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How To Write A Letter Of Recommendation


A letter of recommendation is a powerful tool in making a positively decisive impression on your choice of overseas university/college for further education. While writing it may seem straightforward enough, crafting it to suit your education requirements is a tricky task.

There is a fine line in letting your LOR become an opportunity for absolute rejection. So, if you’re seeking advice on writing the perfect letter of recommendation for students going abroad, keep reading to understand and implement the guidelines as needed.  

What is a Letter of Recommendation?

In the context of education, a letter of recommendation is like a reference letter giving the reader a detailed outlook on the student’s character and attributes while also emphasizing his/her personal achievements, expertise, practical knowledge, and educational accomplishments. 

A LOR is supposed to be honest and precise as well as carry a complete outlook to give a firm first impression. 

In academic circles, a letter of recommendation is generally required when a student is signing up for a graduate, post-graduate, and further educational programs. There is a specific LOR format to follow if you want to leave a positive impact on the concerned university/college officials. 

Who is eligible to write a Letter of Recommendation?

Not just anyone can pen down a letter of recommendation. The ideal option would be your subject mentor or professor, maybe even your counselor if the situation demands it. The idea behind letting your educational mentors pen your LOR is their outlook on all that you have accomplished academically and personally. 

Your mentors can offer an insightful journey instead of just highlighting the milestones, which is a key aspect of writing a letter of recommendation. And, depending on the university/college, they may ask for multiple LORs to ensure a fruitful admission procedure.  

So, ensure you have multiple reliable sources from whom to get your LOR drafted and edited. Also, it is in your best interest if you can include a note as to why you’ve chosen the particular person to write your letter of recommendation.

Format of Letter of Recommendation

As a reference letter, the format for LOR is going to be like a formal letter. There are the usual 3 sections,

  • An introductory paragraph
  • The body
  • A firm conclusion with a quick summary

You can have a minimum of 5 paragraphs in your LOR with detailed content sans any fluff. For a better understanding, here is how you can begin drafting the format of the letter of recommendation.

  • Start off by mentioning the address and date.
  • Begin the introductory paragraph with a brief explanation of the one who is writing the letter and their relationship with the concerned student.
  • The next paragraph should give an idea of the work accomplished by the student as well as address the quality of results. 
  • The next paragraph can detail the student’s characteristics and how they define in a practical manner. 
  • In conclusion, you can include a quick summary outlining why the concerned individual feels the student would be a good fit for the applied educational program. Something like a final recommendation through impactful words.
  • End the LOR with a hearty thanks and show genuine concern about waiting for a positive reply.
  • Sign off with the mentors’ signature and date.

What content goes into creating an impressive LOR?

The LOR format specified above gives you a basic idea of what goes into writing a letter of recommendation. In addition to being well-crafted, unique, and well-defined, here are some more content hacks that make up a good letter of recommendation.

  • During admissions, there are hundreds of LORs to read and filter through, many of which are highly regarded. Your letter of recommendation should be well-defined when communicating your characteristics to help you stand out as a memorable candidate.
  • There is a considerable difference in simply mentioning key attributes in a well-structured manner and endorsing those same attributes from a personal view. The targeted officials should sense from the first word how excited and enthusiastic the writer is in encouraging the student on the applied educational path.
  • When outlining your practical experience and skills, the recommender should build genuine hype through observations and explain your traits through stories or examples that have contributed in making you who you are today.
  • Equal emphasis should be given to academic and personal potential. Universities/Colleges usually ask for reasons how you as a student can contribute to their growth and benefit from a mutual student-college relationship. Even though it might be challenging to gauge a person through words, admission applications place considerable importance in understanding the big picture of incoming students and their potential contributions.
  • A well-defined LOR speaks in your favor, showing the concerned officials that the recommender cares enough to write an impactful letter of recommendation while offering unconditional support.
  • It would be good to remember that the admissions officials have to read thousands of applications and your LOR needs to stand out from among those thousands. Ensure your letter of recommendation is unique with a caring and supporting perspective outlining the necessary details while also incorporating the right tactics to create a memorable reading experience for the already saturated admission officials.

Is there an ideal word limit for a Letter of Recommendation?

If a University/College specifies the word limit for letter of recommendation, you can follow the instructions accordingly. However, when not specified, let the word count be ideally between 500-600 words. It would be even better if your recommender can fit all the content on a single side of an A4 sized sheet.

What are the types of LOR for students going abroad?

A student can be of any age pursuing any educational path. Now, depending on what programs you have already finished or are undertaking or what job experience you already have, you can be expected to write either an Academic or Professional LOR.

Academic LOR

An academic letter of recommendation is what we’re discussing in detail in this article. Namely, it is an honest recommendation of the student to the concerned university/college officials providing an intimate view of your skills and abilities, academic-wise and on the personal front.

Professional LOR

A professional letter of recommendation focuses more on your professional/corporate experience gained during simultaneous study. As with an academic LOR, your mentor or supervisor or manager serves as the prime source of reference, offering a frank opinion on your excellence and experience in the particular profession. Your leadership qualities, professional etiquette, team work, and other talents are also a part of what makes an ideal professional LOR. 

Mistakes to avoid when writing a LOR for study abroad

Crafting a letter of recommendation for study abroad consists of multiple considerations to keep in mind. There are always mistakes made and corrected, but with a LOR you can’t afford such leniency.

Here are some common blunders, whether intentional or not, that you should steer away from when drafting your individualized letter of recommendation.

1. Indulging In Dishonest Tactics

Students take to dishonest means of crafting their LOR only when they’re desperate to make it a perfect document. While it can be tempting to copy an ideal LOR off the net and paraphrase it to make it seem original, it doesn’t work that way. 

Universities/Colleges have sophisticated software that detects even the most paraphrased content to prove the plagiarism aspect. Besides which, experienced admission officials go through thousands of LORs to understand which sounds genuine and which is a net-based draft.

2. Choosing An Unsuitable Recommender 

As a student, you know better which mentors/professors can provide an honest and effective perspective of you and your achievements. Don’t pick your favorite professor or someone who is biased towards you. 

The ideal recommender is one who has interacted closely with you for academic projects or research and has a good idea of your professional conduct and academic capacity.

3. Asking For Last Minute Favors

Never keep the drafting of your LOR as a last-minute task. Keep in mind that your recommender might be a busy person with a tight schedule and requires more than enough time to sit and work on your request.

3-4 weeks in advance is a good time limit to stick by. You also need to be in constant touch with the recommender to remind them to tend to your request. Their busy schedules make it possible to side-step your LOR drafting and forget about it. Make sure to avoid this by regularly checking-up and asking for your request completion. 

4. Skimping On Crucial Guidelines

If your LOR ends up lacking relevant information and only outdated accomplishments, the fault rests on your shoulders. It’s your responsibility to feed the right and recent information on your academic or professional accomplishments so your recommender can keep it in mind when taking time from their busy schedule to include it in the letter of recommendation.

5. Leaning On Over-exaggeration

Sure, you have multiple achievements that you would love to be highlighted in your letter of recommendation. However, be aware of going overboard with exaggerating only your plus points. Ask your recommender to focus equally on your weaknesses and strengths while speaking frankly of your attributes.

Everyone has areas of improvement and it’s no matter of shame to let it be known to your potential university/college officials. In fact, most admission officials appreciate the constructive criticism and feel such applicants are genuinely interested and vested in the path they’ve chosen to pursue.


Surefire tips to consider when curating content for a LOR

The importance of getting your letter of recommendation right can’t be emphasized enough. This piece of document is more than just a decorated tally of your achievements. It is a databank that showcases a student’s professional attributes, practical knowledge, technical abilities, understanding skills, and so much more.

Although you’re not the one in charge of your destiny when drafting the letter of recommendation, there’s a few things you can keep up with to ensure the final result is impressive and impactful.

1. Keep abreast on the applied university/college guidelines

International educational institutions and their admission guidelines differ in terms of application submission and the following procedures. There could be specific structures to follow even in the content of a letter of recommendation. For example, most educational institutions in the US ask for separate submission of the LOR, by the recommender, while in Ireland the LOR should be submitted along with the application form.

2. Make the best possible choice of recommender

While your first choice in selecting a recommender should be your recent project-based mentor or professor, it would be better to have someone with more authority and a higher designation. Ensure they are writing the LOR willingly with enthusiasm to add more weightage to each attribute mentioned.

3. Have an impactful introduction

No matter which university guidelines you follow, when it comes to writing an introduction by the recommender, the primary intent is to establish and state the relationship between the recommender and the applicant. The first few lines should explain in brief the professional authority, experience, and support criteria of the recommender. 

4. Keep it to the point

A letter of recommendation is a single page document with each word carrying enough weightage to affect your destiny. Make sure you don’t go putting fluff and exaggerated comments in your LOR. Keep the content short and straightforward to have maximum impact. Don’t get your letter of recommendation mixed with the concept of a resume.

5. Highlight more than just the milestones

It is necessary to put in all relevant milestones you’ve achieved over the years that reflect your strengths and skill development. However, it is equally important to carry forward that impression with relevant examples demonstrating those traits. Also, don’t shy away from putting forward the recommender’s views on areas of improvement and what measures you’re adopting for the same.

Sample Letter Of Recommendation

If you’re still having doubts over the feel of a LOR, here is a quick letter of recommendation study abroad example to help push you forward.

The following LOR is for further studies in MS in Business Analytics

Date: 8 May 2022

To Whomsoever It May Concern (OR)

(The Admissions Committee

Specific Department

University Name)

Respected Sir/Madam,

It is my absolute pleasure to be able to write this letter of recommendation for Mr. Raghav Shukla who has applied for MS in Business Analytics at your institution. As his mentor in the Information Sciences & Data Analytics department, I have known Raghav for the past two years and found him to be a diligent and passionate student dedicated in achieving professional capacity and authority in the field.

Raghav has had a deep impact on me from our first interaction, always inquisitive of the working concepts and questioning in detail to gain better understanding. He has a knack for not being too intrusive or distracting when tending to a particular task, instead creating an atmosphere conducive to mutual learning and teaching.

As his supervisor in multiple classes and workshops, I have witnessed firsthand his energy and methodology to work things out despite unfavorable situations. His accuracy and patience in collecting data and organizing it to achieve results in a short time frame is commendable. 

While Raghav is academically proficient, his character can sometimes come across as introverted. Although he has participated in state level and national level events, he prefers solitude over mingling to a certain degree. I have noticed that being able to creatively and non-verbally solve issues is his forte even if his disposition may seem detached.

Being a self-motivated student. I believe Raghav has the ability to create innovations in the Data mining field and his calculated hunger to gain competent experience will help him climb the ladder to success. I strongly recommend him for further studies in MS in Business Analytics in your institution. It would be my pleasure to help with any further queries in facilitating his admission. 


Recommender’s Name


Contact Details 

Final Thoughts

A letter of recommendation, as you now know, is more than just a declaration of your achievements and attributes. It is also a two-way statement where you assess the ways in which your admission would benefit the institution while you benefit from the education.A well-defined and honest recommendation goes a long way in striking the right chord with admission officials and helping it get accepted. For more such guidance with everything regarding recommendation letters and other study abroad queries, University HUB serves as your one-stop comprehensive solution. Find informative articles, statistically supported data, and more educational material on the official portal to make your study abroad journey easier.


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