How to write a letter of recommendation properly

How to write a letter of recommendation properly

How to write a letter of recommendation properly.

For admission to  universities in the USA , Great Britain and a number of other countries, students submit letters of recommendation to the university. Often, it is the recommendations that play an important role in enrollment, because they characterize the student and talk about his strengths.

A letter of recommendation for admission to a university is not the most familiar format for Russian students. Therefore, for many applicants, the preparation of recommendations raises a lot of questions.

Invites you to learn all about how to write a letter of recommendation to a university abroad, and see examples of letters of recommendation in English!

What is a letter of recommendation?

A recommendation letter (reference letter) is a letter from a teacher and other person that characterizes a student’s academic potential and his personal qualities.

In most cases, letters of recommendation abroad are included in the general package of entrance documents, along with a diploma, transcripts of grades, a language exam certificate, etc.

Who can write a letter of recommendation?

When a student faces the need to submit recommendations to the university, he must decide who will write the letters of recommendation. This choice should be taken with great care.

The value of a letter of recommendation is two things: first, how well the person making the recommendation knows you as a student and as a person. Secondly, how responsibly he will treat your request. 

Usually universities ask for 2-3 references. First of all, these are the recommendations of teachers. Some universities also require letters from employers, colleagues, or people with whom you have worked together on a project (if any). This is especially true for applicants for MBA programs.

With a request to write a letter of recommendation to a student, it is best to contact teachers who know him well and have taught him for a long time. The recommendation should be distinguished by a personal approach, it should be written by a person who can objectively assess your attitude towards learning, your knowledge and abilities. 

When it comes to school teachers, it is better to choose those who taught you for several years, was the class teacher or the head teacher of the school. In the case of university educators, it is best to ask the supervisor of your coursework or thesis for a recommendation. Remember that the position of a referrer is not as important as the personal approach. In other words, a recommendation from a simple teacher may be more helpful than from a school principal. 

What to write about in a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is, first of all, a characteristic of a student. For admission to a university, this characteristic must be positive, describe the student’s academic success, his strengths and merits, as well as qualities that help in his studies.

However, experts advise against providing recommendations written in general terms that can be said about almost any student. The best impression on the admissions committee will be made by a recommendation written in the original language, telling (in addition to facts and dry numbers) about any cases in the student’s life that characterize him, about the student’s plans for the future, his dreams and goals. 

In addition, it should become clear from the recommendation of the admissions committee – why this particular student deserves training at the chosen university and according to the chosen program.

Example of a letter of recommendation for a university

Abroad, there is no specific form according to which a letter of recommendation should be drawn up. However, there is a general format that students are encouraged to follow.

Below is a sample of a letter of recommendation to a foreign university:

Anna Ivanova

12, Main street, Moscow, Nigeria

Tel .: phone number

Email:  …………enter email

January 1, 202

To ABC University Admissions Committee

123 Town street, Town, USA

Dear ABC University Admissions Committee,

I have known Ekaterina Petrova for the past five years, being her teacher of English language at school №5 in Moscow. I believe Ekaterina would be an excellent student for your university.

Ekaterina is a very diligent and active student. In addition to school English classes she always devoted a lot of time and energy to self-study. This allowed her to achieve great success in English language and develop her skills. I would like to mention Ekaterina’s serious attitude towards studies and her willingness to provide academic support to other students.

In addition, I would also like to note the active social position of Ekaterina. She annually participated in various events and charity campaigns while studying at our school. Therefore, I think she can become a worthy member of your campus community.

If you have any questions regarding qualifications or characteristics of Ekaterina, please feel free to contact me via email (write email or number)


Anna  Ivanova

English  teacher

School №5, Moscow

As you may have noticed, the text of a recommendation letter usually consists of two main thematic parts. One of them is devoted to the academic characteristics of the student, and in the other, it can be said about his personal qualities.

Thus, a foreign educational institution gets the most complete picture of the incoming student.

We invite you to familiarize yourself with four more  samples of letters of recommendation  for admission to the university.

Reference letter for work abroad

Letters of recommendation must be submitted not only when entering a foreign educational institution. Often, when working abroad, letters of recommendation may also be required, especially when it comes to entering the first job after graduation.

In this case, letters of recommendation for the employer can be drawn up:

  • university professors, dean or rector
  • university specialist for work with foreign students
  • scientific advisor
  • the coordinator of the study program or internship
  • an employer with whom the student had an internship or internship
  • coordinator of volunteer projects in which the student participated

It is important that the author of the recommendation letter knows the student well and can give him a full characterization.

In its content, a letter of recommendation for an employer is very similar to a letter of recommendation for a university (see the sample above). The difference is that instead of academic excellence, the recommendation to the employer should focus on the student’s professional and business qualities. That is why it is advisable that the letter of recommendation is written by the internship coordinator or the employer with whom the student took the internship.

In addition, the letter of recommendation should say about the student’s personal qualities, his ability to solve assigned tasks, work in a team, etc.

How is the collection of letters of recommendation organized?

To begin with, you must submit a package of documents to the university, which includes several letters of recommendation. Further, on the university website, you must leave the contact details of those who recommend you, including their phone number and email address. 

Usually, university representatives send a request to the referrer’s email address, which may contain additional questions: “How long have you known the student?”, “In what capacity do you know the student?” student communication skills “, etc. 

However, not all universities organize the collection of recommendations via the Internet. Some of them ask for written recommendations on the letterhead of the university or faculty, containing a signature and a seal. In most cases, universities need to submit letters of recommendation in English. Recommendations written in another language must be translated before submission.

How to write a letter of recommendation?

Members of admissions committees of foreign universities are advised to allow as much time as possible for their referrals to write letters of recommendation.

However, the reality is that not everyone you contact will want to write recommendations on their own. Rather, they will be ready to sign whatever you prepare yourself. Even so, don’t despair! 

Regardless of whether you will write letters yourself or they will be written by referees, follow a few simple rules: 

  • Don’t submit the same letter of recommendation to multiple educational institutions. Each letter must be addressed to a specific educational institution. The recommendation should contain information about why you are suitable for this university and for this curriculum.
  • It is advisable to prepare “tips” for your referees, which will indicate your achievements, your strengths and any other information that you consider important to note. This way, you get exactly the recommendations you expect and make it easier for your referees.
  • Try to establish personal contact with those who will write you recommendations. For example, invite them for tea or coffee, tell us about your plans for the future, why it is important for you to study at a particular university, ask their advice. Once you get to know you better, referees are more likely to want to write good recommendations for you. It will also make it easier for them to write something about your personality traits.

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