What is a statement of purpose? And how do you write a strong Statement Of Purpose?
During your application process to a university or scholarship to study abroad, you will be required to submit a list of documents for assessment. Amongst these documents is the statement of purpose which helps you create a strong application and boost your admission chances. The single most important thing you can do for your application is to write your statement of purpose effectively.
When writing your statement of purpose, or SOP, there are key factors to watch out for and steps to follow to make your application stand out from others.
In this article, you’ll learn how to:
- Write a strong statement of purpose
- Things to do before writing a statement of purpose
- Guidelines for writing a strong statement of purpose
- Tips for writing a statement of purpose
- How to edit your statement of purpose
What is a statement of purpose?
A statement of purpose is an application essay, written by a prospective student to an admission committee to explain your motivation, skills, and career goals which qualifies you for the admission spot.
Simply put, amongst the application documents, the statement of purpose gives the admission board an insight into who you are, your background, interests, and additional information not included in your cv. The main idea of this document is that it should convince authorities about your desire to study at their university. This means that the statement of purpose should not sound like a list of demands but rather like a request written to convince an admissions committee that you are a great fit for the program.
For most universities, the statement of purpose is an elimination process to determine if you are the best fit for a program. For research-based programs like masters or Ph.D., the SOP focuses on research experience, area of experience, and work experience. With the statement of purpose, the admission board can easily decide if your area of interest, and past experiences, fits into what the program is looking for.
What do colleges look for in an SOP?
- A motivated spirit: Your motivation to study a course should be reflected in your statement of purpose. An admission board wants to see that you are excited about the program and will put in your best if accepted into the program. Your motivation should be evident, avoid bragging and statements that make you sound arrogant.
- Good grammar: The admission board looks for a good command of the English language, and how well you write. From a poorly-written SOP, the admission board can easily conclude that a candidate is lazy, and will not take work seriously when accepted into the program. Try as much as possible to avoid any grammatical errors or blunders in your SOP.
- Past experiences: How your past experiences and skills contribute to the department and the research you are interested in. You must mention how these skills benefit the course, and what you bring to the table if admitted.
- Your unique personality: Highlight our unique personality and what makes you stand out. Remember that the reader of your statement of purpose is human, and must be able to separate your unique voice from other applicants.
How long should a statement of purpose be?
A statement of purpose can be 1-2 pages, with 500 -1000 words. This length varies by university requirements and type of program.
Some universities state how they want a statement of purpose to be written, with instructions on font type, pattern of writing, and questions to answer within the SOP. If these outlines are stated in the application requirements, then ensure you follow all instructions strictly.
Use a readable font 12pt, double-spaced, with good spacing between each paragraph. Keep your statement of purpose to about 5 paragraphs, 6 at most. It’s best to keep the statement of purpose short and easy to read.
How to write a strong statement of purpose for graduate admission
Writing a statement of purpose for an undergraduate admission differs from writing for a graduate school. This is because admission requirements differ, and with the graduate school application, there’s higher competition, and more requirements needed to create an impression.
Before you write your statement of purpose,
- Set a goal: Write down the goal for the statement of purpose, what you intend to achieve, and the type of message you wish to communicate to the reader
- Read about the school: Carefully look through the school and the department you wish to apply to. Go through the profiles of each lecturer and if you find anything interesting, take note of it.
- Research the professors and their works: If you find a professor you wish to work with, research their works and draft out why you would like to work with the professor.
- Understand the problem statement of your proposal topic: Draft out the problem you are interested in, and what you find so fascinating about the topic.
When you have this information written down, you can start writing your SOP.
Format for undergraduate admission
Paragraph 1- Introduce yourself
The first paragraph is to introduce yourself and give a brief overview of who you are, why you choose the school above other options. Hook your reader in the first paragraph by highlighting your motivation and a little of your background.
Paragraph 2- Talk about the program
Why are you applying for the program? What motivated you to choose this particular course of study? If you have an experience that motivates your choice of study, mention it. However, you must express sincere interest in the course.
Paragraph 3- Talk about your academic achievements
Your academic achievement is an important part of your statement of purpose. Don’t just list out your good grades, mention how you achieved them. If you study extra hard, every day, mention it. Your results can be seen in the transcripts submitted. What you need to do is to convince the admission board that you take your education seriously.
Paragraph 4- Include Extracurricular activities
Include extracurricular activities that add value to your personality. You must have included some of these activities in your cv or resume, however, you should go into detail, to explain them in your SOP. Talk about your achievements, little or big, and how it makes you a better candidate for the program.
Don’t forget to:
- Tailor each SOP to every university. Every university and admission board is different and provides a different list of instructions and questions to answer in your SOP.
- You must sound genuine, and avoid bragging.
- Go straight to the point. Avoid mentioning details about your background that do not strengthen your application.
- Write, rewrite and edit for grammatical blunders.
Format for graduate school admission
Paragraph 1- Introduce yourself
The first statement must be short, concise, and well-written.
Start by writing and introducing yourself, your interests, and your motivations. Your aim is to grab and keep the attention of the reader long enough to keep reading your statement of purpose. You could tell a short story or a short bio about what sparked your desire for the course of study. Don’t go too deep talking about yourself, or your background. What you should do is to connect who you are to the course of study you are interested in.
Paragraph 2- Summarize your academic career
Talk about your area of study. What interests you in your course of study?
If you have previous research experience, give a brief overview of the research conducted. Include the project title, who the research was conducted with and the result of the research carried out.
Paragraph 3- Mention relevant work experiences and your responsibilities
Talk about your work experiences, intern or volunteer position with interest similar to what you wish to study in graduate school. Highlight the relevance of your work experience to the study, and how it helped you develop in your field.
If you work with a company, mention the names of the company, your employer, the responsibilities you handled, results, and your input to boost the workplace.
Paragraph 4- Discuss your academic interests
Go into details about what you would like to study in graduate school. Explain in detail that you understand the scope of research carried out in the area of study. Preferably, you can define a problem you are interested in solving, ask a question or indicate an area you would like to further research.
If you have a professor with an area of research similar to yours, indicate it. Research professors, you wish to work within the department and include their works and how you found them insightful.
In this paragraph, you can also connect academic and technical interests to your future academic goals. Mention the future you see for yourself in the field and state your short and long-term goals after you graduate.
Paragrapgh 5- Conclusion
End on a positive note. Thank the reader, and praise the program and the school. Indicate your excitement to join the program and what you would look forward to contributing to the program.
Tips for writing a statement of purpose that stands out.
- Follow instructions stated in the admission requirements and submission format.
- Show don’t tell. Demonstrate achievements and experiences with examples.
- Be concise, don’t speak vaguely about your research statements or accomplishments.
- Be specific about your goals and how you intend to achieve them.
- Write in an active voice.
- Highlight your strong points in education or professional experience, and connect them to how they can help the program.
- Express your interest in the program.
How to edit your statement of purpose
- Take your time editing: A statement of purpose deserves an ample amount of time dedicated to research and writing.
- Write, and rewrite your statement of purpose till you get a good one.
- Look out for grammatical errors: Use writing editors like Grammarly, ProWritting aid grammar checker to correct all grammatical errors.
- Remove unnecessary sentences that do not strengthen, or support your statement of purpose.
- Do not plagiarize: Make sure to run your SOP through a plagiarism checker before you submit it.
- Hire professional editors to help you tailor your SOP.
Statement of purpose vs personal statement: What’s the difference?
You must have heard of statement of purpose and personal statement used interchangeably in applications. This is because they mean the same thing. The statement of purpose and statement personal statement contains the same information.
Writing a good statement of purpose in your application can make your application strong. That is why you should take your time while writing and ensure you follow instructions. Don’t forget to keep it short, interesting, and to the point, omitting all sorts of background history that would turn off the attention of the reader. To avoid automatic disqualification, follow instructions listed out by the admission board in the application requirements. Show your strong experience, and discuss what motivates you. For graduate school statement of purpose, research every lecturer thoroughly, and don’t forget to talk about any of their works that you follow.
Having your SOP written by professionals can make the difference between a strong statement of purpose and an average one. A well-written statement of purpose is your one shot at getting your foot through the door and impressing the academic board going through your application. That is why you want to make sure you write, and thoroughly edit your statement of purpose.
Our team of trained professionals can help you write a very strong statement of purpose. A well-written statement of purpose can make all the difference better a letter of rejection and a letter of admission. That is why at Global Education Systems, we pay attention to key details to highlight your strengths
Statement of purpose FAQ
Should I talk about my low grades in my SOP?
If you graduated with a low grade in your undergraduate, you should try as much as possible to avoid mentioning it. This is because it discourages the reader from thinking you are the right candidate for the program. An SOP helps to show your strong suit.
However, if you have a concrete reason for your low grades, for example, a poor education system in your country, then you should mention that in your SOP. But, you must immediately justify your strong suits, and how this challenge makes you a better choice for the program.
Should I include my name on my statement of purpose?
You don’t have to include your name on the SOP. The SOP is part of your application profile which has your name and course of study by default. However, if the university you are applying to mentions the need for it, then you must follow instructions and insert your name where it is specified.
Can SOP help with my scholarship?
If you are applying for a scholarship, then you will be required to submit an essay. This essay could either be a set of questions/prompts or your statement of purpose stating the reasons why you think you are better suited for the scholarship than the other applicants.
In a scholarship essay, you have to strongly sell yourself, show your skills and major accomplishments which makes you the best choice. A scholarship essay is always shorter than a statement of purpose. It could contain similar information but scholarship essays usually answer questions given by the scholarship board.
How do I write a Perfect SOP?
Do a lot of research before you start writing. When you have completed your research, follow instructions to outline your statement of purpose and write a first draft. Then, do some more research before editing your work. Ensure all details provided in your SOP are accurate to avoid an automatic disqualification.