All You Need to Know about SOP – Basics, Format and Tips
What is an SOP?
An SOP stands for Statement of Purpose (SoP). To be precise, the statement of purpose is a personal essay that you must write clearly stating your intentions to go overseas. This statement gives you a chance to tell the universities and colleges why you have chosen, why you are applying and why they should want you as a student. An SOP is a document which shows your passion, clarity of thoughts, dedication, inspiration, and most importantly, uniqueness.
Importance of an SOP:
The evaluator of your admission or the admission review team has never seen you or heard of you, therefore SOP serves the purpose of telling them why they should choose you. To apply for admission to International Universities, you have to take utmost care in SOP preparation. It is “the” most important document.
They want to know a student in and out and not just by his/her transcripts and projects. An SOP document carries about 30% weightage of the application besides other things. A well-written SOP can tilt the scales in your favor.
Basics to Write an SOP:
The SOP is basically an essay, which is the most important document which will take a lot of brainstorming, time and energy to write. One should ideally start working on from 1st week of September.
To be able to reach the final copy of the SOP, many rough drafts need to be made and editing has to be done continuously.
Before, the final SOP ready, it is always advisable to get it proof-read by your seniors or experts.
One should start an SOP with a quote that has inspired them the most or can relate to, also by explaining a little about in simple words (in like 2 lines).
1st Para: Describe your childhood life and interests in an innocent way (don’t drag it for long) and how that interest is still in you.
2nd Para: Highlight your academic performance in a subtle manner. Also, write about your current subjects that inspired you towards the course and express it as one more element towards your interest.
3rd Para: Give an idea of the Projects undertaken (if any) and explain what you learned from it rather than boasting about the project. Explain your internships or work experience well.
4th Para: This is the most essential paragraph, make sure you don’t drag it and chose your words correctly so that the reader gets answers to 3 primary questions essentially –
- Why have you decided to choose to study abroad? (Okay, everyone knows it’s the fat pay package but you can’t mention it, of course)
- Why have you opted for this course and university? (Don’t brag about the ambiance, faculty, and infrastructure of the university too much)
- What have you liked about the university? (not only pertaining to the course but a general liking and the township)
5th Para: Explain your goals both short term and long term, where you see yourself 5 years down the line. Express the content in this paragraph pretty well (one of the crucial factors that decide your admission).
Last Para: This is the concluding paragraph (in 2-3 lines) saying that you will serve really well in the respective university and will bring a lot of value to the institution and your home country.
Important Note: Always make rough drafts for each university applying to. The main content can remain the same for all but few paragraphs need alterations in accordance with the specific university and course name. Try and finish the common sections of each draft soon so that you have enough time to research and draft the 5th Para.
Tip: Starting and Ending line of the SOP is very crucial because essentially gives the evaluator an impression about how much time should he/she invest in reading your SOP. Also, the evaluator might skim through the entire SOP and just basis on the first and last sentence decide your result.
Recommended Article: What do Admission Officers and Faculty Members Look For in an SOP?
Things NOT to write in SOP:
a. Don’t portray your achievements very boastfully or put your failures in a very sympathize manner. Put it in a subtle way, such that it portrays how an achievement helped you grow ambitious or how the failure became a driving force of your life.
b. Language is a key parameter so you should avoid using slangs, and short-form for words like you, are, etc. Keep your vocabulary in control though. Don’t refrain from using nice words. Make sure that the usage of the word makes sense to you, and hopefully, to the evaluator.
c. Avoid being caught in the plagiarism act – that is, don’t copy-paste any sentence in the SOP from any resource. You are free to read samples and go through templates but draft your SOP from scratch. The Uniqueness of the SOP is highly appreciated.
d. Avoid talking about religion, politics and stock markets opinions in an SOP, it might become ambiguous and lead to a conflict of interests. Try being simple and incline your talks about the course, your goals, and objectives in life.
e. An evaluator doesn’t have an entire day to read about you in your SOP, therefore don’t make it too long and boring. Keep it precise, concise and reader-friendly.
Best wishes when you start working on your SOP if you need help with brainstorming or editing, please feel free to reach out to us.
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Note: This blog post was originally published in Education & You.
Author: Priyamvada Agarwal
Priyamvada Agarwal is a proficient career consultant, educationist & test-prep trainer from Kolkata, shaping the lives of numerous students since 2010. She graduated in Arts from Calcutta University and completed her post-graduate from the University of Cambridge.
ver the years, Priyamvada has interacted with and trained thousands of candidates for IELTS/TOEFL/PTE and Verbal section GMAT/GRE/SAT/ACT. She has also been providing soft-skill & life-skill training to innumerable people through the skill-enhancement workshops that she conducts in MNCs, Private Firms and leading Colleges.
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