How To Write A Good SOP

Written By: Shatavisha Chakravorty

Usually, for any good university there are greater number of applicants for a course as compared to the number of seats. In such a scenario, the process of bagging a seat is pretty challenging. While there are many factors that play a role here (things like your grades in high school or the letter of recommendation from your boss) one of the most important factors is your statement of purpose.

The statement of purpose (or SOP as it is popularly called) is what differentiates one student from the other. It also speaks about the degree of interest that a student has in each course. At this point it is to be noted that a student of exceptional calibre may not be fit for a said course just because their talents are not in line with the requirements of the course.

How To Write A Good SOP

One of the most crucial points by which universities identify which student is best suited for the course is through the SOPs that is submitted by the applicant. Having established the importance of an SOP, by now you must be aware of the need for writing a good SOP while tracking your career path. This article goes on to elaborate on some tips and tricks that will help you write a good SOP.

1. Adhere To The Directions Given

Generally any university lists a set of instructions that is to be followed while writing an SOP. Do not get too creative and cross the limits. Whatever you do, make sure that you stick to the rules that are listed. This holds true in the case of word count as well as other things like format and alignment.

2. Personalise Your SOP

A common mistake that most people do is sending out the same SOP to multiple universities. While this may seem to be the easy way out, when you are applying to multiple universities abroad, the fact is that this sort of generic application is usually the first one to be rejected. Hence, make it a point to demonstrate your interest in the school by modifying your application to suit the institution.

3. Quantify Your Life Story

We understand that an SOP should contain brief insights about your life. However, make sure you do not include generic statements in your SOP (because everyone will do the same and as a result, your application has a higher chance of being rejected). Try to include as many facts and figures as possible. If you have worked or volunteered at a firm, make sure you explicitly mention the name of the firm and your role.

4. Choose The Correct Tone

Do not write your SOP in a tone that is over formal. Doing so will make people not want to read it further. Also, your SOP shouldn't read like a letter to an old friend. Ideally an SOP should be written in a tone that is slightly formal and yet has a tinge of uniqueness to it. Small things like this will help your SOP get noticed and help you bag the seat you had always dreamt of.

5. Check Your Spelling And Grammar

Some people have the habit of turning off the automatic spelling and grammar check feature while writing. In case you are one of those people, make sure that you do run a spelling and grammar check before you send the SOP. Remember, a small grammatical or spelling mistakes in your SOP may cost you a seat in a foreign university.

6. Make A Draft

Do not expect to come out with the best SOP in the first shot. Remember that there has been no work of literature that has been completed in a moment of inspiration. It is always about hours of brainstorming. Hence, it is a good idea to dedicate a few precious hours to drafting your SOP. Proofread and polish your draft after every attempt and send out your SOP only after you are confident of the same.

7. Be Clear About What You Want To Portray

As Indians we have a natural tendency to go about beating about the bush. Foreign universities do not have time to go through a host of flowery writings. Hence, if your SOP is longer than necessary, chances are that it will end up being rejected. To avoid such a thing from happening, make sure that you are concise about what you write.

8. Be Yourself

In the process of trying to impress the university, students often end up creating stories and projecting a larger-than-life image of themselves. It is important to realise that universities receive hundreds of applications every season and it does not take them more than a minute to gauge the sincerity of your words. Hence, make it a point to state only the truth.

9. Address Your Problems

Understand that no one is perfect and it is okay to admit that you have had your own share of problems. How you have overcome them (or what steps are you currently taking to address the same) is what sets you apart. Do not shy away from mentioning the same in your SOP. This does not mean that you will go at length describing your weaknesses. Choose one or two weakness (the steps of overcoming which are relevant to your course of study) and mention the same in your SOP.

10. Have Someone Review It

It is a general human tendency to neglect our own mistakes. Hence, it is a good idea to have a second opinion on your SOP. For this, choose someone who has a flair for the language or someone who is in the education field. Such a person will be able to direct you in a proper manner.

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