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statement of purpose

How to Write an Impressive SOP or Statement of Purpose

A Statement of Purpose (SOP) reflects your personality that you portray in front of the admission committee to enroll in universities abroad.

Your chance of impressing the admission committee by presenting your profile powerfully through an essay describes your personality traits, not your academic documents.

contemplating-businesswoman-sitting-front-laptop-officeWhat is a Statement of Purpose or SOP?

A statement of purpose is an extended essay required by universities abroad during the application process. An SOP is an essay, which states the purpose of applying to a particular course for a specific university.

This essay consists of talk about who you are, who you want to become, and how ready you are to pursue a particular course in an institution. This document seeks to understand the candidate’s life, the chosen career path’s motivations, and goals.

Hence, it would help if you discussed the past incidents that have impacted your career in a specific scope wherein you strive to grow by joining a college.

A well-written SOP is hugely critical to your admission. There are many sides of a candidate’s application that they inspect before finalizing their decision.

While the academic records and backlog certificate are objectives, an SOP is the only genuinely subjective aspect of your application.

What is the General Format of Statement of Purpose?

Most universities have an acceptable standard format. However, the content in this essay varies with different kinds of courses. For example, we have an SOP for MBA Programme, SOP for MIM Programme, SOP for MS Programme, etc.

While there are several formats and samples available online for an SOP that aspirants can use for SOP writing, it isn’t easy to choose the right design. You would also not find the correct formatting details required for a particular draft or the perfect chronology to follow.

In a formal SOP document, you do not need to write your name or course details. It’s a part of your application or student profile; thus, it will have your name and course details by default.

However, some universities or schools might specify whether they require your name and course details in the SOP. These universities will provide you with instructions on how and where to write your details in a document.

There is no fixed format of SOP for a country. However, a particular university may provide you with a guideline based on which you may need to write your SOP.

How Long is a Statement of Purpose?

Statement of Purpose should be 1 or 2 pages long, with 800 to 1000 words. However, the length of this essay may change as per university-specific requirements. Some universities have a fixed size and pattern of SOPs required, set to 500 words only, even 200 words. Most universities accept generic length, which is 800 to 1000 words, which may go beyond 1000, but not exceeding 1200 words.

It is easy to write a story of your life, explaining each incident’s importance in shaping or molding your character. However, when defining your SOP within the communicated word limit by some universities, the challenge is to display your best within limited sentences. So it’s better to mention the significant achievements from every place you have been to, such as college, office, etc.

Some universities do not require SOP; they give you essay Prompts along with a word limit.

What to Include and not include in an SOP?

There are many elements to a statement of purpose. Universities could ask question-based essays or merely a general SOP. Unless categorically asked, an SOP must consist of your objectives and the career path you have taken up so far, and your academic progress. Other things that are important to the SOP are also the personal motivations that lead you to choose the university you have applied to and how you intend to use that experience to achieve that goal.

There is no specific list of what all you can include in your essay. In such a case, it becomes crucial to see what you must not include in your SOP. For instance, should you talk about your childhood or family? What about your everyday life? Every company you have ever worked with? All your extracurricular achievements?


How to Write a Convincing SOP?

Whether applying for an undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate program, the strategy of writing a powerful statement of purpose would be to sound focused. Starting from your academic background to your career aspirations, you have to carefully connect all the dots between reaching your school goals and course choice.

The SOP essay should always go in a flow covering your experience, present involvements, and plans. While writing your essay, an important point would be to divide it into paragraphs covering all the pointers. Here is a general guideline at how you may write your SOP powerfully:


1st Paragraph of SOP: Introduction

This paragraph should not introduce you but should discuss what you are about to discuss in your essay. There are several approaches you may adopt to this paragraph:

  • Discuss your long-term goal and connect it with your idea of pursuing this course;
  • Present your comprehension of the chosen field and write how you want to contribute to it;
  • Explain your background in 2 or 3 lines and connect it with your goals;
  • Write about an anecdote that helped you see your interest in the chosen field.

Students often make the mistake of introducing themselves in the first paragraph. In some cases, applicants forget about the purpose of writing this document.


2nd and 3rd Paragraphs: Academic Background

This part comprises your academic background: what you have done so far, what you are currently doing, your educational projects, industrial exposure you have attained, etc. If you have any professional background, it should be in the upcoming paragraphs.


4th Paragraph of SOP: Why This Course?

Now you should discuss why you want to join a course and what modules you would tap during this course. Your statement of purpose should also cover the skills you would take in this duration and the exposure to help develop the skills desired to realize your goals.


5th Paragraph of SOP: Career Goals

It’s the most crucial paragraph, where you should discuss your short and long-term objectives. Your goal would be where you would want to work after completing this course. It would help if you named some companies within your country and the designation you see yourself working at. It should explain the kind of job you would be working on.

Then comes your long-term aim, wherein you should mention where you see yourself from 10 or 15 years down the line. It may include your desire to work at a high level or establish a firm that you own. It may also have your interest in further studies like a Ph.D.

More in this part may include your desire to become a researcher or professor. You better discuss your business goal, principles, and values or how you would lead the young aspirants of this industry.


6th Paragraph of SOP: Why This University?

It’s the paragraph of purpose wherein you can convince a university how they are appropriate, and you are an exemplary candidate for the university. It would help if you discussed the course curriculum, research work, faculty names, and university-specific activities to enhance your profile.


Closing Paragraph of SOP

This paragraph should conclude your readiness to join this course. It’s the closing paragraph, so you should seem prepared for all the challenges on your way. It should show that you have the enthusiasm for success, and with the help of the chosen course and university, you will make a difference in the industry from a global perspective.

Toy bricks5 Tips to Write an Excellent Statement of Purpose

Your SOP should not only be precise, but it should also highlight the uniqueness in your profile. Here are five tips for writing a better SOP:


  1. Write Error-Free

Your SOP reflects your writing capability, so it should be free from syntax and grammatical errors. Your language should be clear enough for them to understand yet should have a useful vocabulary. Ensuring too many heavy words as too much rich vocabulary makes the sentence redundant and fails to communicate the meaning.


  1. Highlight your Unique Personality

What makes you different from the other applicants? The admission committee should see you as an individual through your SOP. Your goals and interests will help them know you on a personal basis.


  1. Include Your Potential Contributions

With your talent and previous experiences, how can you contribute to the university or department? Think of it as a two-way process. If you receive an admit, your path will get a kick-start, and through your participation and efforts, the department can receive benefits. It would help if you mentioned how you would contribute to their community through sports, community services, societies or clubs, etc.


  1. Show your Familiarity with the university

Being familiar with the university curriculum and facilities will help you a great bargain. You should be aware of the student programs, faculty, internship opportunities, student facilities and societies, traditions, etc., that sets the university apart. It would help if you persuade them that you know about the department and university thoroughly, and thus, you are not applying randomly.


  1. Keep your Statement of Purpose

Your motivation to study a selected course should clear, evident, and justified. Admission Committee disapproves of bragging sentences in the SOP. So keep it real, original, and free from any overbearing or arrogant statements.


Statement of purpose is the only document in your application, which allows you to prove you have something unique comparing others. A well-written SOP is so essential for your admission.

This article covered a statement of purpose format, a guideline to write a persuasive one, and some SOP tips. But it would help if you remembered which course you are writing the SOP for. The SOP for an MBA is different from the SOP for an MS or an MSc.

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