How to write an SOP (Statement of Purpose)

A statement of purpose (SOP) is a reflection of the applicant's academic achievements as well as vision and goals for the future. An SOP can make or break your admission to the international university of your choice. Take a look at tips on how to write an SOP.

Writing an SOP - Statement of Purpose - is an important part of applying for international study programs. Most International universities ask students for an SOP, clearly explaining why the student wants to take that particular course and what they intend to do on completion.

Along with a good academic score, a crisp and clearly written SOP can help to persuade the Admissions Officer that you should be granted admission.

Getting started with writing your SOP

The institution that you have applied to is likely to specify a word count. Typically, SOPs are between 3000-4000 words, and the word limit should not be exceeded. You should describe in it your reasons for choosing that university and course, along with explaining your academic credentials, providing a clear picture of your goals and aspirations after completing the course.

The following tips will come in useful as a style guide when writing your SOP:
  • Use language that is simple and easy to read. Always use spell-check, read and edit your SOP before sending.
  • More words than asked is not good on an SOP; make sure not to go over the word limit.
  • Use a clean, standard and professional font and size that is readable. Avoid highly stylized fonts that are hard to decipher.
  • Don't make vague claims, but instead give clear illustrations of professional competence and academic brilliance.

Other Dos and Don'ts in your SOP

Don't try to impress with vocabulary

The purpose of your SOP is not to impress the Admissions Team with your vocabulary. Your SOP should be in clear, direct language and serve as a roadmap of your academic growth and professional growth, and express your passion for your choice of coursework, and your vision for the future. Of course, being an articulate writer is good on an SOP, but flowery language should not be your choice of expression.

Do use personal elements to stand out

Remember that your SOP is going to be competing against thousands of other applicants. It is going to be read by a professor who has probably been reading several other SOPs already. You have to make yours stand out. Generalizations and obvious statements don't stand out. Instead, make efforts to ensure your SOP is a personal essay, not a general one. Writing your essay should be a process of self-discovery, and if you are being yourself as you write, the professor reading it will be able to see that and appreciate it.

Do stay in focus

The gist of your SOP should be your dreams for the future, and how your course and university choice are going to play a part in that. Keep your focus on this subject, and reflect your vision in your essay.

Things to include

If, you have tried writing an SOP, and found yourself at a loss on what to include and what to leave out take note of the following points -

Write about difficulties

As long as it is relevant, write about hardships or hurdles that you had to face in order to become who you are today. This will give professors a promising, hard-working image of you as a student.

Play up your strengths

Your SOP is not a dry list of your academic achievements, but you should play up your strengths by giving examples from your life where they applied.

Describe what the course means for you

Your essay should give the impression that you are genuinely interested in the course and have a vision for your future, after having completed the course. It should not look like you are taking on the course for the sake of it.

Being a bookworm is not enough

Your professors are not looking for people who like to be buried in their books. They are looking for people who are learners. Show that you are not just a bookworm but an eager learner, and be sure to portray yourself in the best light for the Admissions Team.

Describe your projects

Talk about the projects that you have been a part of, and show that you take a serious interest on the subject. If you have a bent of mind geared for research, it is a bonus when applying for graduate programs.

To sum it all up

To, get started with your SOP follow a basic outline. Start with your thesis statement introducing your essay's core concept. This will be followed by the essay body, including your goals, background and reasons for the course choice. When ending your essay, state the thesis again and the points that support it. However, don't be too repetitive, and even include some new information at the end to leave readers with a thought. Good luck with writing your SOP!

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer publishing with Constant Content and sister sites of Techulator. She writes on a variety of subjects that interest her. She is a voracious reader and that helps her keep abreast with the latest in technology. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Eng. Lit, is a mom, a wife, a homemaker and a qualified teacher.

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Guest Author: Tripti Makkar14 Jul 2015

Drafting and finalizing statement of purpose(SOP) has always been a challenging task for students. Though a lot of resources are available on net and even SOP drafting services are also offered but SOP should be written by the students themselves. The article is likely to be informative and useful.

Guest Author: Akhil14 Jul 2015

The statement of purpose can be that final deciding factor that gets a student into a cherished university. It should be an honest write-up, written by the student. Though a number of tools and facilities are available to help applicants with the SOP, it is best that it is self written. Universities can tell a self-drafted SOP from a piece written by someone else, because the latter use the same/similar phrases and thoughts to describe things. The tips provided by me give a detailed outline on how a statement of purpose should be drafted. Prospective students should use those as a guide for preparing their own SOP.

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