Guidelines for SUPPORTING Letter Writers

If you have been asked to be a COMPOSITE Letter Writer, please email This page is for SUPPORTING Letter Writers!

This is the condensed version of the "Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant" by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Review full document at

The Major Guidelines:

  1. Provide an accurate assessment of the applicant's suitability for medical school
    1. Briefly explain your relationship with the applicant
    2. Focus on details about the applicant, not about the lab, course, assignment, job, or institution.
    3. Include information on grades, GPA, or MCAT scores [only] if you are providing context to help interpret them.
    4. Focus on behaviors you have observed directly
    5. Admissions committees find comparisons helpful (but include information about the comparison group and your rationale for the comparison).

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)
      • Thinking and Reasoning Competencies
      • Intrapersonal Competencies
      • Science Competencies
      • Interpersonal Competencies

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

Share Personal Information Only with the 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


    1. Please do NOT share the content of your letter! The applicant has waived their right to see letters!
    2. Others will see your letter on a "need to know" basis, including, for example:
      • The author of the applicant's Dartmouth Composite Letter
      • Various participants in the admissions processes at medical schools, including admissions office personnel, admissions committee members, and interviewers
      • Dartmouth's Health Professions Program staff
      • Various administrative staff at PrivateFolio and AMCAS

Please feel free to contact the Health Professions program at or by calling 603-646-3377 if you have questions.