Everything from finding the right online university to finding the right job!

Letter of Recommendation

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation
Tips for Writing a Letter of Recommendation
Letter of Recommendation Template
Letter of Recommendation for Scholarship
How to Request for Letter of Recommendation
Reference Letter Format
Free Sample Letter of Recommendation

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for Medical School Admissions

Writing letters of recommendation for medical school is a time-consuming but important task. As you probably know, the admissions process for medical school is extremely competitive. In any given year, only around 40% of the students who apply are accepted. Even students who have strong grades and standardized test scores need excellent and convincing letters of recommendation in order to help them gain admission. The perspective you provide in your letter can be influential in determining whether a student has a successful application.

Therefore, we have put together these guidelines to help you think about the task before you.

  • When a student asks you to write a letter of recommendation, know that you are not obligated to do so, and decide whether you can write enthusiastically enough to be helpful to the student. Since the vast majority of recommendations are positive, those that are neutral are interpreted as negative and can impair a student’s chances for admission. If your honest evaluation may handicap a student, and if you are uncomfortable writing favorably, you have every right to decline a student’s request for a letter.

  • In writing, please 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.”

  • This same level of specificity is important in discussing non-academic matters too. Take, for instance, the following statement: “John’s commitment to the Narberth Ambulance Squad and to the people we serve is extraordinary.” The medical schools would find this assessment all the more useful if more information were added, such as: “John’s commitment to the Narberth Ambulance Squad and to the people we serve is extraordinary. While most of our volunteers live within the township, John commutes 45 minutes each way from Philadelphia by bus and by train for each of his shifts. And his record of attendance is perfect. This conscientious behavior is typical of the way he conducts himself.”

  • Try to compare the student to others you have known in a similar capacity. Statements like, “In terms of intellectual talent and drive, John ranks in the top 10% of all undergraduate students I have taught over the past seven years,” can help an admissions committee place your recommendation into a broader context.

  • Admissions committees often interpret omissions of relevant information as implicitly negative. For example, if you praise a student’s academic work but say nothing about him/her as a person, an admissions officer may conclude that the student is smart but socially inept. Therefore, it is ideal to try to touch on the following topics in any letter of recommendation: the student’s intellectual strengths, level of motivation, personal character, commitment to medicine, and interpersonal skills. Of course, your ability to comment on these topics will vary depending on how you know the student.

  • Statements that are negative or refer to problems can jeopardize a student’s candidacy. A comment like, “John is sometimes abrasive, but I don’t think he ever means to be rude,” or “John worked hard but his exams were never quite up to snuff,” can give an admissions committee pause. If you have serious concerns about a student, whether of an academic or personal nature, then it may be better to ask the student to look elsewhere for a recommendation.

  • If you wish to give a thoughtful evaluation of a student’s weaknesses (as well as his/her strengths), please try to couple it with an explanation of how they will not interfere with the student’s ability to perform well in medical school.

  • Please omit references to the student’s appearance, as they trivialize the recommendation. If you want to discuss personal charm, which is frequently a relevant asset, describe its effect on others. For example: “John’s warmth and sense of humor naturally draw others toward him and help make him a welcome participant in our laboratory’s weekly meetings.”

  • Unless the student requests otherwise, please do not address your letter to a particular medical school. In most cases, your letter will be sent to every medical school to which the student applies.

  • 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, since the medical schools generally find confidential letters to be more convincing and compelling. However, if you, as the author of a confidential letter, wish to show a copy to the student, that is absolutely your right.

  • Please type your letter of recommendation. You may type it directly onto the recommendation form, or print it onto a separate page and attach it to the form.


Test Preparation Schools & Programs (by State) Letter & Writing Career & Training

Link to us | Home | Privacy Policy Copyright 2020 The EDUers.com. All Rights Reserved