The guidelines below may assist you in writing an effective letter and your letter will:

  • assist us in composing a Committee evaluation on behalf of the applicant (for medical/dental school applications).
  • be sent by us, at the applicant’s request, to professional programs to which the applicant is applying.
  • remain strictly confidential. 

The most helpful letters

  • Provide an accurate assessment of the applicant’s suitability rather than advocate for them.
  • Briefly explain the nature and duration of your relationship to the applicant and whether you are writing based on direct or indirect observations. 
  • Provide comparison information that includes context, e.g. the comparison group and your rationale for the final comparison.
  • Focus on the applicant rather than details about the course, lab, assignment, job or institution.
  • Address some of the key areas of interest described below.
  • Do NOT repeat information available within the application, e.g. grades, test scores, GPA, activities, unless you are providing context to help interpret them.


Unique contributions to the incoming class

  • Obstacles that the applicant had to overcome and if applicable, how those obstacles led to new learning and growth.
  • Diversity, broadly defined; background, attributes, experiences, etc.

Core competencies: identify how the applicant has or has not demonstrated any of these competencies important for future success.

  • THINKING AND REASONING: Critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, scientific reasoning, written communication.
  • SCIENCE COMPETENCIES: As they related to living systems and human behavior. Applies knowledge and skill in the natural sciences to solve problems related to molecular and macrosystems including biomolecules, molecules, cells, and organs. 
  • INTRAPERSONAL COMPETENCIES:  Ethical responsibility to self and others; reliability and dependability; resilience and adaptability; capacity for improvement.
  • INTERPERSONAL COMPETENCIES:  Service orientation; social skills (awareness of and appropriate response to others’ needs, goals, feelings; treats others with respect), cultural competence, teamwork, oral communication.

To review the AAMC’s complete guidelines, please visit the Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation.