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Blog / Everything You Need To Know About Medical School Recommendation Letters

Everything You Need to Know About Medical School Recommendation Letters

Written by Nassim on May 3, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Medical School Recommendation Letters

When it comes to getting into medical school, your letters of recommendation (LORs) are key. How do you make sure they are as convincing as possible? What should you keep in mind when asking for them? In this post, we’ll answer all your questions about medical school letters of recommendation and provide tips on making the most of them. Let’s get started!

Why Are Letters of Recommendation So Important? 

A recommendation letter is one of the most important documents you will need to prepare when applying to medical school. The letter, also called a reference letter, is a testimonial from someone who can confirm your qualifications and personality. The person writing the letter will usually be an academic or professional tutor who knows you well.  

Some argue that it is even more critical than a personal letter because of the common prejudice in that letter. After all, a personal letter is about showing yourself in the best light. On the other hand, recommendations are written by respected professionals such as mentors, professors, and doctors. The admissions committee will probably accept your words. It’s a big deal if the person you’re trying to write a letter of recommendation works closely with you and gives you a high rating. Negative testimonials are pretty troublesome. Bad or lukewarm testimonials damage your application. You need to work on this process in many organizations in advance and choose your letter wisely.

Recommendation letters can vary in length, but they typically range from one to two pages. In the letter, the writer will describe your strengths, highlight your accomplishments, and discuss why they believe you would be an excellent medical student. The letter can also provide context for your application, explaining any unique circumstances or challenges you have faced. A well-written recommendation letter can significantly impact your whole application process. Therefore, it is important to choose your references carefully and ensure that you give them plenty of time to write a strong letter on your behalf.

Everything You Need to Know About Medical School Letters of Recommendation

Is There a Specific Number That’s Needed? 

Most medical schools in the US and Canada ask for at least three letters of recommendation. But depending on the school, you may need 4 or 5. So please check this information at the school you are applying for. Don’t forget that some medical schools are quite strict with that number. So do not send fewer or more recommendations if they request exactly four letters. 

The recommendation letter is what your school evaluates you as a candidate. Your reviewer’s letter will be edited and mailed to your school’s Career Center. The medical school may require different letters of recommendation depending on your current situation and work history. 

For example, AMCAS can upload up to 10 references, and AACOMAS application systems can upload up to 6 references. If you apply through TMDSAS, you can upload up to 4 letters of recommendation. Please note that schools applying through AACOMAS and TMDSAS will receive all uploaded letters, but AMCAS allows you to choose which school will receive which letter. Suppose you do not include the letter in your original submission. In that case, the letter will be sent to the school, and you will not need to submit a recommendation letter to confirm your application. However, some will not be invited to the interview until the LOR is submitted. Therefore, be sure to submit them promptly.

Whom Should You Ask to Write Your Recommendation Letter?

While getting into medical school is certainly an adventure, it’s also a very competitive one. In addition to a strong MCAT and GPA score, you’ll also need to submit letters from people who can confirm your ability as a future doctor. So who should you ask?

First, consider whether you have any personal connections to any doctors or other medical professionals. These individuals would be able to write letters of recommendation that could carry a lot of weight with the admissions committee. If you don’t have any personal connections, though, don’t worry – there are still plenty of people who can write strong letters on your behalf. Look for professors or instructors who have taught you in relevant subjects, such as biology or chemistry. You might also ask a tutor or mentor from a previous internship or maybe job. The important thing is to choose individuals who know you well and can speak of your strengths as a future medical student. With strong letters of recommendation in hand, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your dreams.

If you’re still in college, your professors are a great option. Other possibilities include bosses, mentors, and community leaders. The important thing is to choose people who will be able to write thoughtfully and glowingly about you. Once you’ve identified your potential letter writers, be sure to give them plenty of time to write the letter and send it off. And don’t forget to say thanks – a handwritten note goes a long way!

Who Should Not Recommend Me? 

Don’t ask anyone with a positive bias against you, such as friends or family. Instead, your letter should come from people who can make honest and unbiased recommendations. 

If that person does not seem hesitant or enthusiastic about submitting a letter of recommendation on your behalf, do not hurry. Find someone else instead. Poorly written or neutral letters can endanger the excellent applications of medical school.

Everything You Need to Know About Medical School Letters of Recommendation

When Should You Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

 Ask the reviewer to write a letter of recommendation at least one month before the application deadline. Sometimes it is advantageous to ask for a letter much sooner. For example, suppose you are participating in a research project in the summer of your second to the first year and plan to complete your research by the end of the summer. In that case, you should ask your research leader for a letter of recommendation that summer. This ensures that they can remember your achievements and strengths. 

The same applies to letters from your professor. If you have a particularly good grade in the 2nd or 3rd-grade undergraduate course, feel free to ask for a letter after the course. To preserve these early letters, you can ask your writer to send the letter to your school’s career center, your career counselor or advisor, or a similar office. Once the application process has begun, you need to inform the referrer of the letter storage location and deadline.

How Do You Go About Requesting Letters of Recommendation?

When you’re applying to medical school, one of the most important documents of your application will be your letters of recommendation. These letters can testify to your academic abilities and personal character, and they can come from a variety of sources, including teachers, mentors, and employers. So how do you go about requesting letters of recommendation?

First, it’s important to choose your references carefully. Make sure to select individuals who know you well and can speak to your strengths. Once you’ve selected your references, reach out to them directly to request a letter of recommendation. Be sure to give them enough time to write the letter, and provide them with any relevant information, such as a copy of your resume or CV. Thank them in advance for their time and effort.

While requesting letters of recommendation may seem daunting at first, following these simple steps will help ensure that you get the strong recommendations you need to get into the medical school of your choice.



What Should Be Written in Your Letter of Recommendation?

When you’re applying to medical school, your letter of recommendation is one of the most important parts of your application. This way, the admissions committee will know who you are and why you want to be a doctor. Here are a few things to mention in your letter of recommendation: 

– Recommendation letters from people who know you well and can speak to your character 

– A description of your motivation for wanting to become a doctor 

– Reasons why you believe you would be a good fit for the medical school 

– Your academic record and any other relevant information that would give the admissions committee a better sense of who you are 

The letter of recommendation is your opportunity to sell yourself to the admissions committee, so make sure to put your best foot forward!

What Makes a Strong Letter of Recommendation for Medical School?

A strong letter of recommendation for medical school is one that paints a comprehensive picture of the applicant. It should address the applicant’s academic achievements, but it should also talk about their personal qualities. The letter should highlight the applicant’s motivation for pursuing a career in medicine and their commitment to helping others. Ultimately, the letter should give the reader a sense of who the applicant is as a person and why they would be an asset to the medical profession. Recommendation letters that simply reiterate what is already present in the application are not likely to be helpful in the admissions process. 

Instead, recommendation letters need to provide new information that gives insight into the applicant’s character. Recommendation letters should be written by individuals who know the applicant well and can speak to their unique strengths. When done right, a strong letter of recommendation can be an important factor in an applicant’s journey to becoming a doctor.

How Long Should it Be?

Is there a magic number for the length of a letter of recommendation?

As with most things related to medical school applications, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long a recommendation letter should be. Some schools may have specific guidelines, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for around two pages. This will give the reader a comprehensive overview of your accomplishments without overwhelming them with too much information. However, there may be some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if you have conducted groundbreaking research that you want the admissions committee to know about, you may need to go into more detail. In general, two pages is a good length for a recommendation letter.

What Are the Consequences of Not Submitting Your Letters on Time?

With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about those all-important recommendation letters. If you’re planning to attend a medical school, you’ll need at least two letters of recommendation from your professors. While you might be tempted to wait until the last minute to ask for these letters, doing so can have serious consequences. Recommendation letters are usually written on a tight schedule, and your professors may be unable to accommodate a last-minute request. In addition, they may be less likely to write a strong letter if they feel rushed. So if you’re hoping to get into medical school, it’s important to submit your request for recommendation letters well in advance. Giving your professors enough time to write their letters will increase your chances of being admitted to the school of your dreams.

Example of Asking for a Recommendation Letter

Hello Рrоfessоr Smith,

I hope you are doing well! I greatly enjoyed taking yоur “Heаt аnd Thermodynamics” course last semester. It wаs оne оf my favorite courses at X university, esрeсiаlly the lаbоrаtоry wоrk.

I аm сurrently рreраring my mediсаl sсhооl аррliсаtiоns, аnd I was wondering if yоu wоuld be willing to write a strong letter оf reсоmmendаtiоn оn my behаlf? If yоu аre willing, I саn рrоvide yоu with suррlementаl dосuments tо аid you in writing your letter, inсluding my trаnsсriрts, СV, рersоnаl stаtement drаft, аnd all the necessary guidelines for reference submission.

Thank you for considering this request.

Best Regаrds,
Ааrоn Stein


Although this blog post can’t guarantee you a spot in your favorite medical school, it will arm you with the correct information you need to get recommendation letters that make an impact. Check out our other blogs for more information on how to stand out from the rest of the applicant pool and land that acceptance letter. 

To take your application even further, partner with the Jack Westin Admissions Counseling team.


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