Difference between SOP and Personal Statement

Difference between SOP and Personal Statement

The majority of reputed universities ask for a statement of purpose (SOP) or a personal statement. Although Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement both contains information quite different, yet two are very alike. You must know the difference between sop and personal statement if you are planning to study overseas so that you can answer effectively according to the requirements of the university and that can increase your possibilities of selection in the university. In a nutshell, a Personal Statement states who you are, whereas a Statement of Purpose describes what you intend to do. Let us take an in-depth look at both of these essential essays, the process of writing and how both essays are similar and different. In the end, we will ensure that you write a good essay that articulates which course you plan to choose.  


In the SOP (Statement of purpose), you need to tell the admission committee about your purpose in pursuing a particular program and how greatly you fit for the program. In essence, a well-written SOP could convince the admission officers to accept your application. Additionally, an exceptional SOP must include the following aspects: 

1) Career goals

2) Academic excellence

3) Education background

4) Professional recognitions

5) Research goals (for masters program)

Statement of Purpose (SOP) with respect to countries
SOP for Australia SOP for Germany SOP for Canada

Personal Statement

A personal statement is a type of personal note, in which an applicant needs to tell about their personal and academic background. In a personal statement, you are promoting yourself about why you are the right applicant for the particular course. In it, you need to prove your readiness for taking admission to particular courses. You need to prove your enthusiasm for the field you are applying for.

Few details you need to add in your personal statement include:

1) Your goals

2) Your values

3) A personal story

4) Your motivations

5) Importance of chosen course in today’s world

Understanding the difference between sop and personal statement

1) The statement of purpose is all about what you want to achieve in your career and is more focused on your academic/ professional qualities while the statement of purpose is about your present achievements and personal motivation.  

2) The statement of purpose consists of educational excellence, career goals, and how well you fit in the program while the personal statement expresses your motives for applying for the specific programs and any other major challenge or accomplishment you have faced till now. 

3) The purpose of writing SOP is to explain why you want to pursue a given subject while the aim of writing the personal statement is to tell why you are a deserving candidate for the program.  

4) The SOP is a forward-looking essay in which admission officers are keenly watching every detail you present to them related to future career plans and research goals.  On the other hand, the personal statement is a reflection of your happenings which is more concerned about your prior studies.

5) SOP is a two page essay, a much detailed version. While a personal document is usually a crisp and one page essay.

Understanding the key similarities between sop and personal statement

Although an SOP and a personal statement share a common goal, still both essays dictate how meritorious you are to get success in the program. In both essays, you need to carefully read all the directions, use a professional tone, be honest, and proofread many times. Both types of essays need to be written between 1-2 pages.

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SOP or personal statement: Which one to write?

Choosing the right essay completely depends on the conditions of universities as some institutions would want you to write an SOP while others would instruct you to write a personal statement. Some global grad institutes ask for separate statements for admission while some combine the qualities of both essays and want applicants to write a comprehensive essay. For instance, a combination of SOP and personal statement is like talking about the academic and professional goals with a personal touch of successes and motivation. To find out which essay you need to write, check the website of the university, you will find the details on the program application requirements page. 

Tips to write a Statement of Purpose vs. Personal Statement

In this section, we will provide you with the best tips to write an appealing personal statement and statement of purpose. 

Tips to write an impressive SOP:

1) Mention what the admission committee wants to know:

Your SOP should be concise, specifying your research interests, future intentions, and other aspects that may help the admission committee in analyzing your aptitude and motive for taking admission to their university. 

2) Write a unique but winning SOP:

Admission officers read hundreds of applications in each academic session. They have too much expertise in finding flaws and insincerity from miles away. However, they will be genuinely excited if they see a different SOP filled with thoughts of the future and realistic achievements of the present.

3) Write an interesting opening:

All candidates are equally worthy like you. So, you must write an SOP that stands out from other candidates. Start with an appealing introduction that will help you capture the attention of admission officers. The best way of writing an introduction is to write about an incident or event that draws you to pursue the course you want to study.

4) Mention your ultimate goals:

After sharing your motive to study the particular course, introduce your career goals. You need to describe how the specific program will help you in attaining your career objective. Tell your objectives related to the program you are applying to. 

5) Highlight your achievements:

SOP is not about defining the goals but also about academic and professional accomplishments. Try to be specific about your achievements and your decision of choosing the particular program.

Tips to write an impactful personal statement

Plan your writing:

Outline the structure before you start writing the personal statement. Write down your thoughts in an organized manner and ensure that your essay flows smoothly. 

Write your motivational instances:

As a personal statement is more personal so you need to find personal reasons that motivate you to apply for the particular program. Spend time checking what motivated you and to apply for the course specifically. 

Find your unique qualities:

Talk to your friends and family members and ask them about your unique qualities. Sometimes, it is difficult to list down your strengths so it is better to ask your siblings. Ask them if they remember any story and these situations will set you apart from other aspirants.

Tell about your weakness or challenges that you succeeded in:

You can discuss your weaknesses or challenges that you overcame in recent years. You can talk about personal struggles you encountered during school or college. Despite any challenge, write a positive conclusion, in the end, that will tell the admission committee that you can tackle any challenge and get success in any field or situation.

Objectives of Personal Statement 

Let us look at some of the main objectives of a personal statement:

  • You must demonstrate your writing skills personally when applying to a graduate program. Remember, your Statement will help the authorities evaluate your nature and qualities as a person.
  • You must also discuss your career, personal, and educational goals clearly and answer general questions as laid down by the university’s admission committee.
  • You should gauge your analytical and critical thinking and your editing skills, writing, and general reasoning. You need to share your work experience and educational qualification.
  • Your writing must give an insight that will help the university’s admission committee to determine whether you are a good fit or not.

The personal Statement vs. Statement of purpose will give us a detailed understanding of both documents. It is important to understand their importance and topic of focus for best results.

Comparison: Personal Statement Vs. SOP

Difference between Statement of purpose and personal Statement:


Statement of Purpose

Personal Statement


You have to show them that you fit well in the specific department you have chosen. You must focus on the qualifications and credentials.

This will help the university’s admission committee have a better understanding. It will help them understand whether you can blend in the cultural, social, and philosophical fabric. You must state your past experiences that will portray how it has shaped you as a person. 

Courses applicable

MBA or MS aspirants have to submit this major document to complete their admission process.

This document is mandatory for students who apply for business, law, or medical schools.


The quality of this document will determine the possibility of rejection or selection.

This document is necessary for students to apply for fellowships and scholarships.

How to write

SOP is more focused on the type of program you wish to pursue. You must write a detailed document on the subject.

It is general content where you have to write about your role model or anything else that has helped shape your attitude towards your goal.


This focuses on how eager you are for the course and the contribution you will make to society after achieving the degree. You talk about your future aspirations.

In the Personal Statement, you talk about your past experiences. And how it has shaped you to become a deserving candidate for this scholarship or admission.

Subjects to be covered

You have to state your college education, relevant work, internship experience, additional training, an explanation of backlogs, research papers, future goals, and how you wish to accomplish higher education.

You will have to mention your financial or cultural background, traditional attitude, international exposure, and own experiences. How you have learned other life values like perseverance, love, and hope for humanity and empathy through volunteering in social events. 

The differences between sop and personal Statement will help us understand the importance of the documents and how well they can be constructed to get accepted. Personal Statement vs. SOP will help all new applicants to write them better and have a powerful impact on the admission committee of the universities.


Both SOP and personal statements are meant to influence the admission committee by presenting important information in your words. The SOP is more formal, which highlights your academic or professional background, recognitions, realizations, future goals that tells if you are a worthy candidate for the program. In contrast, a personal statement is a bit informal and focuses on your qualities as a person. Most grad courses require a personal statement or SOP or a combination of both, however there are some universities which require both. 

For more information about writing an exceptional SOP, check out our other blogs. Leave your comments below!

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Frequently Asked Questions 

What should you write in a personal statement?

Let us look at what should be written in a personal statement:

1. First of all, be yourself and focus on being as genuine as possible when writing a personal statement.

2. Avoid using cliché statements to come across as real.

3. Do not forget to proofread what you have written before sending it.

4. You can use your personal experiences to create an impact and better your points of getting shortlisted. But do not make the whole document overly focused on your experiences alone.

5. Use simple and easy-to-understand words. Remember, you want to be understood.

6. If you are asked a question, answer it completely and confidently with specific examples and details. Being to the point will let the admission committee understand that you follow directions well.

7. Always write new unique experiences in your Statement for every college you apply to.

8. Understand the difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement. You must know when to write a personal statement and when to avoid it.

What is an example of a SOP?

Let us look at some examples showing the Statement of purpose. You can use these to explain your thoughts and aspirations. For example, “My purpose is to spread awareness regarding the mental health of every individual”. This Statement shows what you want to do while studying at the university.

What is an example of a personal statement?

An ideal personal statement explains your attributes as a deserving candidate for the institution. You must be able to explain in detail your past experiences and how it has helped you grow emotionally and mentally as a person. Human values are best learned through personal experiences, and thus it is important to show what values you hold to become a part of a specific social circle or community. For example, you can say, “I have attended various social awareness programs that discuss and work against sexual assault in society.” This experience has helped you understand the trauma a person goes through and how society reacts to it.

How do you write a personal statement of purpose?

To better express yourself as a person, a personal statement for a purpose helps. You can identify one biggest attribute about yourself and try describing it with the help of five words. You can write down your purpose by using those words. These words will guide you to keep on track and write a personal mission statement as short and clear as possible.

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Related Reads:
How to write an SOP for MIS with work experience?
SOP Samples for MS – Things to Include, Format & More

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