How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

People may need letters of recommendation in a variety of situations, such as applying for admission to school, applying for a job or even trying to rent an apartment. Are you writing a letter of recommendation for someone? Here’s what to include in and leave out of an effective letter.

A professional or personal acquaintance may ask you for this type of letter. The document outlines the nature of your relationship with the person in question and why you recommend the person for the job or other need. A letter of recommendation needs to include specific information, and sometimes the person requesting the letter may ask you to mention something specific, such as an attribute or a situation that illustrates why he or she is a good candidate. Letters of recommendation need to be detailed and personal.

Points to Include

An effective letter of recommendation can include a short opening paragraph that describes your relationship to the person you’re recommending. Next, segue into a brief overview of the person’s skills or accomplishments as they pertain to the purpose for the letter. For example, if you’re writing to a prospective employer, mention specific qualifications that make the person an ideal prospect for the job. Include examples of these qualifications if possible by explaining a situation in which your acquaintance demonstrated them. Finish the letter with a brief summary that outlines why you’re making the recommendation.

What Not to Say

Sending a weak or even damaging letter of recommendation is definitely not something you want to do. Avoid writing anything that sounds less than enthusiastic. Don’t provide mere generalities about the person, and try not to sound impersonal with just an overview of facts. Making your recommendation letter another version of the person’s resume can potentially create an impersonal letter. Make sure you flesh out your letter so it’s engaging, full of insight and more than a paragraph or two long.

Letter of Recommendation Sample

If you’re not sure how to write a letter of recommendation, you might peruse sample letters available on the internet. These letters include the basics to cover so you can use them as guides as you create your own letter. You might also use a template for the letter of recommendation. After downloading a template, you can simply add your personal information and details to make it yours.

Ideas for Other Types of Letters

Writing letters may seem outdated, but there are many situations that demand written communication. You may need to write a letter of request, letter of complaint, letter of gratitude and thanks or a letter of concern. Looking at sample letters can make the letter-writing process easier. Letters of encouragement can be a meaningful way of reaching out to professional or personal acquaintances. And, a letter of congratulations might be in order if the acquaintance for whom you wrote the letter of recommendation finds success in their endeavor.

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Med School Insiders

2023 Medical School Letters of Recommendation Guide

  • By Med School Insiders
  • December 6, 2022
  • Medical Student , Pre-med
  • Letters of Recommendation , Medical School Application

Medical school letters of recommendation are often under-appreciated. Not giving your letters the respect and attention they deserve is extremely detrimental to your application and could be the difference between being accepted or rejected.

Letters of recommendation are vital to an effective and successful medical school application. They provide a respected professional’s opinion of you, as opposed to your own claims or the opinion of a biased friend or relative. A quality letter from a professor at an academic institution or someone who works with students through extracurriculars holds a lot of weight.

Letters of recommendation offer an impartial summary of your unique skills from a qualified professional—so they have a big impact on admissions committees.

Learn why letters of recommendation are so important, how to ask, and common mistakes to avoid. In this post, we’ll cover the Why, Who, What, Where, When, and How of letters of recommendation.

Applying through TMDSAS or AACOMAS? We have a guide dedicated to TMDSAS Letters of Recommendation and AACOMAS Letters of Recommendation .

Why Letters of Recommendation Are So Important

Letters of recommendation are a crucial piece of the medical school application. Some argue they’re even more important than the personal statement since the personal statement is naturally biased. After all, a personal statement is all about trying to paint yourself in the absolute best light.

Read our free Step-by-Step Guide: How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement for tips on getting started, what to include, and common mistakes to avoid.

On the other hand, letters of recommendation are written by respected professionals, such as mentors, professors, and physicians. An admissions committee is very likely going to take their word over yours. If the person you ask to write your letter of recommendation has worked closely with you and speaks very highly of you, it’s a big deal.

A negative letter of recommendation is a huge problem. A poor or lukewarm letter of recommendation could do irreparable harm to your application. You must approach this process in advance with plenty of organization, taking care to choose your letters wisely.

Who to Ask For Letters of Recommendation

Letter writer options - professors and professionals

You’ll need to include a total of four to five letters with your medical school application.

Three of these must be academic letters written by undergraduate professors—two science letters and one non-science letter. The two remaining letters are from your extracurriculars, typically research and clinical experience.

While it may be tempting to secure a respected, recognizable name to write your letters, it’s much more important that you choose someone who knows you well and thinks very highly of you. If you’ve only had a few conversations with the person you’re asking to write your letter, it won’t be effective. They simply won’t have that much to say about you and can’t offer much insight into who you really are.

Choose someone who can speak about your strengths on a deep level. The letter will have a much greater impact on the admissions committee.

Use our framework to maximize your chances of success: How to Choose Medical School Letters of Recommendation Writers .

What to Provide to Letter of Recommendation Writers

The people you’re asking to write a letter are busy with their own careers and lives. It’s up to you to make the process as smooth and simple as possible. In order to do so, there are a number of key pieces you need to provide.

  • Submission instructions —Provide the writers of your letters of recommendation with all of the information they need to submit your letter to the submission service. Typically, this is the AMCAS Letter Service (for allopathic medical schools.) Your letter writer won’t be submitting the letter to you; they will need to submit it directly to the service. Provide your letter writer with a Letter Request Form, available in the Main Menu of the Letters of Evaluation section. This form is a PDF generated in the AMCAS application for each of your designated letter authors, and it includes your mailing address, AAMC ID, the Letter ID, and information about how to submit letters to AMCAS. The Letter ID is a unique seven-digit code assigned to each letter entry on your AMCAS application. It must be provided to each letter writer in order to correctly match their letter with the letter entry you created in your application.
  • Updated CV —A comprehensive, organized, and professional summary of your academic, work, and extracurricular achievements to date. If you need any assistance crafting your CV, consider our advising services .
  • Academic transcript.
  • Personal Statement —If available. Ideally, you should have at least a first draft of your personal statement prepared by the time you request a letter, but you may ask for academic letters early in your undergrad. If you don’t have a draft yet, write a brief summary of the reasons you are pursuing medicine, including what makes you a unique and qualified candidate.
  • MCAT score —This should be included in your CV, but it’s possible the letter writer will ask for a more verifiable source, such as a score printout. If you haven’t taken the MCAT, don’t delay asking for a letter just because you don’t have your MCAT score yet.
  • Submission deadline —Include the date in writing, either through email or printed with the materials you provide to the letter writer. Make sure the date is at least a week in advance of when you actually need to submit the letter. We recommend giving letter writers six to eight weeks to complete a letter after receiving the materials listed above. This means it’s important to start the process two to three months before you plan to submit your application.
  • A printed copy of materials —Even though the LOR submission process is completely digital, you may have letter writers who prefer to read and review physical materials. Ask them if they would like you to deliver or mail a printed packet of all of the above. It’s up to you to make this process as simple as possible for them and a crisp manila envelope with all of your materials and submission information is a nice touch for those less digitally inclined.

Where — Asking for Letters of Recommendation Virtually

hands on keyboard - virtual connections

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, asking for a letter of recommendation in-person may not be possible, which means you will need to request a letter via email or possibly over Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and so on. While this may not feel as personal as you intended, all of us need to adapt to our new virtual world.

Virtual meetings are our new normal, so it’s important to cultivate relationships with potential letter writers and mentors online. A mentor could be someone you worked with, someone you met through a mutual contact, or you might find one through professional networks like LinkedIn.

For more advice on how to build relationships with mentors and letter writers online, read our article: Connecting with Mentors Over Zoom .

When to Ask For Letters of Recommendation

Start thinking about your letters of recommendation as soon as possible. It will take time to figure out who to ask and even longer to build strong relationships. If you have someone in mind, they may not have the time or feel they know you well enough, so make sure you have a backup plan and budget extra time in case a letter falls through.

Ask toward the end of your time working together or shortly after the conclusion of a class. Don’t wait months or years. You want the letter writer to have you on their mind so they can write a genuine letter full of fresh enthusiasm.

How to Ask For Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation envelopes

If you are requesting a letter of recommendation virtually, you can use our sample request template. Be sure to personalize the request with a sentence or two about your relationship. This could include involvement in their class/organization, the time you spent working together, what you enjoyed or learned, or how they inspired you.

medical school application letter of recommendation

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1 | think about your letters well in advance.

Letters of recommendation can make or break your medical school application. Who you ask can make all the difference. Approach relationships with professors and mentors with the idea that they could potentially be one of your letters of recommendation.

2 | Work to Develop Strong Relationships

Relationships take time. Cultivate your relationships with professors and prospective mentors as soon as possible, and mark how often you check-in with them using a calendar. Share your goals and successes with them so they can clearly see your progress and watch you grow. Express gratitude, and be sure to help them in whatever way you can. Relationships are two-way streets, after all.

If in-person office hours are difficult, be diligent about scheduling virtual meetings . You still need to build strong relationships even if you are unable to meet in person.

3 | Only Ask People Who Will Give You a Strong Letter

This is crucial. If you don’t know a professor all that well or scored anywhere under an A- in their class, do not ask that professor for a letter. Ask someone who you have worked with closely, knows you well, and thinks highly of you.

If the person you ask expresses any hesitation, don’t pursue the letter further. Their hesitation is a sign that they either don’t know you well enough, don’t have positive things to say, or simply don’t have the time. It’s better to catch that hesitation early on as opposed to ending up with a late or lukewarm letter.

More tips: How to Get Strong Medical School Letters of Recommendation .

4 | Make the Process as Simple as Possible

Provide all of the necessary materials to make writing and submitting the letter as smooth as possible. See what to provide in the above section, and ask them if they need anything else ahead of time.

5 | Provide a Deadline to Ensure You Receive Letters on Time

The best letter in the world won’t matter if it’s late. Provide a clear deadline to ensure you receive your letters on time.

Give your letter writers as much time as possible, as they are extremely busy and have likely received plenty of other requests. We recommend two-three months. Set a reminder two weeks out from the due date.

For more tips, check out our advice on How to Ask For Medical School Letters of Recommendation .

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid the following common letter of recommendation mistakes.

  • Asking someone who doesn’t know you well.
  • Asking for a letter when you haven’t thoroughly prepared.
  • Forgetting to provide the writer with the necessary materials.
  • Asking people who don’t know you well enough to provide real insight into who you are.
  • Not obtaining a variety of letters across science, non-science, and extracurriculars.
  • Asking the professor of a class you scored below A- in.
  • Coming across as overly-friendly or unprofessional when asking for a letter.
  • Waiting too long after working with someone to ask for a letter.
  • Getting a letter from someone who was reluctant when you asked.
  • Not thinking about letters of recommendation early in your application preparation.

Letters of Recommendation FAQs

How many letters of recommendation do i need.

The medical school letter of recommendation requirements vary from school to school. Most schools require at least three letters, but some may ask for four or five. Make sure you check the specific requirements of each school you hope to apply to.

Since the number varies based on the school, we recommend all applicants plan to have four to five letters of recommendation spread across science professors, non-science professors, and extracurriculars.

How Many Letters of Recommendation for Medical School Are Required?

How do I submit letters of recommendation?

Your letter writers must submit their letter electronically through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application or Interfolio . You do not review or submit your own letters of recommendation.

You will need to provide each of your letter authors with submission information, including your AAMC ID, and a unique seven-digit Letter ID. Each letter writer will be assigned an individual Letter ID when you add them to your AMCAS application, which is needed in order to upload your letter(s).

If you are applying through multiple services, AMCAS, TMDSAS, AACOMAS, etc., Interfolio acts as a go-between so that writers only need to upload once. They will still need their unique seven-digit Letter ID for your letter to be matched to your application. There is a small yearly fee to use Interfolio’s Dossier Deliver service .

Letters submitted through either process will be marked as received—immediately with AMCAS, or within three days with Interfolio. Contact your letter writer and ask them to submit the letter again, if a letter is not marked as received by the deadline you provided.

When are letters of recommendation due?

Include your letters with your medical school application. You can also add letters of recommendation up until you submit your secondary application, though you shouldn’t procrastinate. They are a key piece of your application that shouldn’t be left to the last minute. It takes time to ask for letters, and you need to give the letter writer adequate time to complete it.

Secondary applications are due between July and January, but it’s best to submit yours, along with your letters, by the end of the summer.

Read our Medical School Application Timeline to ensure you plan ahead and don’t miss any important deadlines.

What if a letter writer doesn’t submit a recommendation?

If a letter is not marked as received through the electronic portal you are using, contact your letter writer and ask them to submit the letter again.

In rare circumstances, a letter writer may disappear or stop responding. They are people too, and emergencies happen. This is why it’s so important to have more letters planned than the bare minimum required for your application.

What if a potential letter writer says no?

If a potential letter writer says no, it means they do not feel they know you well enough, they’re already swamped with other requests, or they don’t have confidence in you. Whatever the reason, it’s important to move on and look for another option.

Even if they hesitate before saying yes, it may be better to find someone else. A poor or even lukewarm letter can jeopardize an otherwise excellent medical school application.

Who can write a letter besides professors?

You should have letters from two science professors and one non-science professor. In addition to professors, you may choose to ask a research PI or mentor, a physician you shadowed or worked closely with, or a volunteer activity supervisor.

You could also ask a TA or an employer for a letter of recommendation if they know you better than your other options. What’s most important is that you choose letter writers who know you very well and will speak highly of you.

Are extracurricular letters required?

While not required, we recommend securing letters of recommendation from extracurriculars that were particularly significant. This may include research mentors or principal investigators (PI), physicians that you shadowed, or leadership from other volunteer organizations. If appropriate, aim to secure a letter from each of your three most meaningful activities on your AMCAS.

Who shouldn’t give me a recommendation?

Don’t ask someone who is positively biased towards you, such as a friend or family member. Your letters should come from people who can provide an honest and impartial recommendation.

If the person you ask seems hesitant or unenthusiastic about submitting a letter of recommendation on your behalf, don’t push it; instead, find someone else. A poor or even neutral letter can jeopardize an otherwise excellent medical school application.

Can I add additional letters after I submit my application?

Yes, you can add additional letters after your application is submitted, but you cannot delete or change the letters your writers submit.

Although you can add letters of recommendation after submitting your application, we do not recommend it. Strong letters take time, so give your letter writers as much time as possible to compose thoughtful, detailed letters. You should choose four to five strong letter writers—having more won’t increase your chances, but it can dilute your positive recommendations with ones that aren’t as strong.

What types of letters does AMCAS accept?

AMCAS accepts Committee Letters, Letter Packets, and Individual Letters. Committee Letters are authored by a prehealth committee or prehealth advisor representing an evaluation of you by your institution. A Letter Packet is a set of letters assembled by your institution, often including a cover sheet from your prehealth committee or advisor. Individual Letters are written by, and represent, the opinions of one letter writer. All three letter types count as one letter entry.

Can I see my letter of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are submitted confidentially, and you do not get to see them. Don’t ask letter writers what they have written, as they are under no obligation to show you. You should have absolute confidence that the person you ask knows you well and will speak highly of you.

How should I thank letter writers?

Don’t forget about your letter writers as soon as your application is submitted. Send a thank you email once they submit their letter and consider sending them a handwritten card by physical mail when you are accepted to medical school.

Get Help From Professionals

Med School Insiders offers Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages that will help you with every step of the application process. Our team of doctors has years of experience serving on admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights from people who have been intimately involved with the selection process.

Read our Guide to Understanding the Medical School Application Process , which includes an application timeline, what you need to include in your application, mistakes to avoid, and what happens next.

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Letters of recommendation for med school are typically submitted along with your  AMCAS application . A good letter of recommendation highlights your academic or professional achievements. A great letter gives the admissions committee at your dream medical school deeper insight into the person you are and the doctor you may become.

How Many Letters Will You Need?

Medical School Letter of Recommendation

In most cases, schools request a minimum of three recommendations: two from science professors and one from a non-science professor or an extracurricular supervisor. Unless specifically instructed not to send additional letters , competitive applicants commonly send as many as six recommendations, including those from additional academic sources, clinical mentors, supervisors in extracurricular activities, and research sources.

Pre-Medical Committee Letter

Some schools request that you send your recommendations in the form of a pre-medical committee letter, which is either a letter written by the undergraduate pre- med committee specifically recommending you, or a letter that summarizes comments made by various committee members about you. If your school does not have a pre-medical committee (or you are a non-traditional applicant not officially affiliated with a university), you will typically need to submit a minimum of three letters of recommendation from individual sources instead.

Getting a Great Letter of Recommendation

Here’s a quick overview of how to choose the right people to write your medical school recommendations and ensure you get the right message across.

1. Start Early

Professors are busy! You will want to ask for letters well in advance of deadlines. If you are applying as an undergraduate in college, start asking for letters in the winter of your junior year.

getting a great medical school recommendation letter

2. Identify your recommenders

Current professors and doctors with whom you work or volunteer are your best choices. But former professors and doctors with whom you've worked in the past are fine, too. (If you're applying to osteopathic schools , you must have a letter from a DO.) The best recommendations come from people who know and honestly like you as a person.

3. Be professional

It’s natural to feel anxious about approaching prospective recommenders, especially if some time has passed since you've worked with them. But professors and doctors are used to receiving this kind of request, and most will be happy (even flattered) to write a recommendation on your behalf. Courtesy goes a long way in these interactions. A sincere thank-you note at the end of the process, not matter what the outcome, is essential.

4. Help them help you

Fantastic letters come from recommenders who can write about your specific traits and talents. Provide them with a copy of your CV or résumé, a personal statement , and any other materials that will remind them about what you've achieved. Also let them know which medical programs you're applying to and why.

Read More: How Many Med Schools Should You Apply To?

5. Understand the process

If you apply directly from undergrad, you likely have access to pre-health or pre-med advising, and your letters will be handled by that office. They will copy and send your recommendations to your list of schools. If you are a returning adult student, you may have to take care of all the requests and letters yourself.

6. Follow the instructions

Read directions carefully. If an admissions committee asks for a recommendation from a premedical sciences professor, sending a recommendation from a psychology or sociology professor instead will count against you, even if you suspect that the recommendation will be stronger .

Med School Recommendation Letter Advice for Non-Science Majors

Not a science major? Below are some common letter suggestions for humanities, social science, and other non-medically related disciplines.

Humanities or Social Science Majors

  • 1 recommendation from a biology professor
  • 1 recommendation from a chemistry or physics professor
  • 1 recommendation from a humanities professor
  • 1 recommendation from a humanities professor of an advanced-level course in your major 
  • 2 recommendations from other sources, such as supervisors from lab/clinical work or extracurricular activities

Non-Medically Related Science Majors (computer science, engineering, math, etc.)

  • 1 recommendation from a professor of a medically-related science class, ideally biology
  • 1 recommendation from a professor of an advanced-level class in your major area
  • 1 recommendation from a humanities professor (may be an intro-level humanities course)

3 recommendations from other sources, such as supervisors from lab/clinical work or extracurricular activities

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Medical School Recommendation Letter Samples & The Ultimate Guide

Medical School Recommendation Letter Sample

Medical school recommendation letters are an important part of the application process for both  DO and MD  programs. They are meant to present an external, objective evaluation of your suitability for a career in medicine to admissions committees. This article will teach you how to get stellar recommendation letters from referees, provide you with medical school recommendation letter samples from different types of referees, and answer some questions you may have about this intricate process. Plus, we provide you with email templates you can use to send requests for reference letters, as well as templates for deadline reminders and thank you letters!

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Article Contents 21 min read

Sample medical school recommendation letter from a science professor.

Name of writer and contact information if not included in letterhead

Dear Admission Committee Members,

It is a pleasure for me to write this recommendation letter for Scott Johnson, who was my student in the fourth-year seminar "Advanced Embryology and Developmental Biology" in the fall of 2018. Scott is an exceptional person. He is one of the best students I have ever had the chance to teach in my 10 years at X University.

Scott has impressive critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which served him well during my class. I have spoken with his other instructors, and they have also noted his extraordinary analytical abilities. His capacity to observe and develop insightful and reflective conclusions has been noted by me on many occasions, especially during his laboratory work. I noticed that Scott spent a lot of his time diligently working on his laboratory experiments, even outside of the scheduled lab time.

Scott demonstrated outstanding levels of understanding techniques and developments of embryological systems. His insightful questions demonstrated his curiosity into unknowns and his motivation to increase his knowledge base. He is an excellent collaborator who is always ready to help his peers. I have witnessed Scott help his classmates with complex lab experiments inside the classroom, as well as outside of classroom hours as a tutor. He is joyful and kind during his interactions with students, professors, and other faculty. Aside from submitting his assignments on time to the highest quality, completing all lab and tutorial work, he volunteered to organize a student study group before the final lab and exam in my course. He was very generous with his time and energy to make sure that he and his classmates were well prepared. I remember Scott taking extra time to explain material to an international student who was struggling to understand a difficult concept. He listened to the student’s concerns, broke down the concept one step at a time until he was sure the student understood the material. His empathy truly touched me.

Scott also impressed me with his maturity and professionalism. During his time in my class, he formed courteous relationships with everyone: assistants, peers, and myself. He is great in conflict resolution scenarios, as I have had the chance to see that he solves problems quickly and efficiently. During a confrontation with a peer who was experiencing anxiety about his grades, Scott was able to diffuse the tension and offered his help. His peer ended up excelling in the next assignment due to Scott's mentoring.

I wholeheartedly recommend Scott Johnson as a perfect candidate for your medical school program. Over the years of my teaching career, I can think of few students who deserve such high praise and recommendation. Scott is a skilled scientist, a highly intellectual and compassionate individual, who would make a great doctor in the future. His dedication to excellence is inspiring. Please contact me if there is anything else I can add to impress upon the high caliber of character that is Scott Johnson.

Dr. Name of Writer

What makes this letter strong?

  • It qualifies the relationship with the applicant right away: a strong letter will mention how the writer knows the applicant in the first paragraph. This is important information that will contextualize the supporting details in the letter.
  • It gets right to the point: this letter is a great demonstration of the concept of efficient writing. There’s no exposition or unnecessary detail. The topic sentence of the second paragraph introduces the applicant’s important characteristics, such as critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which help transition into the subsequent paragraphs.
  • Evidence is provided: all letters of recommendation need evidence of skills. The writer of this letter, who is a science professor, expounds on the list of skills mentioned by connecting them with course concepts that the student excelled at, for example, Scott’s understanding of embryological systems. 

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Your medical school recommendation letters must be exceptional. Because admissions committees must look through hundreds of applicants with high GPAs, high  MCAT scores , and impressive  medical school personal statements , your recommendation letters will influence the impression you’ve created of yourself and your eligibility as a future physician. In short, these letters need to emphasize your exceptionality to make a lasting impression and make your  medical school application stand out .

Do not ask for a letter from anyone who would not describe you as an excellent, outstanding candidate for medical school. Your referees must be able to talk about your best skills, your greatest accomplishments, and your virtuous character. You do not want mediocre or unenthusiastic letters of recommendation. The writer should have no hesitation about providing you with a letter when you approach them. If your chosen referee is unsure, it would be better to ask someone else, as these letters are meant to enhance your application and impress admissions committees.

Most medical schools ask for at least three letters of recommendation. Some schools may ask for four or five, so be sure to check this information with the school to which you’re applying. Keep in mind that some medical schools are quite strict with their numbers, so if they ask for exactly 4 letters and let you know that they will not review any more than 4, do not send fewer or more recommendations.

Can you reuse your medical school recommendation letters?

The short answer is yes, you can reuse them, as long as you verify with your referees that this is okay and ask them to change the date on the letterhead before you resubmit an application. If you do decide to resubmit a medical school application, consider updating your letters of recommendation and submitting new ones anyway, since you may have stronger referees now or some letters of recommendation might be outdated.

For applicants applying to a DO program, the College of Osteopathic Medicine requires a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation. The first needs to come from a physician, preferably a DO and not an MD, though both are acceptable. The other two letters must be written by either a pre-professional committee member or physical science faculty member from your university.

There are three different types of medical school letter of recommendation (LOR): Committee Letter, Letter Packet, and Individual Letter. In the US, Committee Letters are common. A Committee Letter is written by your university’s premed advising committee, which represents your school’s evaluation of you as a candidate. This type of letter is not offered at every school. The Letter Packet is also an option at some schools. The letters from your referees are assembled and sent out by your school’s career center, but there is no letter from your premed advisor or committee. Individual Letters are exactly as they sound and are also quite common.

Do Some Medical Schools Require Different Recommendation Letters?

Medical schools may require a variety of recommendation letters based on your current situation or work history. If you’re a student, some schools may require a certain number of letters from science faculty, and some may ask for letters from employers or supervisors if you are in the workforce. The requirements may be completely different if you served in the military. As previously mentioned, be sure to check with your program as to what kind of recommendation letters you are expected to provide.

How Many Recommendation Letters Is Too Many?

It’s wise to ask for more letters than is required for your application. Essentially, it is good to have back-ups. In case one of your confirmed referees can no longer provide a letter, you will have enough letters to meet the minimum requirements. For example, you can upload up to 10  AMCAS letters of recommendation  and up to 6 to the AACOMAS system if you’re working on a  DO school application for osteopathic medicine .  If you are applying via  TMDSAS  for  medical schools in Texas , you can upload up to 4 recommendation letters. Keep in mind that all schools you apply to via AACOMAS and TMDSAS will receive all the same medical school letters of recommendation you upload, while in the AMCAS system, you can pick and choose which medical schools receive which recommendation letters.

Most common types of medical school recommendation letters:

A letter packet is composed of letters from your referees are assembled and sent out by your school\u2019s career center but there is no letter from your pre-med advisor or committee "}]' code='timeline1'>

How to Choose Your Recommendation Writers

Recent grads.

Finding referees to ask for medical school recommendation letters  can be a challenge. Some have too many options and aren’t sure who would be the best letter writer. Others don’t think they have any options for recommendation letter writers. Premed students need not worry because there are many different avenues to explore to find strong medical school recommendation letter writers. Chances are your university professors have already written a letter of recommendation before and would be happy to do so again. Note that most recent grads will need letters from science and non-science faculty, in addition to any research supervisors who worked with them.

Non-Traditional Applicants

Non-traditional applicants, such as mature medical school applicants, applicants who have taken a gap year or aren’t in touch with any of their university professors, and international students might have more questions about choosing medical school referees. Non-traditional medical school applicants or medical school applicants who have been out of school for a longer period may not be able to track down a science professor to fulfill the medical school application requirement.

Some medical schools make exceptions for non-traditional applicants, but there are other tricks to get the needed medical school referees. For example, you can ask your work supervisors or mentors to write you a letter of recommendation. Alternatively, you can ask for a committee letter from your undergraduate university and get an overall review of your school performance. Lastly, you can take further post-secondary courses and use the opportunity to network for a fresh letter of recommendation. If you haven’t already, you can complete the prerequisites for medical school   and do the same thing.

International Applicants

International students may also wonder who is best to ask for a recommendation letter for a US medical school application. Typically, you will be able to find professors or faculty members to write one to fulfill application requirements, but you can also ask an  international student advisor  you've worked with, guidance counselors at your undergraduate university, employers, research supervisors, or physicians you have shadowed. It's a good idea to check with the school you're applying to if there are any special requirements for international students.

Here's an overview of the different types of medical school referees.

Some schools may request two medical school letters of recommendation from your science university professors or mentors and one from a non-science professor. Who qualifies as a science and non-science faculty member? Science professors may include faculty members in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics departments. Non-science references can come from the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

If you are not sure who counts as a science professor, try to get letters from professors appointed in the faculty of science at your university. You may need to ask the schools you are applying to for clarification in case of an ambiguity, such as psychology professors whose work could be in both arts and science faculties. ","label":"Tip","title":"Tip"}]' code='tab4' template='BlogArticle'>

How Should My Science Professors Write About Me?

Your science references should emphasize your skills and abilities that highlight you as an excellent science student and future practitioner. Medical schools want to see examples of your ability to problem-solve, learn independently, and show initiative in group projects and labs. If your referees know you very well, they should outline your participation in and outside of the classroom. Perhaps you attended their office hours, volunteered to lead seminars, or participated in conferences and presentations. They may also comment on your activities and interests related to science, like student science clubs or study groups.

How Should my Non-Science Professors Write About Me?

Your non-science professor can address your critical thinking and comprehension skills. For example, if you are asking for a letter from a professor who has read your writing extensively, they can comment on your clarity of thought and expression. If you have done presentations in their class, they could highlight your verbal communication skills. Strong written and verbal communication skills will advocate your ability to interact with patients. Additionally, non-science coursework can show diversity of experiences and resilience, as you learn more about the people and groups around you, perhaps learn to appreciate barriers that patients can face in health care, and learn to succeed in a subject that may be different from the science ones you have taken.

Should I have Recommendation Letters from Different Disciplines?

Absolutely, yes. Try to get medical school recommendation letters from faculty members of different disciplines to provide a wider impression of your skills and abilities. For example, instead of asking two biology professors, it’s a good idea to ask one biology professor and one physics professor.

Tip #1: Choose Strategically Based on Academic Performance

Choose a professor who can speak to your performance. If you got a C in a class, that professor is probably not the best referee to choose. With that said, you don't necessarily have to pick a professor where you scored an A+. If for example, you got a B+ in chemistry, but you demonstrated significant improvement in the class by regularly getting extra help from your professor or getting a tutor, this can be a great way for admissions committees to see your motivation for self-improvement while also addressing the fact that you achieved a lower grade than you would have liked.  Medical school GPA requirements   are competitive, but addressing the gap in your application can be the key to  how to get into medical school with a low GPA .

Tip #2: Have a Good Relationship with Your Referees

Many undergraduate classes have hundreds of students, and it is difficult to get to know your instructor on a personal level. However, you must have a good relationship with the faculty member who will write your recommendation. Attend their office hours, ask them questions after class, or volunteer to help with their research.  Clinical research as a premed  or  virtual research as a premed  can provide not only excellent referees, but also strengthen your application to medical school. By forging good relationships with your professors, you allow for personal interactions and experiences with you that they can draw on when they describe you as a worthy applicant. Keep in mind that if you have a fantastic relationship with a teaching assistant (TA) but you hardly know your professor, it’s best to ask for a recommendation letter from your TA, who will be better suited to discuss your particular strengths and speak to your suitability for a career in medicine.

Check out who else can be a perfect reference letter writer for your medical school application:

A hospital volunteer supervisor or university athletics team coach can be very helpful for a non-academic letter of reference. If the referee has known you for a long time and has seen your skills improve, they can write a valuable recommendation. These types of supervisors tend to know applicants very well and genuinely want to write a strong letter. If you\u2019re not sure where to start, look in your  AMCAS most meaningful experiences  or  AMCAS work and activities  listings to see if there are any potential referees who could write you a good letter of recommendation. ","label":"Volunteer or EC Supervisor","title":"Volunteer or EC Supervisor"}]' code='tab6' template='BlogArticle'>

Check out our video for some more tips on how to secure strong recommendation letters:

How to Ask for Medical School Recommendation Letters

The two most common ways to ask for a recommendation letter are in person and via email. Approaching a referee directly eliminates waiting for a response. To do this, you can visit professors during their office hours or catch your employer during a break. Most likely the person will give you an answer right then and there. If the answer is yes, you should arrange for a second meeting, where you will provide all the necessary information for your recommender: your  medical school application timeline  and important deadlines, information on how to submit their letter of recommendation, your transcripts, CV, a list of awards or  medical school scholarships   you’ve won or have applied for, and so on. If you are asking through email, wait for them to respond with a yes before sending them all your supporting documents and submission details.

If it’s been a while since you have taken your professor’s class, it’s a good idea to approach your professor personally. Seeing your face and speaking with you directly will jog their memory of who you are and what your performance was like in their class. Email, on the other hand, could leave them questioning your identity if it's been a while since you interacted. For this reason, try to approach them at the end of the semester or when you are receiving feedback; this is when they will remember you, and they may even begin drafting the letter soon after you ask. Don’t wait until you  start your medical school application ,  which could be months later.

Whenever you’re asking someone to be your referee for medical school, always approach with professionalism and enthusiasm. If they agree to write a letter of recommendation for you, you may choose to share your motivation for applying to medical school, your goals, and any helpful information on writing a letter of recommendation for referees who are new to the task. While medical school recommendation letters are written by someone else, the process requires you to be involved, at least in the beginning.

If you are struggling to compose a compelling and friendly email, here are some email templates you can choose from to address your instructor:

Rebecca Stone ","label":"Request for a Reference Letter","title":"Request for a Reference Letter"}]' code='tab1' template='BlogArticle'>

Would you like help with your medical school application? Watch this to learn about one of our success stories:

Be sure to ask your referees to write a recommendation letter well in advance. Aim to ask them at least one month before the application deadline. It is sometimes beneficial to ask for a letter much earlier. For example, if you participate in a research project during summer between sophomore and junior year, and you plan to finish working on it when summer ends, you should approach your research supervisor about a recommendation letter that summer. This will ensure that your accomplishments and strengths are fresh in your supervisor’s mind. The same can be said for letters from your professors. If you do particularly well in a second or third year class during your undergrad and get to know the instructor, don’t hesitate to ask for a letter when the class ends.

To store these early letters, you can ask your writer to send the letters to your school's career center, your career counselor or advisor, or any similar office. Once the application process begins, simply remind your recommender about the letter, where it is stored, and its deadline. Most universities will be happy to store your recommendation letters for you. Alternatively, you can use an online letter storage service or online dossier service to store your letters.

For the above application services, you should request your letters of recommendation no later than 2-3 months before you plan on submitting your application. If you want to submit by May 31, then you should request your letters starting in March. Contact your referees to remind them of the deadline no later than 2 weeks in advance of the date you plan to submit your application.

For OMSAS, it’s best to adhere to the recommendation to send your reference requests by September 15 to ensure your referees have enough time to complete the request before the deadline. Send your reminders a week after this date if you don’t receive confirmation. On the confidential Assessment Form (CAF), your references will be asked the following questions:

  • Would this applicant make a good physician?
  • Rate the applicant on each of the following attributes: communication skills; problem-solving skills; professionalism; empathy
  • Identify and comment on 1 area of improvement for the applicant.
  • Share any other information you feel may be relevant to a medical school’s admission committee.

Be sure to communicate what’s expected of a reference when you send your requests.

Recommendation Letter Don’ts

As demonstrated, there are a few things you should keep in mind when you’re selecting referees. It’s important to acknowledge that simply having a letter of recommendation isn’t enough. The letter should be an appraisal of your medically relevant abilities, written by people who are committed to writing you a strong letter.

By the same token, there are certain things to avoid when seeking medical school recommendation letters, as follows:

#1 Don’t be afraid to ask for a strong recommendation letter

Take time to explain why a letter from this writer would be valuable and important for your application to medical school. It can be intimidating to ask for recommendation letters, but don’t be shy: professionals, university faculty, and employers know what such letters entail and often consider them part of their job. Most will have written these kinds of letters before. If you don't ask, you won't get! Be confident, but not forceful.

#2 Don’t annoy your writers by constantly asking them how the writing process is going

Once your referees commit to writing you a letter, be sure to provide them with deadlines for submission. It’s perfectly acceptable to send them an email as the deadline approaches to remind them about submission. If they do not respond, you can follow up with a phone call. If you do not hear back from them at all, you should assume this person is no longer your recommender.  If you are looking for an email template to remind your recommendation letter writers of an approaching deadline, please use the following:

Rebecca Stone ","label":"Deadline Reminder","title":"Deadline Reminder"}]' code='tab2' template='BlogArticle'>

#3 Don’t forget your plan B

It’s vitally important to have back-ups. It is always better to ask for recommendation letters from more people than is required. In case one of your referees backs out or is no longer available as a reference, you will still have enough references to fulfill  medical school requirements . Most medical schools will accept external sections of your application, like recommendation letters late, provided your application package was submitted before the deadline.

#4 Don’t write counterfeit letters

This goes without saying, but no amount of plagiarism is acceptable on your recommendation letters, or for any of your other materials for that matter. You will not get away with fraudulent letters. The admissions committee will detect them easily and automatically disqualify you from admission.

#5 Do not ask to read your recommendation letter

You should trust the person you chose to write you a glowing reference and waive your right to review the letter. The general rule of thumb is that letters of recommendation should be confidential. This allows your referee to provide a truthful review about your performance and provides medical schools with confidence in the review. Of course, this doesn't apply if you are writing your own letter of recommendation .

Note: Most Canadian schools do not give students the option to waive or not waive the right to review your letter and require confidentiality, as they want referees to be honest.

Most Canadian schools do not give students the option to waive or not waive the right to review your letter and require confidentiality, as they want referees to be honest. ","label":"Note","title":"Note"}]' code='tab5' template='BlogArticle'>

#6 Don't forget a thank you letter

Do not forget to send a genuine thank you letter to demonstrate your appreciation for the writer's support, just as you would send a thank you for a medical school interview . It’s a common professional courtesy and it shows you appreciate your recommendation letter writers. Send it right after the letter is received in the application system. If you are looking for an email template for a thank you letter, please see below:

Rebecca Stone ","label":"Thank You Email","title":"Thank You Email"}]' code='tab3' template='BlogArticle'>

It is a pleasure for me to write this recommendation letter for Cecelia Guantes, who was my research assistant in the Minority Health Disparities Undergraduate Summer Research Program in the summer of 2018. In my 5 years of leading the summer research program, Cecelia has proven to be one of the best research assistants I have had the pleasure of working with.

Cecelia excelled throughout the summer research program, demonstrating impressive problem-solving and analytical skills. She has gone above and beyond in her duties as a research assistant, volunteering to cover additional hours or help with laboratory work. I have noticed her attention to detail, as she frequently asks questions to clarify, double check her facts and figures and asks for feedback on her work. Her work ethic has not gone unnoticed by other supervisors in the program, either, as I have verified with my colleagues.

Throughout her time with the summer research program, Cecilia demonstrated not only a high quality and standard of work, but a high level of compassion and understanding. When a fellow research assistant made a mistake, she took it upon herself to help the other student to correct the mistake, apologize to the affected colleague and reassure the other student. Afterwards, Cecilia worked with the other student to ensure the mistake did not happen again and rebuild her confidence. There was a noticeable difference in the other student after Cecilia’s assistance and coaching, in both her confidence and quality of work. Cecilia handled the situation with compassion and skilled interpersonal abilities, assisting another student without taking over or being overbearing. Her careful and kind treatment of her fellow research assistant made an impression on me.

Cecilia was a pleasure to have in the program and particularly during field work. She acted with the utmost professionalism and courteousness both with her fellows, her superiors and outside consultants when conducting field work. She treated everyone involved in the study with great respect and even formed friendly relationships with some of our colleagues, who mentioned to me their great impressions of Cecilia’s passion and enthusiasm. No matter the situation, she demonstrated excitement and passion for the project.

I wholeheartedly recommend Cecilia Guantes as the best candidate for your medical school program. I can think of no other research assistant who has made such a fantastic impression on me and my colleagues. Cecilia will surely make a superior physician thanks to her strong work ethic, compassionate nature and sharp mind. Please contact me if there is anything else I can add to Cecilia’s candidacy.

  • The skills are specific to the candidate’s role as a research assistant: the traits that your referees mention shouldn’t be arbitrary. They need to be specific to you and your role. For this example, the referee mentioned attributes like analytical skills, which directly relate to the candidate’s performance as a research assistant.
  • It proves the candidate goes above and beyond: the referee remarks on how Cecilia not only performed her duties with professionalism, attention to detail, etc., but how she took the initiative to support her colleagues. An apt example is given, which helps round out Cecilia’s applicant profile.
  • It employs terse language: recommendation letters with flowery, unnecessary words and structure will debase the quality of the appraisal significantly. In this example, every sentence and word have a purpose. Don’t accept letters that are excessively praising, which typically sound contrived and possibly fraudulent.

I am writing this recommendation letter for Kalvin Foster, whom I have had the pleasure of coaching for the last four years as a member of the X University Pandas basketball team. From his first tryouts to his final accomplishments with our team, Kalvin has consistently shown up and demonstrated why he is an excellent athlete and teammate. The other coaches, myself and the team will miss his presence on the court when he graduates this spring.

From the first day of tryouts in Kalvin’s freshman year, he made an impression on me, not only through his athleticism but his enthusiasm, infectious positivity and tireless commitment to showing up, improving and persevering. Once he had made the team, his energy and tireless optimism never wavered, no matter the final score on the board or the setbacks he experienced from injury, illness, game cancellations or personal troubles in four years of college basketball. He managed to balance his study schedule alongside our practices and games, always bringing a smile to the court.

Kalvin had an undeniable effect on his teammates as well, who looked up to him as a natural leader, mentor and friend. Kalvin is quick to praise, encourage and help, and has never been the type to put anyone down or blame others for mistakes. He is consistently focused on the future and keeping his head up, and this attitude has rubbed off on his teammates.

His most notable accomplishment with the team, however, was due to his medical training. Kalvin is certified in first aid, and this skill became critical when a teammate collapsed on the court during a regular practice. Rushing the to teammate’s side, Kalvin didn’t hesitate to begin first aid, directing other players on what to do and keeping everyone calm and informed on what was happening. Fortunately, the teammate recovered, but Kalvin’s act was inspiring to not only the team but myself. I made the decision to host a series of first aid and sports injury first aid instruction with the team, which Kalvin was instrumental in organizing.

I have no doubt that Kalvin will succeed in becoming an excellent physician. His nature, ambition and enthusiasm are endless, and once he sets his mind to something, he achieves it. Kalvin’s Pandas teammates have nothing but respect and admiration for him, and he will be dearly missed, but we are all excited to see where this next step of his journey takes him. I cannot recommend Kalvin more highly for a spot in your program.

Name of Writer

  • Timeline: in the opening paragraph, an overview of the timeline of the coach’s relationship with Kalvin is provided. This not only establishes context, but it helps demonstrate growth and commitment. The writer goes on to mention an impression made on the first day of tryouts, as well as how he influenced the team once he earned his place.
  • Stays relevant: this letter keeps the content relevant to medical school, despite the fact that the referee is the candidate’s coach. The anecdote about how Kalvin’s first aid training was critical in an urgent situation, and the exposition about how Kalvin was adept at balancing his studies with his team obligations, shows academic readiness and time management skills – two highly important traits for medical school success.
  • Reveals attitude: this letter does a good job at revealing the attitude of the applicant, which is where many recommendation letters fall short. In reading about Kalvin’s infectious positivity and how that changed the team atmosphere, the admissions committee reviewing the letter will see that Kalvin has the right attitude to become a physician.

Medical school recommendations are usually written by people from these five categories:

a) Science and non-science faculty

b) Physicians

c) Research supervisors

d) Employers

e) Volunteer or EC supervisors

To write a strong letter of recommendation, your advocates must know you well. A big name in science or a senior faculty member may seem impressive, but not if they do not know you well personally. Try to ask individuals who’ve known you for at least a year. This way, they’ve had a chance to get to know you so they can speak from experience and give a detailed account of your candidacy. Help them write your recommendation by providing the following:

a) A copy of your personal statement. For reference, check out our blog to see some of the best  medical school personal statement examples

b) Your transcripts and test scores if they are available

c) CV with a list of important accomplishments

d) Any other information not included in your CV that can strengthen the recommendation (e.g., publications, professional and educational associations, etc.)

e) Be prepared to answer their questions about why and how you are pursuing medicine. This may be explained in your personal statement, but having a brief 15-minute chat with your referee can also be a way of showing them the thought you have put into choosing a career in medicine.

A good letter of recommendation will make you stand out among hundreds of applicants and may directly influence your chances of getting admitted. The content of the letter is of utmost importance, but the overall presentation of the letter is also significant, so try to avoid asking anyone who you know to be a poor writer. Note that clear, concise, and direct language is appreciated by admissions committees, rather than overly creative and complicated language. They read thousands of these letters every year and do not want to put in extra effort to try to decipher complicated language.

Your recommenders must submit the letters electronically through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application or Interfolio. If a letter is uploaded through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application, it is immediately marked as received. A letter uploaded through Interfolio will take approximately three days to be marked as received.

If your letter was submitted through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application and is not marked as received, contact your letter writer and ask them to submit it again. If you need other options to submit recommendation letters, contact AMCAS. When uploading your letters, the writers must include both the AAMC ID and the AMCAS letter ID found on the Letter Request Form. It is crucial to include these numbers to correctly match the letter to your name. Some medical schools request that letters include your school’s official letterhead and the author’s signature.

Canadian schools have their own application procedures. Each school and the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS) has its own preferred way of submitting LORs. Although most prefer letters to be submitted online through a specific portal, make sure to check with the program and contact the admissions office directly to confirm.

Recommendation letters are usually between one and three pages long. The quality of content should always outweigh the length. See the examples above for effective recommendation letter samples.

Absolutely! Due to the high volume of students in most undergraduate classes, you do not always have the opportunity to work directly with your professors. You will, on the other hand, most likely work with and get to know your teaching or lab assistant. It's more important to secure a letter from a TA who knows you best, compared with a professor you've never had a conversation with.

If you are worried about the quality of your recommendations from old professors, then it's best to ask another suitable individual for a letter. If you must send in a letter from a science faculty member, you'll have to contact the professor or TA you interacted with the most. More often than not, a little refresher will enable them to remember you, plus, you may be more memorable than you think!

Tip: Ask if you can chat on the phone or visit their office briefly. Asking in person may help jog their memory and help them to recall you. Do not just barge in during their office hours, though, as these are intended for current students. Ask and make an appointment beforehand.

A professor will usually only refuse to write a letter if they truly feel that they don’t know you and your work well enough to write you the kind of recommendation you need to get into medical school. Don’t be discouraged if this is the case; you’ll simply need to search for someone else, which is better than a poor or ineffective letter of recommendation.

They could also have already committed to other students, which stresses how important it is to ask early (and ideally while you are still working with them, or at a time when they have evaluated your work).

Medicine is a collaborative environment but also one where you will spend time learning from more senior practitioners for a long time. Medical schools do not just want to hear from you, they want to hear from people in supervisory positions who you have worked with. They want to learn about your potential to become a strong physician from people who you have collaborated with and learned from.

Once before the deadline (approximately 1-2 weeks prior) and only check in after that if they have not submitted or are having trouble with the online portal.

Send a thank you email once the letter is received. You should also send a card or a handwritten letter by actual mail (not email) once you get accepted to show your appreciation and ensure you maintain a positive relationship with your referee.

You can help your writers by providing them with a draft of your personal statement, your CV or resume, and even the spreadsheet of your extracurriculars you have prepared to fill out your  AMCAS Work and Activities  section. Essentially, you want to provide them with any document that can help them write a stronger letter for you.

You can reuse the letters, but it's a good idea to ask the writers to update the date of the letter to the year when you are applying. This means that you must resubmit the recommendation letters each time you apply to medical school because application systems do not store recommendation letters. You should also consider whether your letters of recommendation are still the strongest and most up-to-date possible. If not, switch them out with some new letters from new referees.

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Have a question ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions.

Hi! I’m requesting a letter of recommendation from the principal of the school that I work at! He has never written a letter of recommendation for medical school before. What should I tell him about what to put in the letter to make it easier for him?

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi Naoma. Thanks for your question. You can provide him with a few samples from our blog. Additionally, provide him with the mission statement and values of the schools you are applying to, so he will know what kind of qualities and experiences he should highlight in his praise of you. Then, provide him with your CV, draft of your personal letter, your transcripts, etc., so he can refer back to your achievements when he writes. 

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Advice: Writing Medical School Letters of Recommendation

Logistical Tips for Medical & Dental School Letters of Recommendation

  • Letters of recommendation must be signed, dated, and on official letterhead.
  • Unless explicitly asked by the student, do not recommend a student for a specific school or program (e.g., “applicant to Penn Medical School”).  Instead, please recommend them more broadly and generally (e.g., “applicant to dental school”) for use at all schools and programs.
  • Letters of recommendation should be addressed to the attention of a general admissions board (e.g., “Dear Admissions Committee:”) and not Career Services.

Advice for Writing Medical & Dental School Letters of Recommendation

  • When a student asks you to write a letter of recommendation, you are not obligated to do so. Decide whether you can write enthusiastically enough to be helpful to the student. If your honest evaluation may handicap a student, and/or if you are uncomfortable writing favorably, you have the right to decline a student’s request for a letter.
  • Try to be as specific as possible. General descriptions of a student’s positive qualities are not as useful as detailed examples that illustrate the student’s abilities and achievements. A statement like “John is a brilliant thinker” is quite flattering, but it becomes more convincing if more details are added: “John is a brilliant thinker. For my class at Penn, he submitted an extraordinary fifty-page term paper on women and medicine in early modern England. After determining what practices were available to women in that period, he analyzed the representations of female physicians in the drama of the English Renaissance. His literary interpretation was original and elegantly written.”
  • Specificity is important in discussing non-academic matters, too. Take, for instance, the following statement: “Alice’s commitment to the Narberth Ambulance Squad and to the people we serve is extraordinary.” Medical and dental schools would find this assessment more useful if information were added, such as: “Alice’s commitment to the Narberth Ambulance Squad and to the people we serve is extraordinary. While most of our volunteers live within the township, Alice commutes 45 minutes each way from Philadelphia by bus and by train for each of her shifts. And her record of attendance is perfect. This conscientious behavior is typical of the way she conducts herself.”
  • Try to favorably compare the student to others you have known in a similar capacity. Statements like, “In terms of intellectual talent and drive, Parikh ranks in the top 10% of all undergraduate students I have taught over the past seven years, ” can help an admissions committee assess an applicant’s talents and aptitudes in a relevant context.
  • Medical School Only: Admissions committees care very much about an applicant’s personal qualities.  Recently, the Association of American Medical Colleges endorsed 15 Core Competencies that successful applicants should demonstrate.  While it is not required that all competencies be addressed in a letter of recommendation, they can be used as a helpful guide.

Family Education Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

Federal law stipulates that students can see letters of recommendation unless they waive their right in advance. The student’s decision as to whether your letter will be confidential or non-confidential will be designated on the form he or she gives to you. Most students choose to waive their right. If you, as the author of a confidential letter, wish to show a copy to the student, that is your right.

When Career Services receives a confidential letter of recommendation, we maintain its confidentiality. We will not show it to the student, divulge its contents, or recommend that a student use or not use it. However, at a student’s request, we will review a recommendation to say whether it is appropriate for a specific purpose. For instance, if you conclude a letter by saying, “Fang will make an outstanding lawyer,” we will indicate to a student who asks that the letter is not appropriate for an application to medical or dental school.  We make it clear to students that our definition of “appropriate” is a very narrow one and does not reflect the degree to which the recommendation is favorable.

The time you spend writing letters of recommendation for our pre-health students is valuable. If there is anything we at Career Services can to do help, or if you have any questions, please contact our Credentials Office .

Medical School Letter of Recommendation Template – with Samples

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Updated July 21, 2023

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The medical school recommendation letter is a document that is written in support of a particular student’s application for enrollment in medical school.  The people recommending the candidate will ideally describe them as being well-suited to having a career as a healthcare provider. Medicine is an incredibly competitive field, so beyond the candidate’s academic record, letters of recommendation will be a deciding factor in whether they will be admitted to a medical school or not. Every medical school has its own set of standards and formats for securing letters, so it is important to research the specific schools that are being applied to in order to learn how to write and submit your letter.

Number (#) of Recommendations – Most medical schools will require at least 3 letters from professors of undergraduate classes to accompany each candidate’s application.

What to Include

  • Name and information regarding Medical School Applicant
  • Date letter was written
  • Provide an explanation of the relationship
  • Lists accomplishments of the individual that provides context
  • Contributions the individual can make to the program
  • Unique characteristics and credentials
  • Results of their prior work
  • Information regarding their collaborative relationships
  • Reasons the individual will succeed

Who to Select?

If you are applying for medical school, you will often be required to secure 3 letters of recommendation from undergraduate professors: 2 science professors and 1 non-science professor. If your college or university has a pre-medical advisory committee, a reference letter from them must be included. The academic letters should come from professors of classes in which you maintained very high grades. In larger classes, a professor may not have enough one-on-one interaction with the student, or the time to write a letter of recommendation. In such cases, it is important to develop a rapport with a   Teacher’s Assistant (T.A.), because they may be called upon to assist your professor in writing your letter.  It is also recommended that students meet with their professors during office hours in order to form a bond so an honest and subjective letter of recommendation can be asked of them.

To fulfill your number of required letters of recommendation, depending on your experience and level of study, you could also petition any of the following people to write on your behalf: research directors, principal investigators, representatives from volunteer programs, and graduate program directors. If you are reapplying to medical school, you should include a letter of recommendation that describes your activities, credentials, and successes in the interim period since your last application.

When asking someone to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf, you should always provide them with the necessary guidelines and information regarding the program(s) that you are applying for so that they may better tool their letter of support to match what the school is looking for. Also, provide the letter-writer with your personal statement and a short resume of relevant accomplishments. By preparing your recommenders, you make their job easier and enable them to write the best references possible.

Making sure that your letters are submitted properly and on time cannot be stressed enough. You can find most of the information that you need by consulting the latest Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) guide on the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) website. For osteopathic medicine programs, you will need to navigate to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) website  and read through the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book. Many universities require that your reference letters be submitted through the AMCAS website. In order to meet submission deadlines and secure your required letters of reference, you must to be familiar with the application process, requirements, and deadlines for each program that you are applying for. 

How to Write (Format)

A letter of recommendation for medical school should fill at least one entire page (usually 400 – 600 words) and contain an introduction, up to 4 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. If the letter is being submitted by mail or fax, it should also include a standard letterhead.

If you are writing a recommendation letter on behalf of a student, use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate the candidate’s unique qualities which you wish to highlight. Comparing the applicant to other students or to the class average is a good way to demonstrate that the student’s performance is noteworthy. Your letter should describe the student as having the necessary qualities to succeed not only in medical school, but as a physician as well. Your letter could provide the competitive edge which will render your candidate’s application successful, so make your letter as detailed, specific, and as thoughtful as possible.

If you are submitting your letter by fax or by mail delivery, or if the medical school requires a letterhead, the following information should be provided at the top of the page:

Date of Writing Full Name Title School/Business Name Street Address City, State, Zip Code Preferred Contact (optional)


The introduction to your letter can be fairly short. You should write a former salutation, state your recommendation, introduce yourself and your position, and briefly introduce the person that you are recommending. Here, you can also describe how you know the candidate and for what length of time.

Dear Admissions Committee: As the head of Biology at Penn State University, I do not often take the time to write these letters of recommendation. However, when Stacey Lee petitioned me to write this letter on her behalf, I could not refuse. During the past 3 years, I have had the joy of having Stacey in my Introductory Physiology and Physiology Laboratory courses. After noticing her superior analysis skills, I also took her on as a paid assistant to edit freshman papers, a responsibility which she has delivered on in a very professional way.

In this example, the professor states their position as head of the biology department, describes the length of time that they have known the student, which classes they taught the student in, and how they even employed the student to help mark papers. They also begin by saying that they do not write these letters often, which implies that the student is truly noteworthy.

To Whom It May Concern: It has been my pleasure to have Aaryahi Bavarthi in my Literature of the Enlightenment course this past year and I write to you in support of her application to your medical school program. In the short time that I have had her in my class, it has become evident what a thoughtful and caring person she is. Through her attention in class and her written assignments, Aaryahi demonstrated a high level of commitment to her studies, something which she seems to apply to every aspect of her life.

Here, we have a non-science professor writing a letter on behalf of a student. Such letters are often required, and can serve as a good way of showing the full breadth of a student’s personality. The author in the above example highlights that the student is “thoughtful and caring” as well as committed to everything she does. An ideal physician will be personable and this professor has begun their letter by showing that this is the case in regard to their candidate.

Relationship to the Candidate

After completing your introduction, begin the body of your letter by describing your involvement with the student, their in-class performance, and provide one or two specific anecdotes or examples that support your assessment of them. You should also indicate the length of time that you have known the student if you did not do so in your introduction. This section of your letter should consist of  1 or 2 paragraphs .

In my opinion, the factor that distinguishes a student as being truly suited to having a career as a physician is a profound obligation to assist others. A personal calling, if you will. I help run the Pre-Medical Society here at Horizon University, and Michelle is among the most driven students that I have ever encountered. She is certainly the most prepared student that I have dealt with as co-head of the Pre-Med Society. Such determination and focus is required of all students who aim to succeed in medical school. Michelle was a welcome addition to my classroom during her freshman year, and she distinguished herself through her course and lab work. In one lab experiment, which was to determine the mass percent composition of a hydrogen peroxide solution, the students are asked a number of questions in their assignment. When asked what possible errors she could have made throughout the course of her experiment, Michelle methodically listed a host of possible affects, well in excess of the rote answers the experiment was designed to illicit. Her use of theory and reason demonstrates an interest that goes far beyond the classroom. She is not only able to navigate the academic field, she is also able to apply academic principles in both clinical and creative ways.

In the above example, the author uses their personal interaction with the student to illustrate a few defining qualities of the candidate: her determined focus, her ingenuity, and her talent. They also utilize comparison and a specific anecdote to support their positive assessment of the student.

During his year and a half volunteering at the Center for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), Muthu proved himself to be a bright and hard-working team member. Here at CHI, we help patients and health providers increase their knowledge on the opportunities and challenges of maximizing healthcare value to improve health and quality of life. Volunteers’ duties are mostly clerical, however, they do get to interact closely with healthcare professionals and patients. Muthu was able to fully take advantage of his time with us, not only getting acquainted with a professional workplace, but using our staff and resources to further his understanding of healthcare. Physicians and care-takers should want the best for their patients, and during his time at CHI, Muthu has proven himself to be such a person.

This paragraph is written by a volunteer coordinator on behalf of a candidate. This kind of letter can serve to demonstrate how involved a student is within their community, as well as how dedicated they are towards their chosen field.

Candidate’s Attributes

This part of the body of your letter will expand upon the previous paragraph(s) by going into more detail when describing the   student’s attributes that make them an ideal candidate for medical school and a career in medicine. Employ  both quantitative evidence (grades, etc.) and qualitative evidence (performance, ability to work with peers) to support your recommendation and, a gain, use specific examples and anecdotes. After reading your letter, the Admissions Committee should be assured that your candidate is prepared to meet the challenges of medical school.

Although it is difficult to stand out in classes as large as mine, Pierre made himself memorable by meeting with me several times during my office hours to discuss course work and his goal to attend medical school. After our first meeting, I became fully aware of what a fine student he is. Pierre works extremely well in group projects, as well as independently, consistently achieving high grades. His class participation during lessons was marked by the way he exemplified his comprehension of course material and in his ability to explain complex concepts in front of the class. I was most impressed by the group lab presentation that he was involved with. During the presentation, he proved himself to be capable of public speaking, as well as being a great team leader.
As her grades will attest, Yvonne achieved top marks in my course from start to finish. All of her submitted work was in the top 5 percent in terms of quality and she earned near perfect scores on all her course exams. However, if she were only a bright student, I might not be able to write this letter on her behalf. Yvonne is the sort of student whose presence in class can inspire the other students to pay more attention and demand more of themselves. She has always been attentive, organized, and although quiet, not too shy to ask a pertinent question or to engage in debate. For her end of term project, Yvonne did a presentation on the marketing of pharmaceuticals and the conflicts of interest involved. Speaking in front of the class with great poise, her reporting was extremely objective and thorough. What impressed me most about Yvonne’s presentation, was her breadth of knowledge in regard to pharmacology and the pharmaceutical industry. It is very clear that she has set out clear goals for her future and is on the path towards achieving them.

 In the above examples, you can see how the authors use examples, anecdotes, comparison, as well as qualitative and quantitative evidence   to show that the student is a worthy candidate for medical school.

In the conclusion, you should restate your recommendation, provide an invitation for further contact, and end with a sign off and signature.

Example #1 In conclusion, I highly recommend Edward Mitchell as a medical student. I believe that he will continue to be an outstanding pupil at whichever medical school recruits him and that someday he will make a great doctor. I would be happy to answer any further questions that you may have regarding Edward’s application. You may reach me by telephone at (555) 555-5555. Sincerely, ___________ Ms. Ellen Foster Associate Professor of Biology Richter University
Example #2 Darshana is a remarkable student, and I am confident that she is more than capable of realizing her goals to succeed in medical school and begin a medical profession. She has already proven that she is genuinely interested in helping others and looking out for their well-being. I cannot think of a better candidate for your medical school. Feel free to contact me by phone or email if you have any further questions. Thank you for your time. Sincere Regards, Dr. Allen Robson

It is my pleasure to recommend Carlos Mendoca in his application for medical school. I accepted Carlos as a student in my Sociology of Health and Medicine class this past term because he showed a sincere interest and application to the subject. Having taught him in my Sociology I class during the Winter 2016 semester, and knowing that he would be applying to medical school, I thought it was a great idea for him to take this course to deepen his understanding of the social factors which account for health disparities across socially defined groups.

During the two semesters that I have taught Carlos, I have come to know him personally through our many meetings during my office hours and I find him to be an extremely promising student. His academic performance and coursework have consistently been of equal quality to that of my best Sociology majors. As a method of monitoring my students’ preparation and involvement in class, I ask them to make brainstorming sheets when reading through course materials. This way I can make sure that my students are truly thinking and reflecting upon what is being taught. Of all the students in his class, Carlos clearly spent the most time developing his ability to comprehend new concepts through note-taking. Due to this effort, Mr. Mendoca was always well-prepared for class and offered extremely construction in-class participation.

For his end-of-term paper in Sociology of Health and Medicine, Carlos wrote about the difficulties that physicians face when serving low income communities. Through intensive research, he investigated the trend of top physicians serving wealthier communities and the lack of incentives for well-trained healthcare workers to work in poor areas. Included in his paper were visual aids which he drew to illustrate the cost of education to become a physician versus the kinds of wages provided by institutions that rely on government funding. His integration of sociological theory in making his analysis, along with his ability to describe multiple problems and unify them into a single argument, was truly impressive.

Carlos demonstrates many qualities that make an ideal student. He is as capable of skillfully assimilating and using new concepts, as he is of independent thought and research. He is an incredibly bright student and expertly handles the demand and stress of academic work.

Carlos is more than capable of succeeding in medical school and I hope that you will seriously consider admitting him to your program. If you have any questions or require more information, contact me by email at: [email protected].

Yours Sincerely,

Prof. Lindsey Adams Department of Sociology Colorado College

Dr. Wallis Greene Physics Chair MIT 77 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 (555) 555-5555

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter to support Florence Desjardins in her application for medical school. I taught Florence during the Winter 2017 semester in Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism, as a part of her pre-med studies. Although I have more than one hundred students who enroll in this class each year, I always try to pay special attention to pre-med students. My Teacher’s Assistant Ms. Wanda Sykes, who worked more closely with Florence, was able to assist me in completing this letter.

While it is difficult to assess a student based on a single semester of a freshmen year course, I have three criteria that I use to determine which students show the most promise: attendance and participation (many students who think highly of themselves perform poorly in this respect), the completeness of submitted work (a lack of need for revision demonstrates comprehension and academic ability), and last but not least, I look at the quality of their written answers on mid-term and final exams (these show the student’s clarity and understanding of scientific concepts). In all of these respects, Florence has proven herself to be a student of exceptional ability.

Even in such a large class, it quickly becomes apparent which students are the most attentive and prepared. Before I formally met Florence, I was already familiar with her as being one of my more serious students. Preparing for the writing of this letter, I reviewed Ms. Sykes notes regarding Florence’s exams and written work, which were full of superlatives. Florence is able to clearly understand the concepts presented in class and expertly applied them to her problem-solving. This methodical mindset is necessary for success in a challenging academic setting such as medical school.

Florence’s lab work was outstanding due to her clarity and organization of notes and writing. While reviewing her work on an experiment she performed involving the magnetic fields of a bar magnet and Helmholtz coil, it was clear that she was able to expertly employ formula and explain her work. I should also mention that her sketching of “field lines” was very well done. This sort of excellent work covering all areas of application is rare. In regards to her academic ability, I would place her in the top 5% of the class.

Florence Desjardins will make a fine addition to any medical school program and she has my personal recommendation. Please contact me by mail or email if you have any further questions.

Dr. Wallis Greene [email protected]

It is with great pleasure that I write to you in recommendation of Shalise Williams now that she has completed the Premedicine Program at Penn State University. I taught Shalise in an introductory Biology course and I also served as her academic advisor for the past four years. This has given me ample opportunity to become familiar with her work ethic and potential as a med student.

In my BIOL 11o course, Shalise maintained a near-perfect score throughout the Fall 2014 semester and impressed me with her unwavering positivity and mature work-ethic. Ms. Williams holds herself to a very high standard and this is reflected in all of her work. When writing an assignment on “How Structure Determines Function”, it was clear that Shalise was already familiar with this concept, and she was able to expertly tie in what the class had covered regarding genetic variation to describe how this concept works in evolution. The best science students always have an interest in the subject that goes beyond what is covered in the classroom, and it is clear to me that Shalise has spent much time exploring the background of this field.

Through our advisory sessions, I have come to know Shalise as being a very focused and organized individual. Her ability to plan her time and remain on schedule has enabled her to keep a level head and progress through our Premed Program with great success. As she moves on to medical school, these skills will serve her well in facing the challenges she will inevitably face in grad school.

I’ve spoken with many of her other professors and I can attest that she is able to work as well in a group setting as she can independently, and that she is appreciated by all for her sincere dedication. Her oral and written communication skills are also excellent. I attended a presentation that she gave on behalf of the Red Cross as a volunteer for the Student Red Cross Club and her presesentation, as well as her use of visual aides, were well-realized and very informative. One goal of the Premed Program is to make students recognize the importance of behaving ethically and understand their ethical responsibility as future health care professionals; Shalise’s work with the Red Cross demonstrates her strong moral compass and a desire to affect positive change.

Many students come through our Premedicine Program and it is not uncommon to receive a large number of requests for letters of recommendation each semester. However, I am only able to write for a handful of students each year and only select the most promising candidates. Shalise is the most qualified student applying for medical school from Penn State that I know of this year and, therefore, she receives my highest recommendation.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information regarding Ms. William’s application. I can be reached by telephone at: (555) 555-5555, or email at: [email protected].

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincere Regards,

Prof. Lynn Bridges Prof. of Biology and Academic Advisor Penn State University

Letters of Recommendation for MD Schools

Find out what lor requirements each medical school has to get accepted..

The AMCAS application for medical school typically includes one or more letters of recommendation (LOR). Each MD letter of recommendation, also known as a letter of evaluation, should highlight a student’s academic or professional achievements.

Since AMCAS does not need a student’s letters of evaluation to verify their application, students may submit their application even if their letters have not yet arrived at AMCAS. Application and letters will be made available to medical schools after the application is verified.

Each medical school for students seeking a MD degree has different letter of recommendation requirements that are summarized below. Sort the schools in ascending or descending order, or narrow the listing by searching for your school of interest.

View:  DO Schools

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  • MCAT Score Converter (Pre-2015)
  • Letters of Recommendation for DO Schools
  • Thank You Note Generator

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medical school application letter of recommendation

Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 11/13/23

Asking for recommendation letters for medical school doesn’t have to be intimidating. Read on to learn how to ask for a recommendation letter!

Med school applications require recommendation letters. Our guide will help you successfully navigate how to obtain strong letters of recommendation for your med school application. We’ll explore what to do before, during, and after you ask for the best medical school letter of recommendation possible. 

medical school application letter of recommendation

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How to Ask for Letters of Recommendation for Medical School

We've compiled a  helpful list of ways to help you request medical school letters of recommendation. 

medical school application letter of recommendation

Start Early

​​Start looking for professors to write your letters of recommendation for medical school at least three to four months before your application deadline. You’ll need to approach professors early so they have time and can write a well-detailed and personal letter of recommendation . 

Identify Your Recommenders

The first step in the process of requesting letters of recommendation for medical school is to carefully identify individuals who can provide a comprehensive and positive assessment of your qualifications. Choose recommenders who are well-acquainted with your academic capabilities and work ethic. 

Professors who have taught you in relevant science courses or supervisors from clinical or research experiences are often suitable choices. It's crucial to select individuals who not only know you well but can also speak to your potential as a medical student. 

Keep it Formal

Maintain a formal and professional approach when requesting letters of recommendation for medical school. Initiate the request with a polite email or in-person meeting, expressing gratitude and clearly outlining the purpose of the recommendation. 

Provide essential details, such as deadlines and guidelines, and offer to share materials like your resume for their reference. 

Assist Your Recommenders

After you’ve chosen your recommenders for medical school letters, actively support them in the process. Provide detailed information about your academic achievements, extracurricular experiences , and career goals. Share a well-organized resume and specifics about the medical schools you're applying to. 

This proactive approach ensures personalized and impactful letters that align with your goals. Regular communication and gentle reminders about deadlines help your recommenders manage their time effectively.

Understanding the Process

Before requesting letters of recommendation for medical school, familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the institutions you're applying to, including the number and preferred sources of letters. This knowledge guides your selection of recommenders and facilitates effective communication during the request.

Follow Instructions

Following instructions is crucial when requesting letters of recommendation for medical school.  Review each institution's guidelines on the number and preferred sources of letters and submission procedures. Provide recommenders with all necessary information and materials, following any specified formatting or content requirements. 

To help give you an idea of how to approach a potential recommender, here is a photo of a sample email of how to ask for a letter of recommendation. 

Sample email of how to ask for a letter of recommendation

Asking for Recommendation Letters: Before You Ask

Before asking for a letter of recommendation, it’s important to know the medical school application requirements. The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) provides detailed instructions on preparing letters of evaluation. In particular, take note of the following AMCAS guidelines.

Prepare Your Letter Writers

Ensure your references have the current “ Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant .” This document lets your references know what to include in your rec letters. 

While these guidelines are optional, they’re useful. We suggest you share them because they outline the core competencies medical schools seek in students. 

The process is simpler if your references have a structure to work from. These guidelines help your recommenders write you a strong letter of recommendation.

Find Out if Your Medical Schools Participate in the AMCAS Letter Service

Because your references submit recommendations on your behalf, the AMCAS Letter Service allows letter writers to submit them electronically. AMCAS distributes the recommendation letters to participating med schools. 

You’ll need to check with medical schools to determine if they participate in the AMCAS Letter Service. 

Know the Different Ways Letters of Evaluation Can Be Submitted

Some medical schools participate in the AMCAS Letter Service. There are ways to submit letters of evaluation to AMCAS electronically or by mail. Always check with schools and AMCAS to follow submission instructions.

We’ll cover how many letters you’ll need for your medical school application and other requirements to consider before you connect with potential recommenders. The number of recommendations you need depends on each school’s admissions requirements . 

Most med schools require three letters of evaluation, but some schools ask for four or five. So, check the requirements at each school you’re applying to. There are three types of recommendation letters: 

  • Committee Letters: Committee letters are common. They’re written by your university’s pre-med advising committee. This type of letter isn’t available at every university, so verify with your school in advance.
  • Letter Packets: Letter packets are another option offered at some universities. Letter packets are letters assembled from your references. The school’s career center sends them, but they don’t include letters from pre-med advising committees.
  • Individual Letters: Individual letters are also common. They’re typically written by faculty members, physicians, employers, and research, volunteering, or extracurricular supervisors. 

Determine whether your university offers committee letters of letter packets before asking for a letter of recommendation from faculty members.

Medical School Letters of Recommendation Samples

Here are a few samples of medical school letters of recommendation to help give you an idea of what they should look like.

Name of writer and contact information if not included in letterhead
Dear Admissions Committee,
As the head of Biology at Penn State University, I do not often take the time to write these letters of recommendation. However, when Stacey Lee petitioned me to write this letter on her behalf, I could not refuse. During the past 3 years, I have had the joy of having Stacey in my Introductory Physiology and Physiology Laboratory courses. After noticing her superior analysis skills, I also took her on as a paid assistant to edit freshman papers, a responsibility which she has delivered on in a very professional way.

Why this work s: In this instance, the professor shares their role as the head of the biology department, outlines the duration of their interaction with the student, specifies the classes in which they instructed the student, and highlights the student's assistance in grading papers. 

“ Letterhead
Dear admission committee members,
It's my pleasure to write this recommendation for Jessica Reedy for your medical school program. I first met Jessica when she took my medical microbiology class in the fall of 2019. This was one of my large lecture classes where I often had limited interactions with students on a personal level, but Jessica regularly met with me during my office hours to discuss the possibility of pursuing a career as a doctor.
Jessica is a very hardworking, attentive individual, which helped her exceed in my class. She continually asked thoughtful questions during my lectures to ensure she understood challenging concepts. When working on lab assignments, she paid careful attention to the directions so she could complete the task correctly.
Jessica also impressed me with her friendliness and willingness to help others succeed. She frequently volunteered to help tutor freshmen students struggling to comprehend their coursework. Many of my colleagues mentioned having their students improve tremendously after working with Jessica.
I wholeheartedly recommend Jessica Reedy for your medical school program. Please let me know if you would like to discuss Jessica's character further or if there is anything else I can add.

Why this works : This sample mentions the recommender's relationship to the applicant while describing their traits, such as being a hardworking and attentive student. The recommender also mentions that the applicant had participated in volunteer work to help freshman students with their classwork which showcases the applicants dedication to helping others. 

AAMC Guidelines For Medical School Letter of Recommendation

Here are the AAMC guidelines for medical school letters of recommendation . 

  • The recommender must provide an accurate assessment of the applicant’s suitability for medical school rather than advocate for them.
  • The recommender must mention their relationship to the applicant, how long they’ve known them, what capacity they’ve interacted with, and if the recommender's observations of the applicant are direct or indirect. 
  • Focus on the applicant rather than details of the lab,  course, assignment, job, or institution. 
  • Recommenders should only include information on grades, GPA , or MCAT scores.
  • Recommenders should directly focus on behaviors they’ve observed when describing an applicant’s suitability for medical school.  
  • Request the applicant's consent before including any details deemed private or sensitive.
  • Include distinctive contributions that an applicant could make to an incoming class, such as:
  • The applicant has successfully navigated challenges, detailing how these obstacles resulted in valuable learning experiences and personal growth.
  • Contributions that the applicant would bring to the diversity of a medical school encompassing various aspects like background, attributes, and experiences.
  • Admissions committees appreciate the inclusion of comparative information, but it's crucial to offer context. This should involve details about:
  • The comparison group, such as students in a class you taught, colleagues in your department, or co-workers.
  • Your rationale behind the chosen comparison provides a clear justification for the relevance of the comparison group.

FAQ: Recommendation Letters For Medical School

We’ve outlined several questions and answers to help you understand how to ask for medical school letters of recommendation. 

1. How Early Should I Ask for a Letter of Recommendation for Medical School?

You should ask for a letter of recommendation for medical school three to four months before the submission deadline. This gives you ample time to find a recommender, for them to write it, and for you to review it. 

2. How Many Recommendation Letters Do You Need?

Typically, medical schools ask for a minimum of three recommendation letters. The number of recommendation letters you need is dependent on what the medical school you’re applying to requires. 

3. How Old Can Letters of Recommendation Be for Medical School?

Generally, a letter of recommendation should not be more than one year old. If you have a letter of recommendation that exceeds this timespan and cannot receive a newer one, try to ask the recommender to redate the previous letter they’ve written to solve this issue.

4. When Are Letters of Recommendation Due for Medical School?

For medical school applications, aim to have recommendation letters sent by the date of your secondary application submission, typically in July at the earliest. Medical schools often delay reading recommendation letters until they receive all application materials. 

To avoid anxiety, request that letters be submitted by the end of June, allowing for any potential delays. While recommendation letters may not impact receiving a secondary application, they play a crucial role in interview decisions. Timely submission ensures an organized and comprehensive application process.

5. How Important Are Letters of Recommendation for Medical School?

Letters of recommendation play an important role in medical school admissions , offering insights into an applicant's academic abilities, work ethic, and suitability for a medical career. While not the sole determinant for receiving a secondary application, these letters carry substantial weight in influencing interview decisions. 

Final Thoughts

Medical school letters of recommendation are crucial to your application. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lost with so many factors to consider. After all, you must research application requirements, submission deadlines, forms, how to access online portals, and how to ask for med school recommendation letters.

Our guide simplifies the process and takes the stress out of preparation. Remember to follow these tips to receive the best medical school letter of recommendation!

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