When to Ask for Medical School Letters of Recommendation
To obtain the best individual letters of recommendation for medical school, it’s best to ask early. This is true when asking for a premedical committee letter as well, since the evaluation process often begins early in the academic year. That’s why it’s best to become familiar with the guidelines and timetable set by your school’s premedical committee and to stick to it precisely.
For individual letters of recommendation, asking early gives you time to recover when promised letters arrive later than you expect, or never arrive. If you fail to get letters of recommendation on time, your file may not be reviewed by the med school until later in the cycle.
With rolling admissions (where a school begins reviewing applications before the deadline), every week’s delay while you await the arrival of your letters may mean interview slots are being filled.
Asking for letters by early spring gives your evaluators plenty of time to write and submit them so that they’re available for the secondary stage of the application process. If you submit your primary applications early in the cycle, you’ll start getting secondaries by mid-summer.
Having faculty letters safely in hand early is especially important because instructors may not be on campus in the summer, making them much more difficult to track down. If you ask early and someone doesn’t come through, you still have time to seek a backup.