Is It Possible To Send Too Many Letters Of Recommendation To Med Schools?

Often times when we are applying to med school we want to go above and beyond to stand out. After all, med schools are getting more and more competitive to get into. 

But we have to be careful with this mindset. Because sometimes too much of a good thing is… well bad. 

And this definitely applies to letters of recommendation.

Yes, you can absolutely send too many letters of recommendation to medical schools. Your approach should be quality over quantity. 

It’s a shame that AMCAS has a maximum of 10 slots for letters because that is way too much. Gives students the wrong impression. 

This brings me to my first point… 

How Many Letters Of Recommendation Is Too Many For Medical School?

The number of letters of recommendation that is too many will depend on each school you apply to. The most common range is 3 to 5 letters with some schools allowing up to 6. Sending over the maximum number of letters is considered “too many.” 

I recommend putting together 6 letters and submitting those to your AMCAS application. Then tailor which ones you send to each individual school. Don’t send all 6 to every school you apply to! 

Generally speaking, the max number of letters you send should be the amount the school asks for. If they allow more, only send another one if it’s really important to an extracurricular you did. 

You do not need to send the maximum they allow. More letters do not equal a better chance of acceptance. Quality letters are what matter. 

Where Should The Sources Of Your Letters Come From?

Every med school is going to have its own requirements on the letters of recommendation sources. 

However, here are the most common requirements: 1 or 2 science professors, 1 non-science professor, and 1 from a physician, research, clinical, etc. D.O. schools will almost always require that an extra letter come from a physician and ideally from a D.O. physician.

When you are building your stockpile of letters that you will keep in your AMCAS application, here is what you should include so you can cover any school requirement thrown at you:

  • 2 Letters from science professors
  • 1 letter from a non-science professor/advisor
  • 1 letter from a Physician 
  • 1 letter from a D.O. Physician if you plan on applying to D.O. schools
  • 1 letter from a meaningful extracurricular you did

Do Med Schools Have A Maximum Number Of Letters You Can Submit?

AMCAS lets you submit up to 10 letters. This DOES NOT mean you should submit 10 letters to every med school you apply to. Please don’t do that… ever. 

These 10 letters of recommendation slots are there so you can have a stockpile of letters. Then you can pick and choose which letters should be sent to which schools. 

Every individual school is going to have different requirements but a lot of them have a maximum number of letters you can submit. 5 tends to be a common maximum.  

Does Your Committee Letter Count As 1 Letter Of Recommendation Or Multiple? 

On the AMCAS, the committee letter fills 1 letter of recommendation space. However, you should count the committee letter as multiple letters when submitting it. Med schools are still going to see each letter included with the committee letter and they will consider it as multiple letters.

So, for example, if your committee letter includes 2 professor letters and one letter from a physician, this should count as 3 letters. 

This also means that if your target med school requires different kinds of letters from different sources and your committee letter includes all of those, your committee letter meets all of the requirements. 

You don’t want to submit your committee letter plus extra letters of recommendation and exceed the maximum number of letters you are allowed to send to a specific school. 

What Happens If You Break The Maximum Allowable Letters Of Recommendation Rule For A Med School?

You really want to avoid doing this. Every med school is going to have its own standard operating procedures when it comes to reviewing letters. 

When you submit too many, during your initial review they will most likely pick the letters they want to review. Not ideal because you lose control of which letters are read. 

If you end up in the interview stage, most med schools are required to read ALL the letters you submitted. If you sent 10 letters and they asked you only send 5, that will not look good. 

Imagine if you were the one reviewing letters of recommendation and you had to read 4 different physician letters when you only should be reading one. You might piss someone off, right? 

Hopefully, the rest of your application is stellar because the review committee is going to have to overlook the fact that you didn’t follow directions. 

I’m trying to scare you from sending too many letters. But if you already did, don’t freak out yet. 

Although you can’t undo this mistake through the AMCAS, you can do some damage control. Call the school in question, apologize for not following directions, and then politely ask if they can review the select 5 or so you should have sent. 

Do Medical Schools Read All Your Letters Of Recommendation? 

Across the board, medical schools are going to read all of your letters of recommendation when you submit the correct amount. 

If you submit an excess amount of letters, most schools will ignore the extras and only read the ones that match their requirements.

When you reach the interview stage, some schools have a policy that they must read all of the letters you submitted. Even the excess ones. This is not a good thing though because it will be painfully obvious you didn’t read the rules when applying to their med school. 

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