Letters of Evaluation

Letters of evaluation, sometimes referred to as letters of recommendation, are a critical component of the dental school application process.  Letters offer admission committee members additional perspectives on an applicant's traits, competencies, and growth as it relates to dental school preparation. 

The AADSAS application allows applicants to indicate four different letter writers or evaluators on the application.  In general, dental schools will look for letters from science professors (that taught an applicant in the areas of biology, chemistry, or physics) and dentists.  It is up to the applicant to check specific letter writer requirements at each of the dental schools they plan to apply to.  The Dental School Explorer or individual dental school websites can be helpful in identifying specific requirements.  

Outside of meeting the letter writer requirements set forth by dental schools, applicants should be asking individuals who know them well.  The letter writer should have a good sense of the applicant's goals, reasons for wanting to become a dentist, and awareness of the courses and experiences the applicant engaged in to prepare for dental school.  Developing a meaningful relationship with a professor, mentor, research PI, employer, and supervisor takes dedication and work from the applicant.  The PMHSC advisors encourage pre-dental students to practice relationship-building skills early on by utilizing office hours, asking questions in class, and exploring additional learning opportunities. 

Letter Storage 

Dental schools prefer that letters of evaluation remain confidential from the applicant.  This means that the letter writer will be responsible for uploading their letter to the application.  This cannot happen until the application is started by the applicant though.  The ADEA website does a great job describing both how to prepare for and request evaluations.  Applicants also find the Evaluations section of the Applicant Help Center useful in understanding the process. 

Tips for Asking for a Letter of Recommendation 

  1. Ask in person whenever possible. 
  2. Be prepared with a CV/resume.  Some letter writers ask for a personal statement too. 
  3. Know what competencies or qualities you'd like for the letter writer to comment on.  Some students like to provide their letter writers with the AAMC Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation 
  4. Be ready to describe what the letter writer will do with their letter once they are ready to turn it in (see information in the Applicant Help Center above). 
  5. Never agree to write the letter for your letter writer.  Instead, offer to create a shortlist of bullet points from your resume and interactions with the letter writer to provide.