(last updated: 19 March 2021)

The below is adapted from Ravi Vakil's page.

If you want a recommendation letter from me

First, think about whether I am the best person to write for you. You want a letter from someone who knows you well and can say specific things about you, and about your skills in areas relevant to your program. e.g. it's better to ask a professor who knows you, even if you got a B+ in their class, rather than ask me just because you got an A in my class. You should ask your advisor / FYP supervisor / other mentor for advice on choosing recommenders.

Business majors wanting letters about their quantitative skills: if you are taking / have taken at least 3 Math 3xxx classes, then you should first ask the teachers of those classes.

It is my policy not to comment on academic performance for classes where you did not take exams on campus.

Please do not draft anything for me. To protect my reputation, I write all recommendations entirely myself.

If you think you may want a letter from me after graduation, please let me know before you graduate, because I don't keep information on graduated students.

To help me decide whether to write for you, I need: My reply will be one of the following: "yes", "no", "I can write if you really can't find someone better to write for you, but it's not going to be a very strong letter because..."

If I decide to write for you, then please send me, at least two weeks before your first deadline: Allow me to submit my reference online as far as possible. If you are applying to multiple schools, please send the reference invitations in groups.

You are not allowed to see my recommendation for you. If your program requires you to submit your own recommendation as part of your application, then please give me the contact of their administrative staff and I will arrange to submit the reference myself.