Originally Posted by EESH
I think it has more to do with life experiences.
Absolutely - and this speaks to a quality that is just as important, if not more so: maturity.
Often the reason someone gets in their 2nd time applying is because the year off saw them grow as a person in leaps and bounds.
Maturity is invaluable because it contributes to good judgment, professionalism, and the ability to handle the intense stress of medical school.
I strongly believe this because even without being told who the 3rd year applicants were, after spending a year with your classmates in medical school I bet you could point out the people who were admitted after 3rd year 9 out of 10 times. Most of the 3rd years in my class have demonstrated immaturity at one point or another, more so than the people who got in after 4 years or took some time off after graduating. By immaturity I mean anything from showing disrespect by talking loudly in lecture to uncontrollable giggling and crude comments during the genitalia examination clinical skills video.
If you are a 3rd year applicant, my advice is to make sure you demonstrate emphatically on your application and especially in your interview that you have the maturity of a young adult. If it were up to me, though, based on what I have seen, I wouldn't allow 3rd years to get into medical school at all.