How to Write Statement of Purpose - A Complete Guide

You may have heard a lot about statement of purpose but may not know what it really is. This blog tries to present a comprehensive account of it. By reading it from start to end, you will understand:

statement of purpose

Table of content

statement of purpose

Chapter 1

SOP Overview

statement of purpose

Chapter 2

SOP Samples

statement of purpose

Chapter 3

Why & What

statement of purpose

Chapter 4

Guidelines

statement of purpose

Chapter 5

Common Mistakes

statement of purpose

Chapter 6

SOP Writing Tips

Chapter 1

SOP Overview

This chapter gives you a wholistic picture about the statement of purpose and introduces a few basic things you will have to bear in mind while composing the document. It will cover areas like:

statement of purpose

What is a statement of purpose and why it is important?

Statement of purpose is a document you need to include in your application for advanced studies at universities and colleges. Statement of purpose, which is the full form of SOP, plays a very important role in the admission process. It helps selection committee know the applicants more closely and determine their eligibility.

When admissions are open, institutes receive hundreds of applications from eligible candidates. They can’t admit everyone but the most suitable ones. By going through the SOPs of each candidate, the selection committee evaluates their academic excellence, domain knowledge, personality, social commitment, etc. and arrive at a final decision about their selection.

What to write in SOP or Statement of purpose?

In your statement of purpose, you should write about your reasons for selecting a particular course and university. You should say how the course will benefit your career. Apart from that, you should give a brief account of your academic and professional backgrounds and how your experiences molded your skills, vision for future etc. It is important to know what the selection committee expects from you and be ready to fashion your SOP accordingly. Sometimes, institute would give you guidelines regarding what to write in statement of purpose. In such scenarios, it is imperative that you address all those points carefully in your writeup.

Two Golden Rules to Follow in SOP Making

There are numerous tips and tricks for writing a strong and impactful SOP. In fact, all of them are useful to some degrees. Boiling down all, you will be left with two golden rules. They are:

Do not copy from old SOPs

Internet is accessible to everyone. If you think its okay to copy or modify an existing SOP from online, be warned not to. Plagiarism is a big red flag.

Straight to the point and in compliance

Whatever you write in your SOP, make it straight-to-the point and clear. If your university gives any guidelines, follow them strictly.

How long should a statement of purpose be?

There is no strict rule with regard to the length of your statement of purpose. However, the general understanding across institutes is to favor concise writeups. Another important thing is to follow the instructions given to you by the institute. If it specifies a 500 word SOP, be certain about that. In the absence of no specific instructions, feel free to make it anywhere between 1000 and 1500.

How does an impactful statement of purpose look like?

Writing the perfect SOP is one of the biggest challenges for every student who is thinking about advanced education. One must ensure many factors in the writeup in order to make it a good SOP.

Three Major Differences Between Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement

Statement of purpose mainly focuses on your credentials and qualifications to prove you are the right choice. Besides these areas, personal statement sheds light on to your personality and state how apt you are to the social and cultural aspect of the institute.

Statement of purpose is a mandatory document required by most institutes from applicants of their higher education programs. Personal statement is asked mostly from students who wish to apply for fellowship or scholarship along with their admission.

Statement of purpose is more course oriented. Everything you write in it must be related to chosen course. Personal statement is more generic in nature. It deals with all the external factors that shaped your perspective towards your career and higher study.

Institutes sometimes may tell you what to include in a statement of purpose. If you receive any such instructions, follow them strictly. In the case of personal statement, follow special guidelines if you receive any or make it in a generally accepted format.

Chapter 2

SOP Samples

Samples helps one immensely while preparing for SOP writing. This chapter introduces you:

statement of purpose

The best way to understand a statement of purpose is to review a sample. Although one must strictly abstain from copying samples, it is always good to be familiar with the structure, SOP writing format and other key areas of the document by reviewing sop samples.

Chapter 3

Why & What

Statement of purpose is required by different authorities and for different purposes. This chapter looks into:

statement of purpose

Statement of purpose is required for different purposes and by different authorities. One must customize the document according to the context for which it is made and the statement of purpose guidelines. For instance, there are obvious differences between an SOP for university admission and an SOP for student visa.

Statement of purpose for university

You will require this when you want to apply for higher education program at a university. You must follow the special statement of purpose format and requirements given by the university.

Statement of purpose for job

It is asked by recruiters from their applicants. Understand what points are required in the job SOP and address each of them with clarity and supporting evidences.

Statement of purpose for Student visa

This is to explain to the visa authority about your reasons for applying for student visa. You shouldn’t forget to say why you want to study in this particular country.

Statement of purpose for college

You will need this in order to apply for advanced education at colleges. Most of the colleges require writing a good statement of purpose and they sometimes even give instructions for the same.

Statement of purpose for visa

To visit a country on a visit visa or dependent visa, you are required to give your reasons for the visit in a well-constructed and convincing statement of purpose.

Chapter 4

Guidelines

One must be willing to follow certain guidelines – the generally accepted ones or the ones given by the institute while writing the SOP. In this chapter, you will see

statement of purpose

How do you write a perfect statement of purpose?

Start with a captivating introduction

A catchy introduction is a must for a perfect statement of purpose. Even if it takes time, be ready to come up with strong and captivating introduction that keeps the reader glued to the document till the end.

Organize paragraphs logically

It is very important to organize paragraphs logically in the SOP to win readability. Each paragraph should talk about specific points – academic and professional backgrounds, future plans, motivations, etc.

End with an impactful conclusion

You must end your statement of purpose with strong conclusion that reminds the reader about the key points discussed in the writeup.

What NOT to write in a SOP?

Cliched expressions

You must try to make your SOP unique and original. It is better to avoid cliched expressions to achieve that.

Personal details

Do not write about any personal details that do not have any relevance to the context or purpose of your SOP. Be vigilant to cherry-pick relevant details.

Family details

Selection committee is not interested in knowing about your family history. Hence, you do not have to write anything about that in the writeup.

Academic scores

You are not required to write anything about your academic scores – GPA, IELTS score, GMAT etc. in your SOP. You indeed produce all these documents in the application.

Can a good statement of purpose be short?

It is good to write a short and concise SOP. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be too short either, for instance less than 500 words, unless your institute stipulates so. Be sure to touch upon all the relevant points with utmost clarity and with no further clarifications needed. In the ideal scenario, you can write between 1000 to 1500 words.

How many pages should my SOP need to be?

If your institute doesn’t tell you how many pages your SOP needs to be, write it between two to three pages or between 1000 and 1500 words.

Are two pages too long for a statement of purpose?

No. two pages is the ideal length for a statement of purpose. Choosing a standard academic font and keeping it between 10 and 12 points size, two pages will be about 1000 words.

Chapter 5

Common Mistakes

In this chapter of the blog. you are going to see:

statement of purpose

Six Common Mistakes to Be Cautious of While Writing SOP

While writing a statement of purpose, one must be careful enough to avoid the common mistakes. As selection panel reads hundreds of SOPs daily, they will quickly notice writeups that is foolproof of these common mistakes. They will certainly favor such documents.

Generic nature

If you intend to apply at multiple institutes, be sure to come up with customized SOP for each of them. Make sure to meet the institute requirements.

Hollow claims

Do not write anything in your SOP that sounds empty. For instance, if you make a claim about an achievement, back it up with evidences.

Lack of convictions

Do not use phrases like I think, I believe, I assume or I feel to write about your opinions. Reflect your strong convictions throughout your statement of purpose.

Hiding weak points

If you have had a long gap between your last academic qualification and the present year, explain what caused the gap. Turn those weak points into your strengths.

Lack of coherence

If your SOP lacks a strong logical connection between sentences and paragraphs, admission officers would be less impressed. So, make everything logically connected.

Overlength

An overly lengthy SOP is less likely to impress the selection committee. Make it short and concise within the recommended word limit of the institute or in compliance with the general practice.

Chapter 6

SOP Writing Tips

Next, know the best sop tips.

statement of purpose

What are the basic tips to use while composing an SOP?

Whether you want to apply at a college or university in your home country or abroad, an SOP is an essential requirement nowadays. The better your SOP is, the higher your chances for getting selected. Follow these simple tips during your SOP writing.

Get it ready early

Get ready with your SOP as early as possible. It is better to have the final copy of your SOP at hand at least two weeks in advance.

Make it interesting to read

Do not sound too formal in the SOP. Try to be maximum friendly, conversational and interesting within the limit of a professional writing tone.

Backed with stories

Come up with real stories from your academic or professional life that blends well with the context of your statement of academic purpose.

Seek your friends’ opinion

Once you have completed writing your SOP, give it to your friends or colleagues to read. Their constructive feedback can be a great tool to modify your writeup.

Proofread

Don’t rush to finalize your SOP. Be ready to proofread it for a few times. Each time you read it; you will notice some areas to improve.

Seek professional help

If you are not hundred percent sure about the quality of your SOP, it is always good to seek professional help. It is not wise to take any chance with your career.

Have you got any doubts?

We are positive that this blog has helped you understand the core facts about SOP.

It is hundred percent true that statement of purpose is your entry ticket to your dream institute.

Now I’d like to hand it up to you.

Considering the serious nature of SOP and its capacity to play a pivotal role in your admission.

Be sure to write it as perfectly as you can.

Seeking professional help, if needed, is wise.

Perhaps you have doubts about something you read

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    VASUKI RAM

    Founder/Sr. Writer - SOP Consultants

    Vasuki Ram, senior writer and the founder of SOP Consultants is a B-tech Graduate who used to work in an MNC. Starting from 2013, she along with her team has assisted more than 10,000 students. Shift in her career was drastic. Read full story here.