What is an SoP?
A Statement of Purpose or an SoP is one of the primary prerequisites for joining any foreign university. An SoP, usually written in about 1000 words, is the applicant’s introduction addressed to a University Selection Board, on his/her background,deep interests and objectives related to the field/course that he/she wishes to pursue.
What should you convey in your SoP?
A well-written Statement of Purpose is extremely critical to your admission. Effectively, an SoP should cover the reasons for: Why you aim to continue with the subject or change your field of interest and Why you are interested in the university in particular. It should also include any experience that you may have gained which will prove how your admission will be valuable to the university. Here, you have to think about the potential contributions that you can make to the institution.
Arrest the Attention of the Selection Panel
It is true that an impressive SoP increases the chances of bagging your dream-admit. The key to it lies in its presentation. A good SoP has to be split into varied parts so as to increase its readability. Following are some steps to build your SoP and make it more legible and clear:
- High school & Undergraduate work
- The ‘Middle & Key’ paragraph
- Accounts on internship/work experience
- Why XYZ university?
A good introduction paragraph is the one in which the field and specialization that you intend to pursue is clearly stated. You can lead with information that is relevant to your field. Some of the key points that you should keep in mind are:
- Be honest
- Do not make up an anecdote
- Avoid sentimentality
(Watch the recording of our recent webinar on “How to write a winning SoP” to have a look at the examples of a good and a bad introduction paragraph.)
High school & Undergraduate Education.
In this section, you have to brief about your undergraduate course and relevant co-curricular activities. At this juncture, you need to be mindful of the fact that it is NOT your resume that you are filling in where the complete details of your college and course will be covered. Communicating more than the mere factual details will help you win an edge over the other SoPs
The ‘Middle & Key’ Paragraph
The middle paragraph is the integral part of your SoP. The Board reaching upto this point of your SoP is a success of your well-constructed introduction and educational details and it is important that you keep up the flow. The middle paragraph is the key portion because it should ideally convey the meaty part of your profile. In this part you should:
- Describe your personal/professional development as an undergraduate student.
- Briefly summarize any thesis or project work.
- Mention the title, any co-researchers, your responsibilities and outcome, and how you would like to extend this research work in future
- Write for a technical audience i.e. for the experts in your field.
- MUST demonstrate your academic qualifications.
Account of Your Internship/Work experience
The details of your Internship or Work experience also can work in your favour to win a successful admit. In this part:
- Discuss the nature of your work/internship, providing the details of your responsibilities.
- Explain clearly in what ways your work experience has better prepared you for the grad school
- Describe the unique skills imparted that differentiate you from other prospective applicants.
- Share your understanding about your abilities/interests that may serve you well in the grad school.
Why XYZ university?
A good closure is as important as a fine introduction. The University Board might show a keen interest to know why you are the right candidate to win an admit and not your fellow applicant. Before writing the final part, you could do some preparatory work like:
- Do your research on the target program
- Learn about the kind of research undertaken in the particular university.
- Identify Professors of Interest and Read a few journal articles
While assimilating these details into your final paragraph, you should also:
- Demonstrate your knowledge of current research at the department.
- Use these paragraphs to stake out the research interests of the department in some detail, even pose one or two tentative research questions.
Watch the video here to learn about writing an SoP that can make you a stand-out.