Letters of Evaluation
When writing letters of evaluation for students applying for a graduate program in a health profession or medical school, the following information may be helpful to you. It will assist you in preparing a letting which will be most useful to the admissions committee. The information was obtained from medical school admissions committee members, but it is applicable to all health professions.
MOST HELPFUL CONTENT
1. Relationship between the applicant and the evaluator, the extent of personal knowledge about the applicant and the ability to give specific examples and document evidence about behavior. Statements included: how and for how long the applicant was known, whether the applicant ever worked with the individual, and an accounting of specific interactions with the applicant.
2. Information on personal characteristics of the applicant, including integrity, honesty, reliability, professionalism, determination, leadership, and motivation. Desirable information includes: examples or statements that reflect an applicant’s character, service commitment, personal struggle; pointed remarks concerning the seriousness, aptitude, and integrity of the applicant; potential as a physician and personal assessment as an individual with respect to humanity, responsibility and examples of those qualities; and impressions of professionalism, character, seriousness, sincerity of the applicant.
3. Contrasted strengths and weaknesses of the applicant, including narrative comparisons of the applicant with other applicants and global numerical comparisons of applicants. Examples include: information about motivation/how the student ranks among others who were pre-med; numerical ranking with others; character strengths and weaknesses; how the candidate compares academically to cohorts; and what the writer admires in the applicant.
4. Description of the applicant’s social skills, including interpersonal skills, the ability to interact in groups and participate in class, and the ability to establish peer relationships. Committee members wrote: some idea that the applicant works well with others; their work ethic and suitability for the demands of medicine; interactive style/communication skills; evidence of the ability to interact with peers/patients; and evidence of a compassionate and ‘giving’ nature.
5. Academic performance of the applicant, describing academic aptitude and scholarship in a manner not addressed in the application, and clarification of unique circumstances. Examples include: a statement of preparedness/appropriateness of this applicant for medical school; academic attributes aside from material in the application; clarification of hardship faced such as ‘she did not do well in the second quarter because her sister died.’
LEAST HELPFUL CONTENT
1. Repetition of information from the application, and lists of nonacademic accomplishments available elsewhere in the application.
2. Unsubstantiated superlatives or vague generalities, including the use of accolades and broad praise without giving examples to support the statements.
3. Comments regarding grades in one particular class, detailed description of performance in one course without giving any particular insight into the student’s intellectual ability, motivation or other pertinent characteristics. Comments included: a simple account of a course and grade earned; ranking in a course; and, detailed description of a course being taught.
4. Lack of a strong relationship between the applicant and the letter writer, with letters that convey a lack of first- hand acquaintance.
5. Inclusion of irrelevant information, including detailed descriptions of research, religious beliefs or hearsay.
Thank you for providing a letter of evaluation for our applicant. We suggest using the following guidelines to assist you in writing an effective letter that will enable the admissions committee of the professional program to properly evaluate the candidate.
Areas noted below are characteristics suggested by one medical school as important areas to address. In narrative form, address only those areas in which you can honestly evaluate the candidate, providing details or examples of situations to lend credibility and a sense of personal knowledge.
Academic Performance and Intellectual Ability
INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY AND RETENTION: Ability to integrate and work with a large quantity of information and the ability to remember.
INTELLECTUAL KEENESS AND DEPTH: Ability to quickly grasp, analyze and understand complex material and concepts.
ORIGINALITY AND IMAGINATION: Ability to envision and define new perspectives, arrangements, approaches.
RESOURCEFULLNESS: Ability to manage resources already at hand, and to develop and manage new resources.
Motivation for the profession
ENJOYMENT AND COMMITTEEMENT TO: (1) the study and application of science; (2) interacting and working with others; (3) providing service and assistance to others; and (4) INDUSTRY: Application, energy, perseverance, stamina and endurance.
INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS: Ability to work with and get along with others, rapport, cooperation, attitudes toward supervision.
EMPATHY: Sensitivity to the needs of others, consideration and tact COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Clarity of expression and articulation in oral and written communications.
MATURITY AND EMOTIONAL STABILITY: Personal development, ability to cope with life situations, performance under pressure, mood stability, consistency in ability to relate to others. JUDGEMENT: Ability to analyze an operational problem with common sense and decisiveness. SELF CONFIDENCE: Assuredness, capacity to achieve with awareness of own strengths and weakness.
INDEPENDENCE: Ability to act autonomously with productivity and comfort.
MORAL CHARACTER: Personal integrity and honesty.
DEPENDABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY: Reliability, promptness, conscientiousness.
Distinctiveness of the Individual
Discuss those things that you think are the most important to know about the student regarding qualification for admission to the indicated program.