I REALLY think @gonnif nailed it.

Human nature is that people start out very ambitious, and then, when they are in the thick of it, it starts hitting them how much time and effort each secondary is taking. Then, the reality of how much each app is costing, what the odds of success actually look like, and what the other commitments are on their time, and they cut their losses and move on.

It doesn't really make a lot of sense to me either, as I'd have a pretty good plan in mind before I spent the $40 on the primary, but the 20-30% attrition rate seems to be pretty consistent across all schools, and it seems unlikely that so many people, and all different tiers of school, would submit without scores to so many schools, every year, and then bail when they see their scores.

At the end of the day, what's the difference? Does the admit rate take into account the people who submit primaries and not secondaries? I would assume not, since an application is not complete until everything is in. For that matter, hopefully an adcom can weigh in -- are you considered a reapplicant if you submit a primary but not a secondary and then actually follow through in a subsequent cycle?
To answer the question in your last paragraph regarding reported acceptance rates, it depends where you look. If you google "johns hopkins med school admission rate", you will find some sites that use the 3.9% value that JHU reports on the page linked in the OP. You will find some that reference the 6% that you get when you use purely those that completed secondaries. And you will find some that reference the 4.3% you get when you actually divide the number of acceptances by the number of primaries (no idea where the 3.9% JHU claims comes from). If you check MSAR though, the only "applicants" number available is the number of primary applicants (6016). From this, we can assume that the MSAR value is the primaries submitted, not the complete secondaries.

So for another school like Georgetown (v low yield), which had 13149 primary applications according to MSAR and had 375 acceptances (citation: @TheDataKing post II A rate), their actual acceptance rate would be higher than the reported 2.9% (citation: USNWR) if we solely looked at acceptances from completed secondaries. If only 70% of applicants sent in secondaries, that acceptance rate rises to just over 4%. Not a huge jump, but not insignificant, especially since I might imagine a lot of people shoot their initial shot at Gtown and then bail when they start to get other II's because they're scared off by the low yield, leading to potentially even lower secondary completion rates. (Alibi: I have no idea how @TheDataKing got this number, and he may very well have worked backward from the reported acceptance rate). No matter how you cut it though, it seems the MSAR applicant number is just primaries verified, secondary numbers are rarely visible, and how schools determine their admit rate is not clear. And as @Faha said in that case study, a decent portion of applicants that were offered interviews declined (although this obviously has less impact because only a small subsection of applicants are offered interviews to begin with).

Now does this affect anything? Of course not, no one is going to get in because they found out they had a 1-2% higher chance. They either were or they weren't. I just think it indicates the process may be slightly less dreadfully competitive as people assume, and may help people feel better about their chances in a very uncertain and opaque application process.
 
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KnightDoc

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To answer the question in your last paragraph regarding reported acceptance rates, it depends where you look. If you google "johns hopkins med school admission rate", you will find some sites that use the 3.9% value that JHU reports on the page linked in the OP. You will find some that reference the 6% that you get when you use purely those that completed secondaries. And you will find some that reference the 4.3% you get when you actually divide the number of acceptances by the number of primaries (no idea where the 3.9% JHU claims comes from). If you check MSAR though, the only "applicants" number available is the number of primary applicants (6016). From this, we can assume that the MSAR value is the primaries submitted, not the complete secondaries.

So for another school like Georgetown (v low yield), which had 13149 primary applications according to MSAR and had 375 acceptances (citation: @TheDataKing post II A rate), their actual acceptance rate would be higher than the reported 2.9% (citation: USNWR) if we solely looked at acceptances from completed secondaries. If only 70% of applicants sent in secondaries, that acceptance rate rises to just over 4%. Not a huge jump, but not insignificant, especially since I might imagine a lot of people shoot their initial shot at Gtown and then bail when they start to get other II's because they're scared off by the low yield, leading to potentially even lower secondary completion rates. (Alibi: I have no idea how @TheDataKing got this number, and he may very well have worked backward from the reported acceptance rate). No matter how you cut it though, it seems the MSAR applicant number is just primaries verified, secondary numbers are rarely visible, and how schools determine their admit rate is not clear. And as @Faha said in that case study, a decent portion of applicants that were offered interviews declined (although this obviously has less impact because only a small subsection of applicants are offered interviews to begin with).

Now does this affect anything? Of course not, no one is going to get in because they found out they had a 1-2% higher chance. They either were or they weren't. I just think it indicates the process may be slightly less dreadfully competitive as people assume, and may help people feel better about their chances in a very uncertain and opaque application process.
Thank you very much for all the work you put into the analysis and the post. And, for the record, yes, a 2% bump in a 4% acceptance is significant (50%!). This is helpful -- actual acceptance rates are around 1/3 to 1/2 higher than reported, across the board, when taking into account the number of people who don't submit secondaries.
 
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I was one of those people who submitted a primary to Johns Hopkins but not a secondary (apologies to my bank account). Obviously I am only one person so my reasons may not be the same as the other ~30% who didn’t finish their apps but here were mine: Secondary burnout. Dwindling funds as I began to realize how expensive the process was. Realizing I liked the idea of Hopkins more than the school itself (wouldn’t be happy in Baltimore, since JHU is so well-known I thought I had to submit an app when making my school list), and so I didn’t finish the secondary despite my stats on par with their msar data. Also pulled my app from UMD for the same reasons. I imagine other people’s reasons may be similar (costs, Location, secondary fatigue) at JHU and other schools as well.
 
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TheDataKing

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To answer the question in your last paragraph regarding reported acceptance rates, it depends where you look. If you google "johns hopkins med school admission rate", you will find some sites that use the 3.9% value that JHU reports on the page linked in the OP. You will find some that reference the 6% that you get when you use purely those that completed secondaries. And you will find some that reference the 4.3% you get when you actually divide the number of acceptances by the number of primaries (no idea where the 3.9% JHU claims comes from). If you check MSAR though, the only "applicants" number available is the number of primary applicants (6016). From this, we can assume that the MSAR value is the primaries submitted, not the complete secondaries.

So for another school like Georgetown (v low yield), which had 13149 primary applications according to MSAR and had 375 acceptances (citation: @TheDataKing post II A rate), their actual acceptance rate would be higher than the reported 2.9% (citation: USNWR) if we solely looked at acceptances from completed secondaries. If only 70% of applicants sent in secondaries, that acceptance rate rises to just over 4%. Not a huge jump, but not insignificant, especially since I might imagine a lot of people shoot their initial shot at Gtown and then bail when they start to get other II's because they're scared off by the low yield, leading to potentially even lower secondary completion rates. (Alibi: I have no idea how @TheDataKing got this number, and he may very well have worked backward from the reported acceptance rate). No matter how you cut it though, it seems the MSAR applicant number is just primaries verified, secondary numbers are rarely visible, and how schools determine their admit rate is not clear. And as @Faha said in that case study, a decent portion of applicants that were offered interviews declined (although this obviously has less impact because only a small subsection of applicants are offered interviews to begin with).

Now does this affect anything? Of course not, no one is going to get in because they found out they had a 1-2% higher chance. They either were or they weren't. I just think it indicates the process may be slightly less dreadfully competitive as people assume, and may help people feel better about their chances in a very uncertain and opaque application process.
All of my info is taken from US News and World Report!
 
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Screamapillar

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Duke secondary has stopped many a good applicant in their tracks
This raises a question - do you think its likely that schools with behemoth secondaries are likely to be even more affected by secondary dropoff, such that their true acceptance rate might skew even higher than say one that just asks "Why X med school?"?
 

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This raises a question - do you think its likely that schools with behemoth secondaries are likely to be even more affected by secondary dropoff, such that their true acceptance rate might skew even higher than say one that just asks "Why X med school?"?

Definitely - there is a video floating around in an old UMiami thread from their Dean of Admissions giving a lecture to premeds at one of the UCs, and he gave a lot of specific numbers. Their primary --> secondary completion drop off rate was like 50% and they have a notoriously long secondary.

Just to add another data point, I watched an online recruiting session for Georgetown in spring of 2019, and they stated (with specific numbers that I can't recall) that they received around 13,000 primary applications and received ~9,900 completed secondaries. To be honest I don't think that drop off is due to the fact that it is particularly low yield, as the number of applicants who are familiar with that concept AND meet those very specific circumstances above can't be over a few hundred. I would think that that is a pretty average rate of secondary burnout and would be similar at most schools.
 

KnightDoc

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This raises a question - do you think its likely that schools with behemoth secondaries are likely to be even more affected by secondary dropoff, such that their true acceptance rate might skew even higher than say one that just asks "Why X med school?"?
Seems like a reasonable assumption.
 

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This raises a question - do you think its likely that schools with behemoth secondaries are likely to be even more affected by secondary dropoff, such that their true acceptance rate might skew even higher than say one that just asks "Why X med school?"?
They still get ~7000 apps for 121 seats.
 

KnightDoc

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They still get ~7000 apps for 121 seats.
Yes, the question we are asking is whether the real number is 7,000 or 5,500. If the reported number of apps reflects the primary only, then the numbers, while still ridiculous, are just a little less daunting.
 
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