How To Successfully Tackle a Supplemental Application?

A supplemental application request is certainly a positive sign that the prospective program is interested in knowing the applicant. While the context of a supplemental application varies widely, the basis is the same; a deeper understanding of the applicant. This is the perfect moment to take advantage and showcase your character depth to the programs.

Supplemental applications are questions or essays in addition to CASPA. They may seem tedious and draining, especially after you’ve drained yourself into your personal statement for months! However supplemental applications can be a blessing. Think  of it as an extension of your personal statement, all the anecdotes, all the experiences you couldn’t talk about in your personal statement, you can talk about now. The answers have to be crafted skillfully in order to convey your personality in a concise manner. 

Not all PA schools require supplemental applications, but most do. There are three different methods of supplemental application submissions. Be sure to check the school website, so you don’t miss any deadlines (Download the application organizer here to stay on track!). Applications may be need to be submitted with the CASPA application, they may have different deadlines than the CASPA application or be an invite-only that the program will send via email  after reviewing your CASPA. When you are checking for the deadline and form of the supplemental application, be sure to make a note of the price. The cost supplemental applications can add up and become quite expensive; the average range of supplemental applications is $30-80 per application. 

Supplemental applications often consist of several questions for which you are required to write a short essay. Some essays have no word/character limit, but most questions have a word limit of 250-500 words. There may be overlap between the supplemental application questions and your personal statement, however do not copy and paste from your personal statement. Application reviewers have already read your personal statement and rely on the supplemental application for more information about you. Write something original and new to answer the supplemental application questions. There may be some overlap in what different schools are asking. Before you begin to answer each question individually, organize all your questions based on similarities. You may be able to write one short essay that will address multiple questions. There is a multitude of questions programs may ask, they may ask to clarify any stumbles on your transcript, or ask what you haven’t shared yet or ask for details about who are you are outside of academia. See below for example questions:


  • Why did you choose to apply to this program? 

  • How has your patient care experience influenced your decision to be a PA? 

  • How will you contribute to the diversity of this program? 

  • Can you describe your reasons for applying to this program?

  • What about this program stands out to you as an applicant?

  • Why do you think you would be a good fit for our PA program?

  • Explain how you feel about the role of the Physician Assistant being a dependent practitioner?

  • How have you demonstrated the personality qualities and character that are ideally necessary and sought for in a future physician assistant?

  • Why have you chosen to enter the PA profession?

  • How would you describe what a physician assistant is to someone?

  • Describe what contribution you can make to the PA profession and to our program.

  • Describe what you have done to this point in time to prepare yourself as an applicant for admission to a PA program and to become a physician assistant.

  • What experiences and/or relationships have motivated you toward a career in medicine?

  • Discuss briefly any experiences and/or skills that have made you more sensitive or appreciative of other cultures or the human condition.

  • Describe your patient care experience(s) in detail, including direct patient care responsibilities and duration in estimated number of hours.

  • List the area (or areas) of medicine that appeals to you and briefly explain.

  • Describe those experiences you have had working with diverse populations and what you learned from these experiences about yourself.

  • What academic achievements, life experiences, and personal strengths do you see as important to your successful completion of an accelerated, science intensive graduate-level PA program?

  • What life experiences and personal strengths do you see as important to your success as a caring provider within the PA profession?

  • Briefly discuss any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application, which have not previously been presented from the personal statement on CASPA or elsewhere within the application.  

  • Describe any circumstances indicative of some hardship and explain how you have overcome it. 

  • Provide at least one specific example of how your background or life experiences demonstrate your commitment to our program mission.

  • From what you understand about our PA program, what part of the total learning experience will be most challenging for you?

  • Explain why you should be selected as a student in our program.

  • Have you applied to other PA programs for admission this year?

  • If you are reapplying to our program or any other program, please describe how you have improved your application.

  • What do you like or dislike most about the area you are from; your hometown?

  • Please explain any withdrawals, failures, or leave of absences on your transcript.


If you are applying this year, be sure to check out our Supplemental Application Package (on sale!) for how we can help you hit the supplemental applications out of the park! 

If you’re not applying this year, we strongly advise you to attempt to answer the questions above in preparation of the upcoming application cycle.