Statement of Purpose - SOP - Writing Tips | AdmitKard
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Statement of Purpose - SOP - Writing Tips

RARachit Agrawal
Updated OnSep 22, 2020
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Statement of Purpose Writing Tips

A statement of purpose is an essay that is required in an admission application by various universities, colleges, and other places. An SOP is an important part of the application because it helps the admission committee know the applicant, his academic goals, and determine if the applicant is suitable for the program. 

The SOP is one of the most important documents in an application because: 

  • It gives the committee insight into the applicant’s academic background and interests. 
  • It allows the applicant to demonstrate how they are different from the other applicants. 
  • It helps the committee establish if the applicant is suitable for the program. 
  • It shows the applicant’s communication style and ability. 

The SOP should not be very long. It should be around 800-1000 words. The SOP should also address the applicant’s blemishes, weaknesses in his/ her academic records. The SOP should be brief and honest. To make it an effective SOP, the applicant should turn the negatives into positives by pay attention to how he/ she overcame hurdles and showed resilience. The applicant should also mention what he/ she learned from their past experiences and how these experiences have led them to become a better person. 

10 Tips for writing an SOP

  • Attractive Introduction- It must have an attractive introduction, it can be an anecdote or something interesting you observed in your life to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Be specific – While writing for an SOP, be specific of the course, university, and country.
  • Unique and Attractive - An SOP should be unique from other candidates, don't mistake it with a resume. 
  • List of the items to mention - Before starting the official copy of your SOP; make a list of things you’re planning to mention. Try and think of the smallest of achievements of your school life to make your SOP look better.  
  • List short term and long term goals - In the list, you can also write about your short – term goals, long term goals and things which you specifically want to pursue from that college and course.
  • Keep the theme of your SOP as a life story - Students often tend to find a theme in their SOP, at this level it is better you don’t and just go with the story of your life. In the SOP you can write about what you’ve learned so far and how you came to pick up this course and what are your future goals. 
  • Convey a Clear message - The reader should get to know after reading the SOP of what you want to convey, it must be straight – forward and interesting at the same time.
  • Create a positive impact - Try to put some interesting things you want to learn from the university and course, it creates a positive impact.
  • Re-Edit your rough draft - After completing your first draft, re-edit it and make it as perfect as much you can, it is advisable not to submit your first draft. It is important to discuss the first draft with your friends and family as they may give critical insight to your SOP. 
  • Keep your language simple- don’t overuse difficult words in your sentences.

What are the tips for writing an SOP for graduate school?

While writing a Statement of Purpose for a graduate school, the applicant should focus on his/ her specific plans and how the plans will get fulfilled. The admission committee examines every statement of purpose very closely to determine if the applicant is a suitable fit for the program. To write an effective SOP for a graduate school, one should follow the below-mentioned steps. 

  • Identify the questions of the graduate schools:

Graduate Schools have different questions. However, they ask the following questions in general: 

  • What do you want to study? 
  • Why do you want to study that?
  • What experience do you have in the field? 
  • What plans do you have with your degree once you have it?

The SOP should mention the applicant’s interest in the field, the background to support the ideas, and the reason that sets the applicant apart from other candidates. 

  • Mention only relevant details
  • Make sure the SOP is unique
  • Ask for a pointer

What are a few tips for writing a Statement of Purpose?

A statement of purpose should be brief and concise. It should ideally be of 800-1000 words. The following tips should be followed to write an effective SOP.

  • Make the Introduction attractive: An attractive opening often becomes an eye-catcher to the admission committee. Try to open the SOP with a sketch or a noteworthy statement. 
  • Keep it concise and honest: While writing the SOP, the applicant must make it concise, unique, attractive, and honest. 
  • List of the items to be mentioned: Before sending an official SOP, a rough draft should be made where one should mention all the items that should be listed in the SOP. One should mention the following things in the SOP: 
  • Goals
  • Smallest of the achievements 
  • Personal financial background 
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Weaknesses 
  • Work Experiences, if any. 
  • Reasons to join 
  • Interests and skills 
  • Reason to why the applicant should be chosen over the other candidates 
    • List all Goals: In the SOP, one should mention all the short term as well as the long-run goals they have.
    • The message to be conveyed should be clear and interesting
    • A positive impact should be created through the SOP: The SOP should mention a few points that the applicant wants to learn from the course. 
    • Keep the language simple: An easy and simple language should be used in the SOP. One should not use a set of words again and again. 
    • Perfect the SOP: Before sending an official SOP, the SOP should be read, edited, and made as perfect as possible. 

What are the common mistakes one should avoid while writing the SOP?

There are a lot of mistakes one is bound to make while writing the SOP. The SOP should be a formal and concise essay. However, the following are a few common mistakes one should avoid: 

  • Usage of quotes at the beginning of the SOP. 
  • A resume like SOP 
  • A long and difficult-to-read SOP 
  • Grammatical errors
  • Usage of short forms and informal language
  • Beating around the bush
  • Less attention to career goals 
  • Plagiarism 
  • Dishonesty in the SOP 
  • Usage of jargons 
  • Not understanding the value of word limit 
  • Not conducting the proper research before applying 

What are the most important guidelines one should follow while writing the SOP?

The most important guidelines one should follow while writing the SOP are: 

  • Make the Introduction attractive: An attractive opening often becomes an eye-catcher to the admission committee. Try to open the SOP with a sketch or a noteworthy statement. 
  • Keep it concise and honest: While writing the SOP, the applicant must make it concise, unique, attractive, and honest. 
  • List of the items to be mentioned: Before sending an official SOP, a rough draft should be made where one should mention all the items that should be listed in the SOP. One should mention the following things in the SOP: 
  • Goals
  • Smallest of the achievements 
  • Personal financial background 
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Weaknesses 
  • Work Experiences, if any. 
  • Reasons to join 
  • Interests and skills 
  • Reason to why the applicant should be chosen over the other candidates 
  • List all Goals: In the SOP, one should mention all the short term as well as the long-run goals they have.
  • The message to be conveyed should be clear and interesting
  • A positive impact should be created through the SOP: The SOP should mention a few points that the applicant wants to learn from the course. 
  • Keep the language simple: An easy and simple language should be used in the SOP. One should not use a set of words again and again. 
  • Perfect the SOP: Before sending an official SOP, the SOP should be read, edited, and made as perfect as possible. 

What is the recipe for a winning SOP?

A statement of purpose should be brief and concise. It should ideally be of 800-1000 words. To write an effective SOP, the following tips should be followed: 

  • Make the Introduction attractive: An attractive opening often becomes an eye-catcher to the admission committee. Try to open the SOP with a sketch or a noteworthy statement. 
  • Keep it concise and honest: While writing the SOP, the applicant must make it concise, unique, attractive, and honest. 
  • List of the items to be mentioned: Before sending an official SOP, a rough draft should be made where one should mention all the items that should be listed in the SOP. One should mention the following things in the SOP: 
  • Goals
  • Smallest of the achievements 
  • Personal financial background 
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Weaknesses 
  • Work Experiences, if any. 
  • Reasons to join 
  • Interests and skills 
  • Reason to why the applicant should be chosen over the other candidates 
  • List all Goals: In the SOP, one should mention all the short term as well as the long-run goals they have.
  • The message to be conveyed should be clear and interesting
  • A positive impact should be created through the SOP: The SOP should mention a few points that the applicant wants to learn from the course. 
  • Keep the language simple: An easy and simple language should be used in the SOP. One should not use a set of words again and again. 
  • Perfect the SOP: Before sending an official SOP, the SOP should be read, edited, and made as perfect as possible. 

However, while writing an SOP, the applicant is bound to make mistakes. The following mistakes should be avoided: 

  • Usage of quotes at the beginning of the SOP. 
  • A resume like SOP 
  • A long and difficult-to-read SOP 
  • Grammatical errors
  • Usage of short forms and informal language
  • Beating around the bush
  • Less attention to career goals 
  • Plagiarism 
  • Dishonesty in the SOP 
  • Usage of jargons 
  • Not understanding the value of word limit 
  • Not conducting the proper research before applying 

What are the common parameters by which the SOP is evaluated?

The Statement of Purpose is assessed on a lot of parameters. Different universities have different parameters to evaluate an SOP. However, few common parameters are: 

  • Content: A SOP should not be a CV written in paragraphs. It should rather be storytelling how the candidate is academically or in person. However, the story should be a formal story and not a casual and informal essay. 
  • Flow: The transition between paragraphs, points, and topics should be smooth. A smooth flow will help the reader understand the SOP better. 
  • Language: Language in the SOP should be kept simple and understandable. The candidate should not use a lot of fancy words and should not repeat them again and again. Usage of jargon and difficult words can be boring and off-putting. 
  • Knowledge: The submitted SOP should include the candidate’s academic knowledge, experiences, or even workshops. Universities tend to look for people who have knowledge not only in their subjects but also outside knowledge. 
  • Accuracy: The SOP should be concise, honest, and non-plagiarized. 

FAQs

  1. What should I write in SOP?

To write an effective SOP, the following should be mentioned: 

  • Goals
  • Smallest of the achievements 
  • Personal financial background 
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Work Experiences, if any 
  • Reasons to join 
  • Interests and skills 
  • Reason to why the applicant should be chosen over the other candidates 

The SOP should also address the applicant’s blemishes, weaknesses in his/ her academic records. The SOP should be brief and honest. To make it an effective SOP, the applicant should turn the negatives into positives by pay attention to how he/ she overcame hurdles and showed resilience. The applicant should also mention what he/ she learned from their past experiences, and how these experiences have led them to become better people.

2. What should be avoided in an SOP?

The following should be avoided while writing an SOP: 

  • Usage of quotes at the beginning of the SOP. 
  • A resume like SOP 
  • A long and difficult-to-read SOP 
  • Grammatical errors
  • Usage of short forms and informal language
  • Beating around the bush
  • Less attention to career goals 
  • Plagiarism 
  • Dishonesty in the SOP 
  • Usage of jargons 
  • Not understanding the value of word limit 
  • Not conducting proper research before applying

3. What is SOP full form?

Does SOP stand for Statement of Purpose?

4. How do you write a Statement of Purpose SOP tips?

A statement of purpose should be brief and concise. It should ideally be of 800-1000 words. To write an effective SOP the following tips should be followed: 

  • Make the Introduction attractive: An attractive opening often becomes an eye-catcher to the admission committee. Try to open the SOP with a sketch or a noteworthy statement. 
  • Keep it concise and honest: While writing the SOP, the applicant must make it concise, unique, attractive, and honest. 
  • List of the items to be mentioned: Before sending an official SOP, a rough draft should be made where one should mention all the items that should be listed in the SOP. One should mention the following things in the SOP: 
  • Goals
  • Smallest of the achievements 
  • Personal financial background 
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Weaknesses 
  • Work Experiences, if any 
  • Reasons to join 
  • Interests and skills 
  • Reason to why the applicant should be chosen over the other candidates 
  • List all Goals: In the SOP, one should mention all the short term as well as the long-run goals they have.
  • The message to be conveyed should be clear and interesting
  • A positive impact should be created through the SOP: The SOP should mention a few points that the applicant wants to learn from the course. 
  • Keep the language simple: An easy and simple language should be used in the SOP. One should not use a set of words again and again. 
  • Perfect the SOP: Before sending an official SOP, the SOP should be read, edited, and made as perfect as possible. 

However, while writing an SOP the applicant is bound to make mistakes. The following mistakes should be avoided: 

  • Usage of quotes at the beginning of the SOP. 
  • A resume like SOP 
  • A long and difficult-to-read SOP 
  • Grammatical errors
  • Usage of short forms and informal language
  • Beating around the bush
  • Less attention to career goals 
  • Plagiarism 
  • Dishonesty in the SOP 
  • Usage of jargons 
  • Not understanding the value of word limit 
  • Not conducting a proper research before applying 
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Comments(3)
Ms
Mayank sainiI am 12th passout student with PCM and want to study in abroad in aerospace or earonutical engineering pls suggests me Mayank saini
Ma
Mayank I want to study abroad
AH
Asif HazraPlease help me with the SOP for getting Scholarship from the university for my masters
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About the Author
RA
Rachit Agrawal
Study Abroad Expert & Co-Founder @ AdmitKard
Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.