Statement of Purpose: How to Write a SOP

Published On: 25 Jun 2012

 | Last Updated On: 19 Jul 2013

The Statement of Purpose or the SOP is a very important part of your application to any of the foreign universities. It is an opportunity you get to tell the universities about yourself beyond what is revealed by answering the standard questions asked in the application form.

Simple format that you could follow for SOP:

Divide your statement of purpose into various paragraphs, each highlighting one of the many important points that you would like talk about.

At the start of your SOP you could include information regarding your motivation to pursue the course you are applying for. Explain how the course and the university relate to your personal experiences and interests.

Follow this with details of the proposed course and its relevance to you. Research the course well and let it show in what you put down in the statement. Explain what the university offers particularly different to help your need to study the course.  You could also reflect on the individual modules of the course.

Describe your background including details of your academic record and work experience. Highlight your achievements, particularly those related to the field of study you wish to pursue. Explain your overall GPA and, if need be, specific scores. Make sure you highlight your best performance during the years of your previous study.

Finally include details of your future plans. This section could be used to explain how the chosen course will help you achieve your goals. You could also explain how you plan to use the skills and knowledge you would gain through the course to make a positive change in your community.

Here are certain points that you need to keep in mind while preparing your SOP:

  • Most universities prefer a typed SOP over a handwritten copy.
  • Your statement should be in no less 600 words and no more than 1,000.
  • The SOP will help you to emphasize your strengths and maybe explain any weaknesses in your application. As part of your application, this could be an important document if used correctly to demonstrate your knowledge of the university, course, your study plans and the reasons for choosing the course. A well-written SOP will give you an edge over other candidates.
  • The Statement of Purpose has to be direct and simple so that it helps your admission officer to know you better. The admissions committee prefers essays that are well thought out and reflect what’s important to you. Be honest and straightforward in your statement.
  • Write your SOP all by yourself. Admission officers have your GRE and GMAT scores which will reflect your writing skills. If your SOP is not an original piece of writing, you may be certain of not getting admission in the university.
  • Write the SOP in first person, that is, as you writing about yourself and your experiences. Be personal and focus on the course you wish to study.
  • Make sure that only about 10% of your statement is about your hobbies.  Don't list books you've read (or plan to read). Instead, give examples of things you've found interesting, say why, and be ready to expand on this in an interview
  • Don't list achievements or work experience: reflect on them.
  • Prepare several drafts before you make the final copy of your statement to ensure that you include all details that are important and relevant and avoid mistakes that could cost you your admission.

Students must realize that the Statement of Purpose is one of the deciding factors for an admission. If you write a good SOP your chances of creating a favorable impression in the minds of the admissions committee members is very high, thereby increasing your chances of obtaining an admission.

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