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The Four Things that Your LoR Should Mention

The article will also provide tips on how a letter of recommendation should be structured and what all it should cover.

Mahesh Ramani

Spend some time with your referee and explain to him/her, which course you aspire to study and provide any test scores or academic details that you think could go on the letter.

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Hope you enjoyed reading the previous article on how to approach a potential referee and ask for a letter of recommendation. In this article we will look at the types of LoR based on the subject selected by the student. The article will also provide tips on how a letter of recommendation should be structured and what all it should cover. 

Content Varies:

The content of the letter of recommendation varies, based on the course that you as a student aspire to study. Some points are provided below for each of the major subject categories.

Engineering Studies:

A letter of recommendation written in case you plan to study an engineering course; should highlight the following qualities:
  • Details of your internships and projects.
  • Your communication skills.
  • Details of any national or state-level seminars and competitions that you have won.
  • Knowledge of your subject specialisation.

Management Studies:

A letter of recommendation written in case you plan to study a management course, especially an MBA; should highlight the following qualities:
  • Your leadership, team-motivation and managerial skills.
  • In case you have specialised in HR, Marketing or Project Management - the letter should highlight your achievements. This adds value if you have work-experience and the letter is from your team-lead or manager.
  • Career achievements

Arts and Humanities Studies:

If you are planning to study a course in arts and humanities then the letter of recommendation; should highlight the following qualities:
  • Your excellent communication skills.
  • Your expertise in the chosen area of study.
  • Your creative ability.
  • Details of your portfolio if applicable.

Medical Studies:

Studying medicine abroad is a popular option; some students from Asian countries opt to study medicine in Russia; where it is relatively less costly and students learn Russian as well. The letter of recommendation should include the following points:
  • Your scores in the medical entrance tests like the MCAT.
  • Theoretical subject knowledge
  • Scores in the undergraduate exams (in case you are applying for a postgraduate medical course)
  • People-management skills

Some Points to Note:

  • As indicated in the previous two articles; find a referee who knows you and has guided you in your academics or professional career. Ensure that all the points mentioned in the letter are factually correct.
  • Spend some time with your referee and explain to him / her, which course you aspire to study and provide transcripts of any qualifying tests whose scores you wish to add in the letter.
  • If the institution has prescribed a word limit for the letter; ensure that the referee adheres to the word limit. Ideally the letter should not exceed four to five paragraphs and be within 400 to 500 words.
  • The language should be formal and easy to understand and structured well.
  • Any references to achievements or any specific awards should be direct and clear.
  • Please ensure that no false or incorrect information is given in the letter.
  • A big turn-off for institution admission officers is the presence of spelling and grammatical errors; request your referee to take their time and write carefully. Unless the institution mandates that you do not read the letter, take your time and read the letter to see if any errors are there.

Structure of an ideal LoR:

  • A clear salutation and date and city location.
  • A crisp introduction about the referee
  • The recommendation where your referee recommends you to be admitted to the course of your choice.
  • A quick summary of significant academic achievements, examination scores, talents and skills.
  • A concluding paragraph on why your admission to the course will help you achieve your academic and professional ambitions.
This article described the types of the letters of recommendation based on the course and subject; and the points to be kept in mind when the letter is drafted. The next article in this series will look at a letter of recommendation in more detail and examine the content that goes into the letter along with example lines for each section of the letter.
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