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Tips for Writing a Powerful Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Updated on 05 May, 2023

An SOP or statement of purpose can be defined as an essay introducing the applicant and portraying their intent. It is an integral part of the application process while applying abroad for further education. It usually comprises a crisp but comprehensive discussion about the applicant’s personal and academic background, achievements, personal goals, prospects, professional experiences, and career intentions. Foreign universities expect the SOP to highlight their interests. Universities usually seek why the applicant has chosen the particular country and university to pursue their future education. Getting admission into a prestigious university will impact your future, and writing an impactful SOP is the first step in that process. It is crucial to put time and effort into your SOP to generate satisfactory results. 

This article will take you through the steps of creating an impressive SOP focusing on some tips for writing a statement of purpose that will set you apart from the rest of the crowd. 

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For writing a perfect SOP, there are multiple formats you can follow. Some of the commonly used formats have been mentioned below:


Paragraph 1: Introduction

Paragraph 2: Academic background

Paragraph 3: Career Aspirations and prospects

Paragraph 4: Conclusion

This is the most basic format which divides the SOP into 4 parts. Each part should mention only relevant information regarding the applicant’s background and intentions. Usually, such formats work for graduate programs where the applicants are just stepping out of school. Applicants looking to apply for master’s or doctorate programs will have to follow a more comprehensive format to intrigue their readers. The following structure will provide a better idea of writing an SOP for post-graduation or Ph.D. programs.

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Paragraph 1: Introduction and personal background

Paragraph 2: Academic Background and Professional experiences

Paragraph 3: Achievements and extracurricular activities

Paragraph 4: Future Prospects and Goals 

Paragraph 5: Conclusion.

This particular format allows you to be even more descriptive with your approach and include more about professional experiences and achievements. This will give the universities a better understanding of your abilities and qualities. Many colleges expect even more from an SOP to understand the applicant’s intentions regarding the course, university, and prospects. The following format is the most commonly used and comprehensive format that delves deeper into the applicant’s ideologies, abilities, and personality.

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Paragraph 1: Introduction and Personal Background

Paragraph 2: Academic Background and Achievements

Paragraph 3: Professional experiences like jobs or internships and extracurricular activities 

Paragraph 4: Personality and Abilities of the applicant 

Paragraph 5: Reason for choosing the specific course, university, and country.

Paragraph 6: Expectations from the Course,  prospects, and Ambitions

Paragraph 7: Conclusion

The SOPs are written in paragraph formats to maintain a sense of fluidity and wholeness throughout the essay. Maintaining coherence is vital when writing an SOP. Usually, an SOP is within 800 to 1000 words, requiring you to be direct and relevant.

What do the Universities expect from an SOP:

· The universities seek to assess the candidate’s writing ability.

· Academic background and performance of the candidate is important factor while selecting candidates. A pristine academic performance plays a big role in your selection.

· Personality and attitude of the candidate towards the course, the university, and the country.

· Universities want to clearly understand the candidate’s ambitions, career goals, and prospects.

· The applicant’s compelling reasons for enrolling in the university and studying in that country is an important criterion for the universities. 

· Universities look to recognize and analyze applicants’ thought processes by understanding their portrayal of ideas.

· Universities strive to discern the applicant’s x-factor that distinguishes the candidate from the competition.

Recommended Reads:

SOP for AustraliaSOP for GermanySOP for Canada
SOP for UK  

SOP Writing Tips and Guidelines:

It is important to point out that the guidance provided in this section can be considered as tips for writing SOP for MS, MA, MBA, Ph.D., and other graduate courses. Below are the tips for writing an SOP: 

· Provide only relevant information. It is extremely crucial to stick to the point while writing an SOP. Comprehensive descriptions of your intentions, inspirations, and reasons for choosing the course and university need to be included to create the right impression.

· Make sure that you do not use a conversational tone as it might be considered inadequate. A formal tone will keep the focus on the goal and will portray a sincere attitude.

· Personal experiences and anecdotes can help make the SOP more engaging. It is an important requirement while writing an SOP. The impact of such experiences will convey a deeper understanding of your personality and abilities. 

· Usually, it is advised to avoid writing extremely long SOPs. Long SOPs tend to drift off-topic. It will generate an adverse response from the reader and might reflect poorly on your end. It is important to clearly state your ideas and prioritize matters that will make a difference. It is important to avoid random banters at all costs. Many universities provide specifications for the SOP in terms of word limit, font, font size, formatting, etc. Make sure that you adhere to these specifications.

· Providing false facts and lying on your SOP can have a detrimental impact on your final assessment. Under no circumstances should you resort to unfair means to boost your image. It may lead to disqualification or getting blacklisted from the university. Getting blacklisted may invariably impact your chances of gaining admission elsewhere.

· Finally, before submitting your essay to the university, it is of utmost importance to proofread the SOP several times. Allowing others to review your essay and receiving constructive inputs is a practical way to ensure the SOP’s quality and standard. Spelling and grammatical composition must be given top priority. Any mistakes within the SOP will generate adversities within your selection process.

· It is important to portray confidence as it bodes well with the admissions committee. Using an active tone is a good way to make your case. A passive tone may create the wrong idea about your personality. Mentioned below are some pointers showing how to maintain a confident tone:

1. Ending sentences like “passionately interested in the subject”

2. Using words like ‘intelligent, practical, capable, logical, team player, innovator’, etc.

3. By mentioning how you were academically and professionally well prepared.

4. Talk about overcoming the challenges you faced in school or college. Everybody enjoys a success story.

5. Provide achievements of a significant standard, which will illustrate your potential and capabilities.

6. Talk about your extracurricular involvement and achievements, which explain your personality and interests.

· Try and take as much help as possible while writing your SOP. You can approach your professors to guide you through your SOP and provide feedback.

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Recommended Reads:

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