6 Steps To Great Med School Recommendation Letters

by Allen Chiou Dr. David Svec, Joyce Ho, Manuel Lam, and Dr. David Iberri

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Med School Admissions.

As soon as you decide on med school, you should begin to look for people to write your letters of recommendation. You do not want to end up in a position where you need the letter right away and don’t know who to ask. Many schools require at least one letter from a professor in a science class. This can be difficult when your professor lectures to a class of 300 students and does not know you personally. Build relationships with professors by doing research with a favorite professor, taking time to visit the professor in office hours, or serving as a teaching assistant. If you have any activity that you spent a significant amount of time on, make sure you get a letter of recommendation from a supervisor in that activity. This serves as a corroboration of what you said you have done in your application.

1. Pick Writers Who Know You Well

The person who writes your letter of recommendation should be able to communicate with you and know you well enough to talk about you in detail.

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As soon as you decide on med school, you should begin to look for people to write your letters of recommendation. You do not want to end up in a position where you need the letter right away and don’t know who to ask. Many schools require at least one letter from a professor in a science class. This can be difficult when your professor lectures to a class of 300 students and does not know you personally. Build relationships with professors by doing research with a favorite professor, taking time to visit the professor in office hours, or serving as a teaching assistant. If you have any activity that you spent a significant amount of time on, make sure you get a letter of recommendation from a supervisor in that activity. This serves as a corroboration of what you said you have done in your application.

1. Pick Writers Who Know You Well

The person who writes your letter of recommendation should be able to communicate with you and know you well enough to talk about you in detail.

2. Give the Writers Everything They Need to Write a Good Recommendation

I gave my letter writers a copy of my personal statement, which explained why I wanted to be a doctor, and my resume. These are great resources for letter writers.

3. Meet With Your Letter Writer

Meet with your letter writer and talk with them about what your plans for med school are and what you would like to highlight in the letter. This is much more personal than sending an email and attaching a document.

4. Tell Them What You Need

They are doing you a favor, be friendly and helpful. Let them know why you want to be a doctor and what they can do to help you reach that goal.

5. Give Them Plenty of Time

Ask for the letter at least a month ahead of time. Make sure to ask for the letter a little bit early so that if they forget, you will have a little “wiggle-room”.

6. Check in With Your Letter Writer

Remind them of your letter a couple of weeks before it was due by emailing them and asking if they need more materials or had any questions. Remember to thank your professors when they give you your letters.

 
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