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Letter of Recommendation (LOR) Writing Tips and Format Examples

How to write a good recommendation letter for university or scholarship abroad

A letter of recommendation (LOR) –also called letter of reference - is one of the documents required when applying for universities or scholarships overseas.

As a student or scholarship applicant, you will need to ask your teacher, mentor, supervisor or manager to write a recommendation letter for you. This letter helps the university admission committee to know and understand more about you. It is a great tool that showcases your skills and abilities as recognised by your referee.

Who should you ask for a recommendation letter?

Generally speaking, your professors, tutors and people who have worked with closely are a very good choice of the referee because they can offer detailed insight into you, your skills and your work. It would be great if the referee can demonstrate a certain level of understanding or professionalism of the subject to which you are applying.

If you’ve been working in an industry which is closely related to the university program that you want to apply for, you can also have the reference letter written by your managers or employer. It is advisable to include a note explaining your choice of referee and why you chose them to write your reference letter.

What should be written in a letter of recommendation?

A good recommendation letter or letter of reference should always include these 4 main components:

  • A paragraph that explains the relationship with the student/applicant.
  • The referee’s assessment of the student/ applicant’s interests, skills and ability to study at the university
  • Examples of the student/applicant’s achievements whether in school, or outside school (like voluntary activities, for example)
  • A summary that includes the reasons for recommending the student/applicant to the university or scholarship, or why the referee thinks that the university should accept the student/applicant there.

6 tips to write the perfect letter of recommendation:

  1. Be very wise when choosing someone to write you a recommendation letter. The best recommendation letter comes from someone who agrees freely and is not forced to write. A recommendation should come from someone who has the authority and designation, which would add weightage to the letter. Remember, a vague, messed up and hastily written letter is worse than writing nothing.
  2. Tell your referee why you need a recommendation letter from them. It is very important to give your referee a brief about the course or scholarships you’re applying to, before they write the LOR. Also make sure to provide them with the dates for submitting the recommendation letter.
  3. The letter of recommendation (LOR) needs to be short, crisp and to the point to have the best impact. Remember, it is a separate letter and should never be mixed with a Resume. This is the most important reason why applicants may face rejection or refusals.
  4. The recommendation letter should mention the qualities and unique contributions that you would bring to the university – what positive changes, impact and new learning would you be able to contribute towards. Comparison information helps strengthen your LOR if it is provided with examples of true context and has a rationale for the comparison. For instance, a mention about how many among the ‘X’ number students in a class taught by the recommender, you, the applicant, stood out (with examples of initiatives taken by you.)
  5. A recommendation letter should never mention any grades or scores of competitive tests unless required to interpret some academic details. These are already mentioned in your application and repeating them in an LOR is a big No.
  6. Any private or sensitive information on you should be included only if it has any relevance or unless considered absolutely necessary.

As a well-written constructive recommendation letter goes a long way in helping your application get through. If you need any guidance regarding your letter of recommendation, feel free to reach out to our counsellors who are more than willing to help you out.

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