One of the entry requirements to apply to any school is the SOP: Statement of Purpose. Your statement of purpose comes in handy when you are applying to study abroad, Master’s study programs, PhD programs and undergraduate programs. We cannot overrate its importance, this is why we have carefully written step-by-step procedures on how to write an amazing statement of purpose for undergraduates, Master’s and PhD programs.
In resonance, we have answered all the questions you ask about SOP. We hope to help you secure admission to your school of choice and not been declined because of a “bad SOP”.
Let’s polish that!
Introduction: What’s an SOP?
Abbreviated as SOP, a statement of purpose is one document required by universities during application. Like the name, it’s a long essay that states your purpose or reason for applying for a particular course in a particular university. In simple terms, the SOP answers the question “Why do you want to study this course with us (the university)”
An SOP tells the admission committee who you are, the stuff you’re made of academically, who you want to become and how ready you are to pursue your course of choice in their institution. This essay is going to introduce you in your absence, hence the essence of making it topnotch.
Your SOP reflects your personality. It portrays YOU in front of the admission committee (Adcom) before your interview in person. Your SOP is your chance of impressing the Adcom. You can only impress them if your profile is strong.
So think of the statement of purpose as an interview in written form read by a committee of highly intellectuals. Think of it as your gate pass to secure admission in a study abroad destination.
Why Do I need a Statement of Purpose?
Like earlier stated, you need an SOP to impress the Adcom of your school of choice. The SOP is the only document in your application requirements that gives you a chance to prove you are exceptional from the crowd.
You need an SOP because it’s the document that hugely determines your admission aside from the motivation letter.
Many other prospective students can be within the GPA, IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, ACT, SAT, and other score range same as you. The filter is the SOP; it serves as the distinguishing document between the needed and the wanted.
Who Needs an SOP?
They do not require the statement of purpose for every application. Majorly, the statement of purpose is for students who seek to study abroad either for undergraduates, Master’s or PhD programs.
If not required by your prospective school, we recommend you follow and put together the requirements they require.
How do I Write a Statement of Purpose?
This is where this post comes in handy. You need to know how to write an SOP, it’s your profile, you can write it well. So whether you are writing a statement of purpose for undergraduate, Master’s or PhD programs, here are some tips to write an impressive SOP
20 Tips to Write a Great SOP
- Do not “copy and paste”. 99% of SOP are copied, most are similar both in words and structure. Let your SOP be original, use your own words.
- Let your essay be engaging. Write stories, not statements.
- Your SOP should be precise and crisp. The Adcom would review many other SOPs, keeping it simple, convincing and unique is a plus.
- Highlight your uniqueness in this essay. Answer the question “Why should we admit you”
- Write in simple and clear English, no ambiguity.
- You’re not the only one applying. Find the right words. Avoid clichés and colloquials.
- You should show a high level of expertise in writing, no grammatical errors.
- Highlight your interest and goals. It will help them know you personally.
- Leverage your past events and victories to exfoliate your capabilities and areas of strength. Gear it towards a capability which you can leverage to contribute substantively to the university.
- Familiarise yourself with the university’s curriculum and reviews, it’s one way to say “I have already become a part of your institution, just fast track it” (Check out some of our School Reviews)
- Let your SOP centre on your course of application
- Your reason to study a selected course should clear and justified.
- Be clear on how you intend to contribute to the department and school at large.
- Do not brag. Being arrogant and overly confident will land your application into a trash can. Keep it simple, free and humble.
- The essay should be in sequence. The flow should be from your experience, present involvements, and future goals.
- Divide your essay into paragraphs. Each paragraph should cover all pointers.
- Customise your SOP. Use a good template so it doesn’t look like the regular.
- Use a formal yet conversational tone in your writing.
- Proofread again and again. Seek professional advice.
At http://academicrelated.com we believe there is nothing an expert advice cannot fix. These tips will guide you when writing your SOP. We do not limit a good SOP to the tips above, but these could serve as a good background to writing a compelling SOP.
Procedures on how to Write a Statement of Purpose
The strategy of writing a powerful statement of purpose would be to sound focused throughout the essay, be it for undergraduates, master’s, PhD, or post-graduate programmes. Carefully connect the dots of how studying in your choice of school will help you reach your goal.
Follow these steps to write a topnotch SOP
1st Paragraph: Introduction of SOP
This paragraph discusses what you are about to discuss in your SOP. You could approach this paragraph by talking about your long-term goal and connecting it with your intention of pursuing the course you are applying to. You could come from the standpoint of presenting your understanding of the chosen field and write how you want to contribute to that field. You could begin by writing about an anecdote that made you realise your professional interest in the chosen field.
Do not make the mistake of making this a self introductory part.
2nd and 3rd Paragraphs of SOP: Academic Background and Professional Experience
Present your academic background and qualifications. Talk extensively on what you’ve done so far, any current project your carrying out, academic strengths, industrial attachment or trainings. Remember, it should come in sequence, this makes your SOP look organized.
4th Paragraph: Why this Course?
This section answers the question “Why do you want to study this course”. For someone applying for Artificial intelligence, your reason for applying might be to help humanity think and produce faster and more efficient results via the use of artificial intelligence.
Also present your skills and the one you hope to gain in this duration.
5th Paragraph: Career Goals
Answering the question in the above paragraph, you should be able to connect it with your career goals and plans. This is actually the most important session of the SOP.
Discuss your short- and long-term goals. You should name some companies you see yourself working in. This should explain the job profile you would work on. Or if your are interested in further studies like Master’s or PhD, this is the place to state it.
If you desire to become a professor or researcher, you can also write it down here. portray how you plan to make a difference in your field of study and your contribution to emerging industries. Show how keen and industrious you are. Make them see that if they train you, you would become a valuable addition to any industry you find yourself.
Do this in moderation, do not brag about you and your skills.
6th Paragraph: Why This University?
Rate the school high as the only school that is suitable to train you. Add a few information you know about the school, course curricula, etc. You could talk about a notable alumnus of the university that has made an impact in today’s society and relate it to how they are the best in training exceptional students.
Express your readiness and desire towards being a part of the university. Talk about how eager you will face the challenges that might suffice. Sound focused and highly spirited. Also show that you have the zest in you to succeed and with the help of the chosen course and university you will definitely make a difference in the industry on a global perspective.
For Statement of purpose for undergraduates show reasons why you need this admission.
Questions you’re Expected to Answer in your SOP
Admission committee of your choice of university expects you to answer the following questions;
- What do you want to study at graduate school?
- Why do you want to study only this degree not something else?
- Why do you want to study at this college?
- Why did you choose us?
- Why did you choose to study in this country?
- How much and what kind of experience do you have in your field?
- If you are experienced, what additional skills are you planning to gain from the degree?
- What do you plan to do with your degree after graduation?
- Would you choose to get a job or be involved in research?
- Would you like to study or do research under any professor? If yes, who and why only them?
- How can you contribute to our university and our program?
- What specific skills do you bring to the table?
- Apart from work and education, what are your hobbies, interests, and habits?
- What do you understand about our student community and culture?
- Why do you think you will fit in?
Centre you SOP on these questions, you will catch the attention of the admission committee. This applies to statement of purpose for undergraduates too.
Mistakes to avoid when writing an SOP?
We have x-rayed the guidelines and measures to aid you write a good SOP. Avoid the following mistakes
- Do not start writing your essay in the last minute. Prepare on time. Get it ready months before sending in your application. This limits the chances of error.
- Avoid weak introduction and boring conclusions. First impression lasts long. Start with a good energy and end with a bouncer.
- Do not use colloquials, cliche and informal words. It’s formal, keep it real.
- Do not exceed the word limit. Most schools give a word range, stick to it.
- Do not dwell on your low GPA, scores and all. No one wants to admit a pessimist
- Do not lie.
- Avoid excessive flattery
- Do not include irrelevant information
- Ensure your essay is error free.
What’s the Difference between an Undergraduate SOP and Graduate SOP?
In writing a statement of purpose for undergraduates, put these into consideration;
- Your purpose of taking the program and the opportunities you wish to explore
- Your academic journey and accomplishments
- Extracurricular activities
- Motivation and career aspirations
- Assignments undertaken during studies
- Internships, if any
For statement of purpose for Master’s or PhD programs, consider these;
- Your short-term and long-term career and personal goals
- Evidence of professional achievements
- Anecdotes of teamwork, leadership and other corporate qualities
- Career expectations from the institutions
- Noteworthy projects undertaken at work
- Volunteer work, if any
Frequently Asked Questions About the SOP
Do I need to write my name on the SOP?
Simple but straight. The answer is No. No because your SOP is a part of a larger application. Writing your name would make your essay longer when you have a lot to write.
Do all SOPs come with the same format?
Writing formats for SOPs differ. An undergraduate SOP wouldn’t contain same information as a graduate SOP. Yes, they could be similar in content, but different in reason.
How long should an SOP be?
SOPs should not be over 1-2 pages long. Keep it really simple. We say this because the Adcom of any university gets over 50,000 applications, making it 50,000 SOPs to read. Don’t bore them with a lengthy essay. Be economical with your words.
Word range should be between 500-1000 word count.
What is the General Visual Format for Writing an SOP?
The format of writing an SOP is like other academic writings. Use the format below;
- 1.5 line spacing
- 1-inch margins on all sides
- 12 point Times New Roman font
Note: The visual format will not add a bonus point to you. It’s so it could loom presentable and able to read.
Your statement of purpose is your gate pass to secure admission to your school of choice. Statement of purpose for undergraduates, Master’s and PhD programs are similar but have a minor difference. We hope you found this piece enlightening.
We also recommend you read up Easy ways to write a motivational letter .