How to Write an SOP - A Guide for Students

SOP - A Guide for Students

  • Teachmint
    Teachmint

Statement of Purpose (SOP) is one aspect of the admissions process that many students are confused about. All other parts of the admission process are pretty straightforward, but this one is difficult as it has many subjective elements involved.

While writing an SOP, everyone is as clueless as you are, but we’ve got you covered. This article will tell you all you need to know about writing a successful SOP with a simple step-by-step guide.

What is an SOP?

An SOP or a Statement of Purpose is a letter/essay written to the admissions department of a college. It aims to provide a short overview of yourself, your work, your career, and your interest in applying to college. The SOP allows students to explain their interest in the said college/university and why they’re a perfect fit for the college. It is a great way to connect with the university and give your application a personal touch and stand out from the crowd.

Why is an SOP required?

SOP is the only document that helps the admissions department look at your personality beyond the grades and certificates. It helps them understand who you are and what your goals and values are. Mere great grades and excellent credentials are not enough to secure admission to a prestigious program. A well-crafted SOP will help the admissions department understand why the university is the best fit for you and how it meets your goals.

What is included in the SOP?

While there is no fixed format and things that need to be included in an SOP, generally, you should have the following aspects covered.

  1. Personal and financial background
  2. Educational background
  3. Short term goals
  4. Long term goals
  5. Work experience
  6. Co-curricular and extra-curricular activities
  7. Reasons for interest in the field
  8. Reasons for interest in the university

Make sure you only add the relevant experiences and goals, and don’t make the SOP a mere list of your achievements. Each aspect of your achievement must be pertinent to your story. For example, if you are applying for an economics degree, an internship in a different role like social media management may not be relevant. So make sure you pick and choose the right kind of achievements and other experiences to put in your SOP.

What is the format of an SOP?

There are no fixed rules on how to write an SOP. You can choose to write it in the format you prefer. However, having some structure helps the reader gauge the application better and makes it reader-friendly. Here’s a small guide to a suitable format:

  1. Introduction: This is a brief overview of your SOP. Give some details about yourself and why you’re applying to the course. You can also add all you will cover in the entire SOP.
  2. Background Information: Here, you can include an in-depth explanation of your background, including educational qualifications, work experience, other co-curricular, etc.
  3. Skills: In this section, you can elaborate on the skills you have developed through the experience gained. Please ensure these skills are relevant to the course you’re applying to and elaborate on how they help you pursue your career ahead. Additionally, you can also mention specific skills you wish to develop further and how the university/course will help you.
  4. Goals: This section is vital, do not skip this one. You don’t just have to mention your goals here; you must elaborate on why they are important to you and how you plan on achieving them. Be honest and truthful.
  5. University/Programme: This is one of the most critical sections of your SOP. This is where you communicate why you want to get admission into the university and how it will help you achieve your goals. You can even mention any faculty at the university that adds value to your learning.
  6. Conclusion: Here, you can conclude with all the pointers mentioned in the entire SOP. Add a powerful conclusion to leave the reader with a reasonable opinion about you and overall have a good time reading it.

How to write an SOP?

Step 1: List down all you wish to include in your SOP; your story, your achievements, all your past experiences etc.

Step 2: Create a rough structure and include all elements.

Step 3: Create the first draft.

Step 4: Edit the first draft. Remove the unnecessary information and change the structure to make it more reader-friendly. Take some time off between creating the first draft and editing so that you have time to give it a fresh perspective.

Step 5: Send for review. Get your SOP reviewed by others, and seek their opinion. Find alumni or students of the university to check it, as they will have a better perspective.

Step 6: Incorporate the changes and make the final draft.

Mistakes to avoid:

Here are some common mistakes that students must avoid while preparing an SOP

  1. Wrong information.
  2. Not reviewing the draft
  3. Avoiding grammar and spell checks
  4. Missing out on crucial details
  5. Emphasising certain aspects and not paying attention to others
  6. Exaggeration
  7. Excessive length: A good SOP should be around 800-1000 words (or as mentioned by the university)

Conclusion

Writing an SOP can seem daunting, but breaking it into simple steps can make it a cakewalk. You will go through multiple revisions and edits on your SOP, but don’t be disheartened; it is a part of the process. Follow these simple steps and start working on your SOP today! Let us know if you have any questions.