If i meet you, I may take the opportunity to ask you about your experience as a student at the U of T, for example, just because I am curious about what life is like for our students and I have few opportunities to find out.
^{[*]}
The reason I do this is that, in submitting recommendations, faculty members
are typically asked to check boxes on an online form, indicating whether the
student is in the
top 2%
top 5%
top 10%
top 20%
top 50%
by various criteria, such as research potential, communication skills, etc.
I am told that more or less everyone lies all the time in doing this, so that
if a student is in the top 15% of MAT357 (very good!) and I therefore
click "top 20%" in all the boxes, then the student will be rejected by all grad programs.
So my policy is to allow myself a little dishonesty in clicking these boxes -- what
I judge to be the standard level of dishonesty, so that adjusted for universal
exaggeration, it will give an accurate impression of the student's abilities --
but, because I don't like to lie, I also give honest figures in the letter,
where I can put them in context.