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Guidelines for Letter Writers

This is the condensed version of: "Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant" by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Review full document at: https://www.aamc.org/download/349990/data/lettersguidelinesbrochure.pdf

  1. The major guidelines:
    1. Provide an accurate assessment of the applicant's suitability for medical school
    2. Briefly explain your relationship with the applicant
    3. Focus on details about the applicant, not about the lab, course, assignment, job or institution.
    4. Include information on grades, GPA or MCAT scores [only] if you are providing context to help interpret them.
    5. Focus on behaviors you have observed directly
    6. Admissions committees find comparisons helpful (but include information about the comparison group and your rationale for the comparison).
  2. Keys areas of interest
    1. Discuss a candidate's potential to make "Unique Contributions to the Incoming Class"
    2. Discuss "Core, Entry Level Competencies" you have observed (See full document for more details)
      1. Thinking and Reasoning Competencies
      2. Intrapersonal Competencies
      3. Science Competencies
      4. Interpersonal Competencies
  3. Letter conventions
    1. Use letterhead or, if letterhead is not available or appropriate, include a heading with your contact information
    2. Date and hand-sign the letter
    3. Letters have no stated minimum or maximum length, but one to two pages is typical
    4. "To Whom It May Concern" is an appropriate salutation
  4. Share personal information only with permission of the applicant
    1. Disclosure of information on health issues, family health issues, finances or other potentially sensitive topics should be done only with permission
    2. If in doubt, ask the applicant
  5. Confidentiality
    1. If the applicant requests that you write a "confidential" letter (as do most), your text will not be shared with the student
    2. Others will see your letter on a "need to know" basis, including, for example:
      1. The author of Dartmouth's Composite Letter
      2. Various participants in the admissions processes at medical schools, including admissions office personnel, admissions committee members, and interviewers
      3. The staff of Dartmouth's Health Professions Program
      4. Various administrative staff at Interfolio and AMCAS

Please feel free to contact Annette Hamilton in the Health Professions program at annette.hamilton@dartmouth.edu or 603/646-3377 if you have questions.

 

Last Updated: 4/27/17