Disclaimer: This post was automatically generated by a random permutation of the text contents of an infinite number of recommendation letters. This thread is for 2018 applicants (those who will be entering medical school in 2018) to ask questions about letters of recommendation. Please do not create additional threads regarding LOR concerns. Such topics will be merged to this thread. Before asking a question, PLEASE READ THE FAQ, both here in this thread AND on the AACOMAS website! It is quite possible that your question will have already been answered. Also, each thread has a search function. Please use it before asking your question by clicking the "Search this Thread" button near the top of the page. This thread is brought to you by the Pre-DO Volunteer Staff. Ask away, and good luck!! Frequently Asked Questions (Credit to @Lucca for helping create this thread) 1. What kinds of letters do I need to apply to medical school? For most schools, you need a MINIMUM of two letters from science professors, and 1 letter from a non-science professor. Additionally, many DO schools will prefer or require a letter from a DO physician. Other letters that may be helpful: a letter from an employer who knows your skills well, a letter from a physician you shadowed/worked with who knows your skills well, a letter from a volunteer coordinator who knows your skills well. The key is that the letters be exceptional. A detailed letter that can give clear examples of why you are an excellent candidate for medical school will generally trump a tepid letter from a famous person. Every school is different. Please check each school's individual letter requirements by visiting their website. 1a. But doesn't every school have different letter requirements? Yes, they do. Please refer to the AACOMAS 2018 COB which has specific requirements for LOR per school. 1b. But do I really really have to get X type of letter? (2 non-science, 1 science, a letter from my PI) The short answer: yes. The long answer: Maybe...it depends on the school. No one on SDN can answer this for you. But the general rule in medical school admissions is do what you are told. Get the two science letters. If you can't...call the schools you're applying to and see if they will make an exception. But be aware that the answer may be no. 2. I am a non-traditional student and have been out of school for awhile. Can I get around the letter requirements? The simple answer is probably no. If you are a non-traditional student, this doesn't mean that you have an easier time getting into medical school; the same hoops still need to be jumped through. Being out of school for awhile is likely a problem in itself; schools want to see recent evidence that you can handle the coursework necessary to get through medical school. Take some classes, form relationships, and get the letters you need to. If you must, you can contact each school individually to see if they would be ok with you submitting alternate letters, but be aware that the answer may be "no". 3. My school has a medical school admissions committee, and they produce a committee letter. But the letter won't be released until really LATE! (August, September, October). Can I just skip the committee and collect my own letters? The general wisdom on this topic is that if your school has a committee, USE IT! If you don't, you will be asked why and will need a very good reason. You are circumventing the committee at your own risk. 4. What are letter services such as Interfolio, and why do people use them? Interfolio and other companies provide secure online letter holding services. You can have your letters uploaded to these services at any time so that you're not scrambling at the last minute (or during the summer!) to get letters into your application. This can be especially beneficial when you are 9 months or so out from your planned application cycle, but know the professor you have NOW will write you a great letter. You can have them write the letter, upload it to a letter service, and then many months later have the letter sent to AACOMAS once the application opens. When you do this, you have the ability to add on both your AACOMAS ID and the Letter ID to the letter. All your letter writer needs to do is upload the letter (or mail it in) on letterhead and with a signature. These sites are secure and they do not allow you to read the letter beforehand. 5. What else about letters do I need to know? Your letter must be SIGNED, and should be on OFFICIAL LETTERHEAD whenever possible. This is something that holds people up every year. Some schools will even hold up your application because of this. 6. How should I ask someone for a letter of req? On this one, I will give my own experience. For each letter writer, I prepared a packet. In the packet I had: A list of all of my science grades (or non-science grades for a non-science prof) A copy of my resume A rough draft of my personal statement A guide to writing medical school letters (which can be found by googling), a reminder that the letter needed to be signed and on letterhead. Before handing them this (because who wants all that before they even say yes!) I asked them point blank if they "would feel comfortable writing me a strong letter of recommendation for medical school". Always do this in person!!! If they hesitate...walk away. Seriously. You don't want this person writing your letter. When they enthusiastically said yes, I pulled the packet out of my backpack and gave it to them. Because I used Interfolio, I did not need to provide them with my AMCAS ID or Letter ID, but instead told them that they would get an email from Interfolio that evening with instructions on how to upload the letter. Give them a FIRM deadline (2-4 weeks seems to work best) for when you need the letter. Don't ask at the last minute. Don't ask when you think a billion other people will be asking. Do offer to provide them with any other supplementary information they would like. And do give them a thank-you note (and maybe a Starbucks card) when they submit the letter. 7. OMG! My letter writer has not written my letter!!! It has been minutes/hours/days/weeks/months and I'm freaking out!! What do I do!? First, stop by or email and gently remind them that you need the letter by X date. If this doesn't work, I have given them a premature Thank-You note with a small token, and this seems to light a fire. I recommended this method to someone on SDN last year and it apparently worked like a charm. If this isn't working....you do the same thing you do whenever something goes awry - find a plan B. Ask someone else...two other people even, just in case this person does not come through. You can't have too many letters. But you can have too few. 8. Do I have to waive my right to see the letters? No. But if you don't schools might not see them as letters that carry much weight. Waive your right. If you know the person well enough, you should have a pretty good idea of what they are going to write. 9. I can't find a DO to write me a letter! What now? It is imperative that you submit this letter to schools that require it. If it is in the middle of the cycle you should contact the specific institutions and ask for an extension to submit this letter or if an alternative is allowed. Do everything you can to try and receive this letter. If you have had trouble finding a DO you can do the following: Use this directory. Search your academic/university institutions and browse through their academic departments. They will usually show whether the physician is an MD or DO and may even have contact information for you to get ahold of them. Please send me a PM if you know of additional questions suitable for the FAQ.