For schools with no/high maximum number of LORs

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Full Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2014
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Is there a consensus on what point yields diminishing returns? Any issues with not including a PI letter with whom you had significant research experience with?

My situation:

2 upper-division bio professor letters: interacted a lot with both of them, significant independent work with them, tutored for their classes, wrote letters for me previously for programs/awards which I won (so the letters can't be that bad). Estimating 1 excellent and 1 amazing letter.

2 PI letters: spent 1 year with PI #1 and got a 3rd author pub. Also took a class with PI #1 and did very well. I left lab #1 to explore other research topics, but he thinks I left for other reasons (i.e. bored with the lab, not enough work to do, some other seemingly trivial reasons). PI #1 wrote letters for me in the past for programs/awards which I won (so again, can't be that bad). PI #2 wrote an amazing letter, no doubts at all: working for her full time right now and submitting 1st author soon. Estimating 1 great-excellent and 1 amazing letter.

1 clinical supervisor letter: excellent letter, volunteered at this pediatric outpatient clinic for 2 years. Supervisor and I know each other very well.

1 English professor letter: just needed a generic non-science letter; interacted with him a bit and did some extra work with him, but he writes a lot of letters and likely uses a very narrow template approach

I'm trying to avoid the non-science faculty letter as much as possible since it's clearly my weakest letter. And while I think my PI #1 letter is quite good, I think it's only a fraction as good as my PI #2 letter. Similar situation for my upper-division bio letters.

I'm just wondering if it's an issue if I don't use my PI #1 letter. Conversely, is it an issue if I send 5 letters (all except for English professor)? I don't want to overwhelm adcoms with unnecessary letters or not send a PI letter and give the wrong impression.