Letter of Recommendation: Everything you need to know

Last updated: Mar 16, 20234 min read
Letter of Recommendation: Everything you need to know

When applying for a place at a university, a letter of recommendation is required to support your application. It should help convince the admissions board that you are a good fit for their university, both on an academic and personal level.

In this article, we’ll take you through the key points of writing a letter of recommendation, with tips on format and some useful sample templates too!

What is a letter of recommendation and who should write it?

A letter of recommendation is a written document that highlights a student applicant’s academic abilities and achievements, as well as their personal traits and ambitions. Its purpose is to support everything a student writes in their own statement of purpose. 

The person that writes the letter of recommendation should be a senior figure who can vouch for the student, such as a teacher, career counsellor, or student advisor.

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How to request a letter of recommendation?

Most senior teachers, student advisors and careers counsellors have written plenty of these letters before and will be more than happy to help. However, don’t take it for granted! Make sure to ask them well in advance, either in person or by email. 

The most important point when asking someone for a letter of recommendation is to make it easy for them! Give them all the information they need on your academic achievements and let them know about any extracurricular activities you take part in which will help your cause. As well as this, let them know your future ambitions, as they will be able to use this to build your case. 

What should a letter of recommendation include?

As well as including reasons why you would recommend the student (academic, skills-based and personal), the letter of recommendation should also include information on who the writer is, and why they’re in a good position to talk about the student. Finally, it should include the writer’s contact information should the admissions team wish to contact them.

Letter of recommendation length and format

The letter of recommendation should be around 300-400 words, so it must be written quite concisely! 

As for the best recommendation format, around 4-5, paragraphs is ideal. Here’s a brief indicator of what you ought to include in each:

  • Paragraph 1 - Introduce who you are, what your relationship to the student is, and why you’re writing.
  • Paragraph 2 & 3 - Talk about the student's achievements, their character and their potential.
  • Paragraph 4 - Briefly summarize why you highly recommend the student
  • Paragraph 5 - Let the reader know how to contact you should they want to discuss the student further, before signing off your letter.

How to Write a Recommendation Letter?

We’ve written a full article on writing a letter of recommendation which you should take a moment to read, but here are some quick pointers:

  • Get the relevant information you need
  • Know who to address it to
  • Talk up the student in a positive light
  • Explain why you are in a good position to talk about them
  • Keep it brief!
  • Offer to talk in more detail if the reader wishes

Letter of recommendation sample

Here’s one we prepared earlier! If you’re in any doubt about writing a letter of recommendation, feel free to use this as a launch pad for your own. By no means is this the world’s greatest letter of recommendation, but it’s pretty good! We’ve just written it so that you can see how to bring all the elements together in a succinct, concise and effective way!

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Dear Mrs Thompson,

My name is Sean Campbell, and I’ve spent the last four years teaching English to Ela at Somerset High School, as well as overseeing his participation in the high school’s Model United Nations program. In all this time, Ela has continually impressed me with his academic ability, work ethic as well as his compassion and care for his fellow students. Because of this, I feel compelled to highly recommend Ela for acceptance in the Law program at The University of Roehampton.

For as long as I’ve known him, Ela has demonstrated a willingness to learn in the classroom as well as to impress, while helping others, on the floor in Model United Nations. He has always impressed me with his work ethic and the example he sets to other students. Even though he shines individually, he is a good leader, and like all good leaders, he shows humility and patience with others. His leadership and example-setting conduct is proven in the way that he was named a school prefect.

I firmly believe that in accepting Ela to study Law at the University of Roehampton, you will be gaining a model student with so much potential to go far in life. His ambition and zest for learning, as well as his kind spirit, will equip him to become not just a great legal professional, but a fantastic addition to the university community.

Should you wish to discuss Ela’s suitability for your university in any further detail, I’d be more than happy to help. You can contact me by phone on 123-456-78910, or by email at

Yours sincerely,

Sean Campbell

English Teacher & MUN Director at Somerset High School

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