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Letters of Recommendation

Whom to ask? How to get good letters...

Man writing a letter

All medical schools require letters of recommendation (or sometimes referred to as letters of evaluation). These LORs are a critical component of your medical school application. They are used to help assess your personality and personal characteristics, from an unbiased 3rd party perspective. All LORs must be dated (preferably within the last year), be written on letterhead, and be signed by the letter writer (no electronic signatures).

Whom Should I Ask?

Most medical schools want 3-4 LORs. (Texas schools only want 2-3.) If you are going to use the BYU letter-tracker system to collect your LORs, you may have up to 6 letters each in the AMCAS and AACOMAS letter packets, and up to 4 LORs in the TMDSAS letter packet. (More information may be found on this website in our separate letter-tracker info sheet.)

Generally speaking it is recommended that you have:

At least 1, and preferably 2, science faculty letters. “Science faculty” letters are written by instructors that you have had in a lecture course in the BCPM disciplines (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math).

One letter from a physician that you’ve shadowed. Most osteopathic medical schools require or prefer that the physician LOR be written by a DO. Allopathic medical schools typically don’t have a preference for MD or DO physician letters.

Other LOR’s may be written by research mentors, non-science faculty, mentors, someone with a supervisory role (employer, community service, patient exposure, coach, etc.).

It is very important to request LORs from those who know you well. Don’t get caught up in the name and/or title of the letter writer. The letter writer should be able to speak to such things as your work ethic, integrity, responsibility, personality/people skills, empathy/compassion, maturity, motivation for medicine, etc. They need to be your strongest advocates in supporting your application to medical school.

Whom Not to Ask!

Don’t ask for LOR’s from:

  • RELATIVES
  • Friends
  • Clergy
  • Politicians
  • Alumni from a specific medical school
  • Teaching assistants

When you request LORs to be submitted to the various application services, you will be asked to either waive or not waive access to your LORs. The choice is up to you. However, medical schools much prefer that you waive access to the letters, as this helps ensure the confidentiality of the LOR, so that is our recommendation as well.

BYU does not have a “committee”, and therefore we do not write “committee letters”. The premed advisors do write LORs for applicants that they know well enough to be able to write a positive letter that will be of benefit to the applicant.