How to write a SOP or Statement of Purpose?
Graduation is a significant milestone in the lives of many people. In one way, you are concluding your journey full of memories and hope and in another way you are entering a new world full of excitement and challenges, like the quote above mentioned. But, let’s be real. If you are someone graduating you are probably busy preparing for the next challenge rather than celebrating your graduation. If the next step for you is higher studies in prominent colleges and universities abroad, you are likely to have a to-do list with tons of tasks. And on that to-do list you will find the words like SOP or motivational letter.
Just the moment you start thinking about entering grad school, a heavy downpour of essays will fall before you. And yes, SOP is another essay submission task required by your targeted grad school. Now, without further ado, let’s get introduced to this task.
What is SOP?
In short, a Statement of Purpose can be called a SOP or sometimes letter of intent or motivation letter. It is a short essay where you need to convince your desired university, why you are the best fit for the program or course that you applied for. It highlights not only your experiences, achievement and background but also your goals and purpose. your personality and your professional goals should prioritise in writing SOP.
Why is SOP so important in your admission process?
For the admission committee, you are just some anonymous applicant whom they do not know personally and for higher studies abroad the casual meet and greet is simply unfeasible. So, SOP makes an introduction of yourself on your behalf and lets the admission committee draw a picture about yourself and how you would fit into their grad school and program.
Needless to say, your statement of purpose carries a significant influence in the decision making process of your application. It enables the admissions committee in determining your outlook on life, job objectives, beliefs, academic competence, and vision. It’s your chance to tell the committee why you’re the best candidate for the job and why they should pick you above the others.
SOP vs. Personal Statement vs. motivational Letter
While applying, you must focus on the requirements of the school. The essay may be referred to by different terms at different schools. It can be confusing for students about the similarity or the difference of these terms. SO. Let’s break it down.
Motivational Letter is the exact same thing as a statement of purpose. It’s merely a more formal way of saying the same thing. In general, European universities (Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, and so on) require a motivation letter.
So, is personal statement and SOP also the same thing with different terms?
Statement of purpose is much similar to a cover letter. It is a bridge which connects your past self and your goals which you sought in that particular school or program. You may begin with a personal or anecdotal statement, but the focus of the essay must be about your relevant training and technical career goals. The SOP is used by the admission counsellors to decide whether you’re a right fit for that program/school. SOP is required by grad school mostly sometimes along with a personal statement and resume as well.
Personal statement is like a bio. It talks about your background, past experiences, personal history, and volunteering participation. You may also mention your interests. It is typically used by the admission office to figure out whether you fit into their student community. Personal Statement is generally required by undergrad admissions.
Now the confusing cloud has been cleared up, let’s drive our attention to how to write an impressive SOP.
Brainstorm – there is no hard and fast rule or procedure to write down a SOP. But, that doesn’t mean you just open a doc file and start writing. You need to think out and plan your strategy to make your essay stand out. Jot down your core ideas, your points and achievements you want to mention.
Answer these questions– After analysing your purpose of SOP, the admission committee will understand your goal. To navigate this, they would expect some answers from you. So, before starting to draft, you need to ask yourself a few questions and arrange these answers that you want to put down. A few questions can be_
- What motivates you to apply for this course?
- Why did you choose a particular country, university or program?
- What sets you apart from the rest of the candidates?
- How do you think you would be a good fit for the university you’re applying to?
- What activities have you engaged in that demonstrate your interest in the course for which you are applying?
- How can you demonstrate your enthusiasm about your study and have something to contribute to the university?
(Pro tip: You can take help from google for information on these questions but seek these answers from your innate self and write down with personal touch. Don’t give any diplomatic answers which everyone might use.)
Outlining and formatting– Amassing your scatters thoughts and arranging them in a few pages can be daunting. So, you need to organise your strategy. What information you want to mention, how many paragraphs are you going to write, how do you want to start , you need to figure out these before jumping on the writing part.
First Paragraph – Introduction
A good morning is the most important for starting a good day. Likewise, introduction is the most important part of your essay. The introduction has to be interesting, intriguing and thought-provoking. Briefly mention your background and connect a dot between that and your motivation for applying.
(Pro tip: Read out samples you can find in google and exclude these from your essays. Chances are the admission committee are fed up reading those cliché introductions.)
Second paragraph – Your undergrad percentage/CGPA will also make an impact on your SOP (make sure the achievement is significant, otherwise don’t). Also, do mention about your present subject (as part of your Master’s Degree) and express them as a new dimension to your interest. Explain about your publications, internships for betterment.
Third paragraph– This is indeed a very important paragraph. Express your previous work at university in terms of Research work, Labs, Faculty, and current Projects. You’ve to give answer to three primary questions in this paragraph –
- Why have you decided to choose that particular country or state?
- Why have you chosen this course and university?
- What attracted you to the university?
Fourth paragraph– Explain about your short term and long term goal, where you see yourself some years down the line. Express the content in this paragraph pretty well. Connect the dot about your goals and the course you are aiming for.
Last Paragraph– At last , make a 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.
Post writing Stage
Evaluate Revise and Revision – Read out your writing as many times as you want. Don’t hesitate to use some GRE vocabulary and make sure it doesn’t sound unnatural and rigid. Make changes in some sentence structures if it is necessary. Do a grammar check. You can give this to some experts to give it a read and point out some improvements.
Formatting – For a standard SOP is usually 800-1000 words long with 2 pages is appropriate. Use a max 12-point font and double spaced in normal margins.
- Don’t use google samples.
- Don’t send out one SOP for all the universities you applied for.
- Don’t make it too academic.
- Don’t rely on your agency for this.
While writing your SOP remember that you’re trying to convince the admission committee that you’d be an asset to their program and that you have the potential to succeed as their graduate student. It carries the same value as your IELTS, GRE scores. So, Do not underestimate this and bring out your writing angel for an impressive statement of purpose.
If you any help to review your SOP then you can reach Amaar School, we have a dedicated team who can cooperate you to write an outstanding SOP.
Faria Jahin Auntara
Depertment Of Law at University of Dhaka