When an applicant selects a person to author his letters of recommendation, it is but understood that he trusts him more than others in the same sphere, and has thus chosen him to give his honest feedback about him/her. Understanding this, the recommender should have an honest conversation with the applicant and if he doesn’t know him well, or thinks he can’t give a substantial and positive appraisal for him, he should tell him directly. Declining the request for Letter Of Recommendation can be tactfully handled by giving reasons of lack of time, lack of in depth knowledge about the candidate which would enable him to rate the applicant, and of course the best one being, not having the capabilities to convince the admissions committee. But if you are taking the responsibility to write the LOR for the candidate, be sure you carry it with proper information which is both factual and influential. The writer should therefore know what to write and what he/she shouldn’t write, as the LOR can torpedo his chances of getting admissions into the school.

Thus organizing the letter (by the recommender) carefully before writing can make it go a way beyond, by making it an effective and captivating one.


The LOR should be properly organized and then written to make the impact it wants on the minds of the admissions committee, so that the overall view looks balanced without being too full of praise or being too unflattering. Some short insights into this, can help the writer cross the river smoothly.

Introduction – To start off, the writer can state here on three main points, which has the power to make the reader gripped to the letter further on and subsequently how he will view the candidate. Firstly, giving a brief about yourself (the recommender’s credibility and qualifications), secondly, on what relationship he has with the candidate and then finally how and why the recommender feels he is in a suitable position to give a feedback about the said candidate. This portion is crucial in a way, as it creates an initial mark on the admissions committee mindset, the authenticity of the letter and the source from where it is coming.

Main Body/ Length

  1. Candidate’s filling of gaps in his career or personal goals, the answer to which is the course he is applying for.
  2. The candidate’s strengths which are in sync with the specific needs of the program.
  3. The author’s observations of the candidate, his own appraisal while he was working with him. This should dwell more on the applicants fit with the school and its program.
  4. General overview of his strengths and accomplishments, his performance and his aptitude for growth and development.
  5. Applicant’s communication skills which includes both written and oral(include publications by candidate ,if any)
  6. Explain personal strengths and attributes of teamwork, innovation, maturity and ability to mingle in diverse set-up etc., with examples.
  7. His community profile or other differentiable and unique traits which make him stand out.
  8. A brief comparison of the candidate in relation to his peers and co-worker and colleagues and on the “whys” on the part of the recommender, of viewing him more suitable for the said school/course.
  9. Candidate’s weaknesses can be presented as his keenness for improvement and growth. The attitude to learn from his own mistakes and readiness to correct it.


A strong conclusion with the contact information of the recommender, who is ready for follow-up.

The LOR has the capacity to Make or Break the application. Keeping this in mind, the recommender has to give such details about the applicant which can be substantiated or documented (if it can be).No traits will be taken seriously, if it is not exemplified. Another key area to note here is the ‘Tone’ of the writing which should be strong enough to be a memorable one, a lackluster LOR is same as a negative one.

“Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is to repeat and review, what is good.” – Plato.