6. They miss a crucial opportunity to distinguish themselves.
You will be asked: "Why are you applying to our medical school?" The knee-jerk response of the overwhelming majority of applicants to this question is to list reasons why the med school is convenient for the student. (e.g. "I look forward to taking advantage of your school's ABCD curriculum and EFGH research facility.")
Stop and ask yourself instead: "In what ways will I be able to make a meaningful social, educational and scientific contribution to this medical school community - both the faculty and fellow medical students?" Thinking deeply about this question will help you create an answer that will separate yourself from the pack.
7. They don't proofread.
Applicants cut and paste essays from one medical school's secondary application to another (which is fine)-but then forget to proofread the document for school-specific references (which is NOT fine). Imagine how School X admissions officials might feel as they read an essay assuring them: "School Y is my top choice school!" Remember, the more specifically you tailor one set of application essays for one school, the more references you have to seek out and change as you re-tailor it for another school.
8. They don't do enough research on the medical schools.
Most applicants rely solely on the school's website or prospectus to gather information-and then parrot mission statements back to the medical school as a reason for choosing them (e.g. "I am attracted to School Z because your medical program seeks to improve the human condition through excellence in educating students, physicians and the public.") The laziness of this method is transparently bad. Instead, use your networking skills to uncover insights about the program that aren't available to everyone. Do you know any alumni or current students? And if you don't personally have any contacts, think again: would your friends, relatives, faculty mentors happen to know anybody connected with the school? The "inside information" gained from a quick interview can boost the quality of your responses considerably.