The Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR)

Streamlining the LOR Process

One of the biggest pain points for applicants in the MBA application process has been asking managers to fill out multiple recommendations, which deters the applicants from applying to more schools. For recommenders, completing multiple letters of recommendation can also be a stressful experience. Not being able to spend enough time on each letter leads to less thoughtful and insightful recommendations. To address these challenges, GMAC has been working with a group of leading business schools to help reduce the burden of asking for — and submitting — letters of recommendation. The goal is to make life easier for MBA applicants and recommenders, as well as provide better insights for schools.

As part of our commitment to support and serve schools, GMAC convened a group of leading business schools who wanted to streamline the process of asking for and submitting letters of recommendation. The Common LOR form has been available for schools to use in their existing application CRM systems since May 2016. To enhance the experience, we continuously collect feedback and suggestions for improvement from current school users and recommenders. One key insight is that the common form can feel a bit long, so we have collaborated with the advisory group, current school users, and behavioral experts to make the form shorter.

The Common LOR represents the collective thinking of over 20 member schools. The initiative is led by the Application Process Advisory Group with GMAC acting as convener, facilitator, and providing implementation support. The common form mirrors the most informative questions drawn from current school letters, along with insights and improvements from leading practitioners in behavioral science and management/executive evaluation.

Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is a recommendation form developed with the goal of saving recommenders and alumni valuable time by providing a single, common set of questions. The questions remain embedded in each participating school’s existing application system, so few significant changes are required.

Some key benefits of the Common LOR:

  • Provides deeper insights into the candidacy of applicants by capturing the best practices from leading programs and leveraging the latest science in executive evaluation
  • Offers potential for expanding prospective student pipeline and having more applications in the future by making it easier for applicants to ask for multiple LORs
  • Frees up valuable time for recommenders and allow them to dedicate focus and energy to craft a more robust and insightful letter

While GMAC is supporting this initiative, it is the business schools who are leading the effort, with GMAC helping to convene, gather information from industry experts, and solicit input from candidates from around the globe.

Click here to listen to an overview of the Common LOR.

Fill out the form below to download the Common Letter of Recommendation Template:

Who's Using LOR?

Schools Using the Common LOR Form for the 2017/2018 Application Cycle

Schools using the common letter of recommendation

(If your school uses the Common LOR form but the logo is not listed above, please click here to contact us.)

How to Participate

Schools are welcome to try the new form for the 2017/2018 admissions cycle. The Common LOR is available to use free of charge by any program around the globe. Participating programs can customize the Common LOR to accommodate any unique questions required by the programs. 

The Common LOR is available to use free of charge by any program around the globe. Participating programs can customize the Common LOR to accommodate any unique questions required by the programs.

Terms of Use (PDF)

If you would like to learn more and are interested in participating, please complete the form below:

Common LOR Sections

Section 1: Personal Information About the Recommender

Section 2: Leadership Assessment Grid

The grid is comprised of 16 competencies and character traits that contribute to successful leadership. The competencies and character traits are grouped into five categories:

  • Achievement 
  • Influence 
  • People 
  • Personal Qualities 
  • Cognitive Abilities

Section 3: Recommendation Questions (Open-ended Questions for Recommenders)

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization.
  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.
  4. Is there anything else we should know? (Optional)

The form is also available for reading purposes in the following languages: