Published On: January 12, 2019 07:22 PM NPT

Writing a strong Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Writing a strong Statement of Purpose (SOP)

With students looking for admissions in good colleges and universities, writing a statement of Purpose is mandatory. It’s often seen that students applying to universities abroad have difficulties in preparing a strong SOP.

To start with, what is an SOP?

An SOP is a long essay that is often asked by universities abroad. The full form of SOP is Statement of Purpose. Usually about 1000 words, this essay seeks to understand the candidate’s life, the motivations for the chosen career path and his/her goals. There are many elements to a Statement of Purpose or a SOP as it is famously referred to. The Universities could ask question-based essays or simply to present your statement of purpose. Until and unless categorically asked, a SOP must include your goals, the career path you have taken up so far as well as your academic progress. Other elements that are further important to the SOP are also the personal motivations that lead you to choose the university/course you have applied to as well as how you intend to use that experience to achieve that goal.

How to Write a Winning SOP?

Everyone would tell you that statement of purpose is perhaps a very important aspect of your application abroad. The degree of importance might vary but it would be more or less important. Hence, it is important to write a statement of purpose that would help you stand apart. However, before you get started, there are a few things you must be very very clear about. One – statement of purpose is not your resume in a running form; and two, you cannot write it in a day.

The basic rule of a statement of purpose is to understand what to include in a SOP and how to write it. Like every individual, the statement of purpose is also unique in a lot many ways. Needless to say, your experiences would be your own, your thoughts and ideas would be your own and your aspirations would be unique and different too. But when it comes to writing them down, there are a few basics that everyone must follow. We look at them in these 5 basic steps on how to write a winning SOP.


Step 1: Prepare a list of what all you wish to include.

A Statement of Purpose is going to be a long document. But before you start writing, you need to think and prepare a list of what all things you would like to include. Statement of Purpose ideally lets you express the journey of your life so far and seeks to understand your goals and aspirations. Hence, there are so many things that you can include. You need to understand what all to include in your SOP and then prepare a list. Simply take a piece of paper and jot down all the points that you think you would like to talk about. It must have a list of your short-term goals (if you have more than one), your long-term goals and of course all the life events you might want to include. Remember, the key is to write down every incident, however, irrelevant it might seem. At this stage, you must not worry about deciding what all not to include while writing the SOP.


Step 2: Ideate on the theme of your SOP

Your SOP must have a theme. What we mean by that is that it should try to focus on a certain thought process. You might want to tell about everything, but you must decide how your SOP should progress. Thinking of a theme or to simply put, how your SOP would flow towards your goals is important. Imagine that you are telling your story…and ask yourself…which incident in your life you would like to stand out. It could be a particular incident that got you interested in that Mechanical Engineering course or perhaps how your job highlighted why you need to take up an MBA at that juncture. But finding the theme is very important and the easiest manner of doing that is finding that one turning point in your life when you knew that this is what you had to do. 


Step 3: Prune the List

At this stage, you must now revisit the list prepared and start pruning it. After deciding the theme, it becomes, however, to start removing instances which would not fit with it. Simply take a red pen and keep striking out the instances that are not important or, would not necessarily go well with the theme decided. Remember at this stage, it is extremely important to know what to include in a SOPand more importantlywhat all you should not include in your SOP.

Also, the list usually can be customized as per the course you are applying for. For instance, what to include in an MBA SOP varies from what you must include in an MS SOP. Also, how to write a SOP for UG courses is completely different as there are lesser instances and relevant projects to highlight. So, depending on the course, cut short the list prepared.


Step 4: Research about the course and the University

You would know a lot about the course and the university. This time around, research about the culture, the alumni and find out how the culture and the success stories of the university chosen fit with the theme you have chosen. This would help you greatly customize your SOP and sync your goals with your chosen path. For research-based programs, it would be almost necessary to include the names of the faculty members and their respective research projects that are currently on-going. Remember, even if it is not categorically asked, it would bode well to do your research about the faculty members who would be taking up the course you are planning to take up. A thorough research about the program is highly appreciated by universities abroad. 

Step 5: Write, Edit, and Re-write

After completing the tasks, it is now time to write. We always recommend never submit your first draft. It is extremely important to write it once and re-visit it. You may not want to have three or four edits, but one is a must. Even if the story and thoughts don’t change, the vocabulary and basic punctuation must be checked. In all your essays, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation must be in order. With time at hand, there is no reason why Universities would accept typo errors. Never underestimate the importance of punctuation in your essays or SOP.  




Source: Shiksha Study Abroad


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