TMDSAS letters of recommendation play a critical role in your primary application to medical school. They must be considered well in advance. Put careful care into ensuring you secure strong letters of evaluation since poor or even lukewarm letters could hinder your chance of acceptance.
In this post, we’ll cover TMDSAS letters of recommendation, including what makes TMDSAS letters different, strategies for acquiring the best letters, and how to submit through the TMDSAS Evaluator Portal.
Not sure what application type you need to submit? Read our guide to AMCAS vs. AACOMAS vs. TMDSAS Med School Application Differences to find out how the three application services compare.
What is a Medical School Letter of Recommendation?
Letters of recommendation, also called letters of evaluation, provide a professional, unbiased opinion of your skills, work ethic, and ability to succeed as a medical school student. Strong letters from professors and medical professionals carry weight with admissions committees since they provide an outside look at who you are.
A letter of recommendation is an impartial summary of your abilities, so they have a significant impact on admissions decisions.
Personal statements also play a huge role in your medical application, but they are inherently biased, whereas letters of evaluation are impartially written by respected professionals.
Want to know what admissions committees are looking for from a TMDSAS personal statement? Read our TMDSAS Personal Statement Guide.
The Anatomy of a TMDSAS Application
At the beginning of May, the TMDSAS application opens for submissions. By mid-June, schools begin accepting applications, which means you have more than a month to work on and fine-tune your application.
Plan ahead and do all that you can to submit your application as soon as possible since rolling admissions affect your odds of acceptance the later you submit. Even though the technical deadline for primary applications is later in the year, it is imperative that you submit your applications as close to the opening date as possible.
Follow the timeline below for both possible and ideal schedules.
Letters of recommendation are only one part of your larger primary application. To be a successful applicant, you must work on multiple components in the months leading up to applications opening.
- GPA and MCAT Score
- Personal Statement
- Letters of Evaluation (also called Letters of Recommendation)
- Experiences and Achievements Section
- Mini Essays
- Depending on the schools you apply to, you may also be required to take a Casper test.
Read our complete TMDSAS Application Guide for more information about the other application components.
What Makes TMDSAS Letters Different?
TMDSAS letters of evaluation serve the same purpose as AMCAS letters. The main difference is you are only required to submit three individual letters or one Health Professions Committee Letter/Packet, with the option to submit one additional letter.
TMDSAS Letters of Recommendation
- 3-4 total letters
- One Health Professions Committee Packet or three individual letters of evaluation
- (Optional) One additional letter
Ensure you have a variety of letter types, including 1-2 letters from science professors, 1 letter from a non-science professor, and 1-2 letters from extracurriculars—but don’t sacrifice the quality of your letters for the sake of checking off all of the boxes.
TMDSAS says your evaluators should know you well enough to evaluate you academically and personally. They also recommend you have at least one evaluation from a current/former professor who can speak to your academic science abilities.
Plan ahead to ensure you are able to secure at least one strong letter of recommendation from a science professor.
TMDSAS Letters of Recommendation Strategies
1 | Spend Time Building Quality Relationships
Strong relationships won’t just appear. You need to put time and effort into building relationships in the years leading up to your medical school application. Begin this process as soon as possible because if you wait until application season begins, you won’t have time to build the connections you need for strong letters of recommendation.
Approach relationships with mentors, professors, and employers with the idea that they could one day be your recommendation writers. Begin cultivating relationships as soon as possible and maintain contact as much as you can. At the same time, be authentic and professional and don’t pester the other party.
Remember, it’s a two-way street, so think of ways you are able to give back to them, whether it’s volunteer work or simply asking engaging questions during office hours.
Keep a calendar to remember to keep in touch with your connections. This will also help ensure you don’t become a bother by contacting them too often. Always express gratitude for their time and be courteous—these are busy people in high demand.
Use office hours to your advantage. You need letters of recommendation from professors, and the best way to build these relationships is through office hour participation. And don’t just sit there hoping for the best. Come prepared with relevant, interesting, and engaging questions. Make time to schedule virtual meetings if you cannot meet in person.
2 | Choose Your Letter Writers Wisely
Choosing your letter writer carefully is important, no matter what type of application you’re submitting, but keep in mind you are only allowed three individual letters (or a committee packet), plus one additional optional letter. You need to make these letters count, and you must ensure you have at least one strong letter from a professor who can speak highly of your abilities in science.
If you can show variety across science, non-science, and extracurriculars, that’s ideal, but don’t sacrifice quality for variety. The letter writer must know you well and be able to speak of your unique abilities and qualities in detail.
Additionally, pay close attention to how people react when you ask them for a letter of recommendation. Hesitation is not a good sign, and never push for a yes if you’ve already received a no. Lack of interest from someone could indicate they will not be able to speak highly of you or that they simply don’t have the time to write you a quality letter.
3 | Secure Strong Letters of Evaluation
Your letters must be strong.
There’s no getting around this point. Even a generic letter looks bad to admissions committees. Your letter must emphatically and enthusiastically speak to your skills and special qualities, and the more details a letter writer can provide, the better.
Never ask a professor for a letter of recommendation if you received below an A- in their class. There’s a good chance other students who scored higher are also asking this professor for a recommendation, and how can they sing your praises when you’re not even at the top of their class?
Securing a series of strong letters is why it’s so important to begin building and cultivating relationships early on in college. By the time application season rolls around, it will be too late to build these connections, and forcing these connections will only come across as needy, inauthentic, and self-serving.
Learn more about How to Get Strong Medical School Letters of Recommendation.
4 | Give Your Evaluators Everything They Need
Be thorough in your communication with letter writers, and ensure they have everything they need. Let your letter writers know exactly how they will need to submit letters as well as everything that’s required of them.
If you are using the TMDSAS portal, letter writers will receive a request directly from TMDSAS. If you are using Interfolio instead, make sure the letter writer knows this and give them the necessary Interfolio instructions.
The professors and professionals you are asking for evaluations are very busy people, so do all you can to ease the process. Send your evaluators any additional materials they may want to look at, including your updated CV, academic transcript, MCAT score, personal statement (if available), and a clear deadline.
Make sure the deadline you set is well before the date you hope to receive your letters so that letters don’t come in late. Give your letter writers as much time as possible—ideally, two-three months—and set a reminder to check in with them two weeks before the due date.
For more tips, read our advice on How to Ask For Medical School Letters of Recommendation.
How to Submit Letters of Recommendation to TMDSAS
In order to be accepted by TMDSAS, letters must meet the following standards. Letters that do not meet the following qualifications will be rejected.
TMDSAS letters must:
- Be written on official letterhead. (Personal or professional letterhead is accepted.)
- Include the evaluator’s contact information. (Specifically, a phone number and/or email address.)
- Include the evaluator’s signature.
- Include the applicant’s name.
- Be dated. (Admissions committees will take the date of the letter into consideration.)
- Be written in English.
For individual letters, you will have three placeholders within the TMDSAS Evaluator Portal. All three placeholders must be completed at once and saved in order for letter requests to be sent out.
You will need to fill out the following for each placeholder, as stated by the TMDSAS handbook.
Salutation: Indicate the appropriate salutation of your evaluator (e.g., Dr., Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc.)
First Name: Enter the first name of your evaluator.
Last Name: Enter the last name of your evaluator.
Suffix: (if applicable) Indicate the appropriate suffix of your evaluator (e.g., I, II, Jr, Sr, MD, DDS, DVM, etc.)
Relationship to you: Indicate the evaluator’s relationship to you (e.g., Academic Advisor, HP Advisor, Professor, Supervisor, Business Associate, etc.)
Indicate how your evaluator will send your letter to TMDSAS:
- Upload directly to TMDSAS via Evaluator Portal (preferred method)
- Send through Interfolio
- Send through regular mail
Evaluator’s Email: Enter the email address of the evaluator (only if uploading letter directly to
TMDSAS). Contact the evaluator for the correct email address.
Waiver: Indicate whether you will or will not waive your right of access to the letters of evaluation sent on your behalf.
Your evaluators will receive an email with information from TMDSAS directing them to the TMDSAS Evaluator Portal. It’s up to you to contact your letter writers to ensure they received the email.
Once the evaluators submit the letter of evaluation with the instructions provided, a confirmation email will be sent to indicate the letter was successfully uploaded.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) gives you the right to access your letters of evaluation, but you may also choose to waive those rights. If you choose Yes, it means you waive your rights, and you will not be able to see your letters. If you choose No, you may ask your evaluator for a copy of the letter. Programs may consider your evaluations to be less accurate if you do not waive your right and choose to view your letters.
Take every advantage you can when it comes to your application. It’s in your best interest to waive your rights to show admissions committees you feel confident in your letter writers.
How Does the Health Professions Committee Packet Work?
Instead of requesting three individual letters, you may choose a health professions committee packet. TMDSAS is open to a variety of packet types in order to respect the varying interests of schools. Your committee packets can take three different forms.
From the TMDSAS Application Handbook:
- Committee letter with supporting letters attached.
- Committee letter that is composed and uses quotes from various evaluators but may or may not have supporting letters attached.
- Collection of individual evaluation letters which may also include a cover letter from an advising office or school letter service. The advising office or school letter service serves as a central collection service for the applicant but does not make additional assessments of the candidate.
All three types of HP Committee Packets are acceptable to TMDSAS, regardless of the number of evaluations that may be contained within the document.
Automatic emails requesting letters of evaluation are not sent out from TMDSAS for health professions committee packets. It’s up to you to contact your advisor once you’ve completed this section of your application. From there, they will be able to submit the packet one of three ways:
- Upload the packet directly to TMDSAS using the Advisor Portal.
- Electronically deliver the packet via Virtual Evals or Interfolio.
- Use the US postal service to physically mail the packet.
TMDSAS Letters of Recommendation Interfolio
While TMDSAS recommends using the TMDSAS Evaluator Portal, you may choose to use Interfolio instead, which can make it easier to send letters through multiple application portals.
If you are applying through multiple different services, such as AMCAS and TMDSAS or AMCAS, TMDSAS, and AACOMAS, Interfolio simplifies the process by only requesting letters from your evaluators once. Interfolio will then send the letters to the application services of your choosing.
If you choose to go this route, make sure your name is on your letters and your TMDSAS ID is on your Interfolio profile to ensure they are correctly matched to your application.
Learn how to use Interfolio.
Ensure Your TMDSAS Application Stands Out
Med School Insiders will help you curate an ideal selection of strong letters. We offer a range of Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages that will pair you with physicians who will guide you every step of the way.
We are committed to creating a generation of happier, healthier, and more effective future doctors. We can help with the entire application process, from MCAT tutoring to mock interviews to secondary editing to student advising. Our team is made of doctors who have years of experience serving on both admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights into the selection process.