Medical University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine Secondary Application Essay Tips [2023-2024]

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(UCSF) is the leading university dedicated to advancing health worldwide through preeminent biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

The feeling that applicants often get from a UCSF interview is that the school is looking for interesting people, not just smart ones. Sure, your MCATs and GPA need to be high, but these elements alone are not enough to get you accepted. Just one look at the number of UCSF School of Medicine student-run organizations (at last glance it was 29) and special interest groups (also 29) makes one wonder whether everyone at UCSF has started their own club. It seems that the adcom is looking for (and finding) future leaders. Treat your secondary essay as a chance to show them what you are capable of. Write about a time when you took the initiative to solve a problem, modify a protocol, or organize people to support a cause. Show that you can hold your own in a medical school class filled with strong leaders.

UCSF wants applicants who can learn in a wide variety of experiences and situations, so think about a time when you learned in an unusual way or from an unexpected source. If you are interested in a specific area of research or study, be sure to show your knowledge of this field in your secondary. You can also demonstrate evidence of your leadership, but be careful not to overstate your role. If you are lucky enough to get an interview, there is a good chance it will be with someone who is a world expert in your area of interest.

The UCSF Bridges Curriculum emphasizes an “assessment FOR learning” philosophy, which gives students ongoing feedback and advice meant to help guide their next steps. This means that students are evaluated not simply with a grade or score but also with constructive feedback that encourages them to improve and learn as a direct result of the assessment process. Given the program’s unique assessment style, you can expect a UCSF interview to teach you something. Remember, the adcom is looking for candidates who can handle feedback and criticism, so they will notice if you get defensive or resist guidance. They might even push you into admitting that you don’t know an answer on a topic you feel comfortable with. Maintain your composure and show an eagerness to learn from your interviewer. To do well on your UCSF interview, it is crucial to practice your interview skills. Contact a consultant at Accepted to find out more about our mock-interview services and guidance.

Ready to get to work on your UCSF School of Medicine secondary essays? Read on.

  • UCSF School of Medicine secondary essay tips
  • UCSF School of Medicine application deadlines
  • UCSF School of Medicine class profile

UCSF School of Medicine secondary essay tips​

Essay #1​

If you wish to update or expand upon your activities, you may provide additional information below. (500 words)

This is your chance to show the adcom that you are someone who will make a significant impact on the medical field. There is no single way to do this, and in fact, they are hoping to find a variety of people and interests. Show them your leadership, problem-solving, creative, or communicating abilities, and while you’re doing so, make sure to express a healthy degree of humility and compassion. Emphasize instances when you led or inspired others to join you and how that made the impact of your work greater than if you had tackled it alone. Yes, the school wants leaders, but it also wants people who know how to work with others and are dedicated to serving their community.

Essay #2​

If you are a 2023 or earlier college graduate, please use the space below to tell us what you have done since completing your undergraduate degree. (350 words)

In this essay, focus on an experience that highlights your active role in something meaningful to you. A passive description of shadowing or studying will not be enough. Describe a time when you made a difference and your actions led you to understand the world and yourself in a new way. Strategically bring the adcom’s attention to your ability to learn in unexpected situations, and explain how your time after college has made you a better person and a stronger future physician.

Essay #3​

Do you identify as being part of a marginalized group socioeconomically or in terms of access to quality education or healthcare? Please describe how this inequity has impacted you and your community. (350 words)

This question is optional, so if you do not identify with the topic, it’s okay to not submit a response here. Reasons to answer this might include coming from a community with less access to academic opportunities, working through high school or college to support yourself (less time to pursue extracurriculars), parents/family members with limited education who were unable to guide you in applying to college and succeeding once you were there, and societal barriers to your education, including racial or other types of discrimination.

To describe how being part of a marginalized group affected you, briefly discuss the challenges you faced, then focus on how you worked to overcome them. Be sure to highlight your accomplishments and show a positive mind-set. You want this essay to make the adcom hopeful that you will make an impact.

To describe how this affected your community, briefly discuss barriers to healthcare that your family members and/or community had to contend with. Then highlight how this has motivated you to reduce such barriers and ensure healthcare access. Make sure that your essay shows that even though your experience was difficult, it has inspired and equipped you to advocate for change.

UCSF School of Medicine timeline​

AMCAS Application DueOctober 15
Secondary Applications DueRolling admissions policy
Source: UCSF website
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with USCF directly to verify its essay questions, instructions, and deadlines.***

UCSF School of Medicine Class Profile​

Here is a look at the USCF School of Medicine class that entered in 2022 (data taken from the USCF School of Medicine website):

AMCAS applications: 9,090

Students enrolled: 167

Women: 57%

Underrepresented in medicine: 54%

California residents: 71%

Median GPA: 3.87

Median MCAT score: 90th percentile

Check out the Med School Selectivity Index for more stats.

You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are in life. Now that you’re ready for your next achievement, make sure you know how to present yourself to maximum advantage in your UCSF School of Medicine application.

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