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I'm applying to CaRMS this year and am worried about my reference letters. I am confident that I have one strong letter, the others I'm not too sure about. This is because I had a bunch of electives at the beginning of clerkship (3 yr school) and I definitely wasn't as strong as I am now. I have a few more electives pre-CaRMS deadline but because of capacity issues I don't even know if they'll be in my specialty of interest. I may end up having to use a letter from early on that I'm not sure will be that great. For the one letter I'm confident about, it's because the preceptor wrote me a great evaluation (ex. that my knowledge is at the level of an R1, my management plans are far above level of training, personal qualities, etc... Idk how I tricked them into thinking this lol). Do ALL of your letters have to be this good? Has anyone had success with using a letter from early clerkship? Any advice for what I should do in this situation?

Also, I think I could probably get a really strong letter from another preceptor on that same rotation, but I'm not sure if I should use 2 letters from the same rotation. Is that redundant? 

also does ANYONE know how many letters we need this year lol

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You can check program descriptions for how many letters each ask for, its generally 3. You can ask for multiple letters from the same rotation. If you havent already asked, you can ask like "Would you be able to write me a strong letter of reccomendation?" and if they could only write you a mediocre one based on the circumstances, if their nice they might say oh, "I can write you a letter but I will only be able to talk about what I saw at the time" which you should take as implying that it won't be a strong letter. If they say "of course i will" then you can get the implication that it might be stronger. Obviously strong letters are better, and its one of the more important things on a CaRMS app.

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6 hours ago, bearded frog said:

You can check program descriptions for how many letters each ask for, its generally 3. You can ask for multiple letters from the same rotation. If you havent already asked, you can ask like "Would you be able to write me a strong letter of reccomendation?" and if they could only write you a mediocre one based on the circumstances, if their nice they might say oh, "I can write you a letter but I will only be able to talk about what I saw at the time" which you should take as implying that it won't be a strong letter. If they say "of course i will" then you can get the implication that it might be stronger. Obviously strong letters are better, and its one of the more important things on a CaRMS app.

Thank you for your reply!

Unfortunately because of COVID this year there might be changes to the # of letters we need but we don't know for sure yet (as far as I know).  Program descriptions aren't up yet either for this year and I'm not sure how much they'll change from last year, if at all.

I'm thinking of asking for another letter from the same rotation so I'll have 2 from there, but some people have said it's not as good as having letters from 2 different experiences. But then I've also heard that the content matters more than who/where the letter came from. I'm not sure if it's better to have 2 letters, or to just ask the person writing the letter I already asked for if they can combine all my preceptors' feedback into their letter so it's extra strong.

Do you have any thoughts on this?

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