A reference is a statement written by a school teacher, mentor or somebody else in authority connected with your education or work experience. It is designed to state your suitability for the position to which you are applying, in this case, medical school. It allows your referee to write something about you that contributes to your gaining a place in medical school. It should fit in with the rest of your application by, for example, mentioning activities that you did not have space to cover within your personal statement or which you wanted to come from an authority figure.
A reference supports your application, conveying the conviction of the educational professionals who know you. A bad reference will have a negative impact unless there are extenuating circumstances. A good reference will not harm your choices. There are several ways in which a reference can make a meaningful impact on your application:
Mostly this choice is made automatically; either your form tutor or teacher will write a reference for you as part of your application process. However, if you are not a typical applicant and have the opportunity to choose your own referees then there are some suggestions below.
Form tutor or headmaster
Most students find out that their ‘school’ will be writing their reference. Try to find out who will be writing your reference. Give them your personal statement and arrange a meeting so that they can get to know you on a deeper level. If there is something important that you would like your referee to know then be organised and proactive; do not leave it too late to tell them about the amazing volunteering that you have done, for example, or the relevance of your application to a certain medical school.
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