SOP Practice tips and cheat sheet
SOP is a reflection of the personality you want to present before the university admission committee. With a compelling essay, you can impress the management into giving you an admission into the institution of your choice. How to write an impressive SOP?
What is SOP?
SOP or Statement of Purpose is a fundamental part of the admission process into an international institution. Students use an SOP to showcase their interests and strengths before the authorities. An alluring SOP ensures that the admission committee contemplates the student’s admission.
The process of writing an SOP differs based on the rules and regulations of each country. Australian and New Zealand universities will require the student's SOP only during the visa process. The UK, USA, and Canadian universities require it during admissions.
What to keep in mind while writing an SOP?
If you want to study at a university abroad, you must keep the following points in mind:
● Competition is high amongst international students. You will be up against thousands of students from all over the world.
● Academic records, exam scorecards, academic transcripts, and backlog certificates are important, but they are essentially objective in nature. Having good marks alone need not guarantee you your seat because you must convince the university authorities that they should admit you.
There are cases where students with good grades and letters of recommendation were rejected because of a badly written SOP. A persuasive SOP is the subjective aspect of the admission that projects your uniqueness.
● Be truthful in your SOP. Avoid making someone else write it for you because it’s imperative that you present your true self.
Is there a format for writing an SOP?
There is no specific format as such for an SOP. A well-written SOP is an elaborative and descriptive English essay where the whole context is divided into different paragraphs. Each paragraph should have the following:
▪ Brief introduction about yourself.
▪ Your background.
▪ Your long-term goals or vision.
▪ Why did you choose this university and the course?
▪ Academic background.
▪ Professional experience (include it only it is essential).
▪ Academic achievements (grades, ranks)
▪ Academic recognition.
▪ Projects you undertook.
▪ Professional achievements or industrial exposure (if any).
▪ Mention in detail why do you want to study this course at the university.
▪ Discuss in detail about your goals, ambitions, and future expectations.
▪ Where do you see yourself after you graduate from the university or college of your choice?
▪ Discuss your career plans and goals.
▪ Mention in detail what you intend to gain from the university and the program you chose (different departments, university activities, recognition, faculty, environment, infrastructure, the methodology adopted, etc.)
▪ Mention all the community service, charity work, interests, social clubs, hobbies, sports, etc. that you have participated in. Write about your passions and hobbies.
▪ Write a brief but effective conclusion.
Quick practice tips to help you write an effective SOP
▪ Pen down a couple of drafts.
▪ Read, edit, re-edit and then work on the final draft.
▪ Academic credentials should be mentioned truthfully.
▪ Give out compelling reasons why you chose this program, country, and university.
▪ Avoid making vague statements. Instead, talk about the academic brilliance with expository examples.
▪ Write about your future goals and ambitions, whether it is higher studies or a job. You should mention what you intend to gain from this university.
▪ If the university mentioned a word count, then stick to it. The Word count shouldn't be greater or less than that.
▪ Select a readable font type and size. Don't go for anything too stylish.
▪ Use simple and straightforward language. Avoid using complicated sentences.
▪ Avoid repetitive sentences in between paragraphs. Your SOP shouldn't give the impression that you are begging for an admission.
▪ Read and re-read the essay. Check for possible grammar and spelling mistakes.
▪ Check for plagiarism because universities tend to be extra cautious about that.
What do universities look for in an SOP?
An effective SOP is as good as gaining good marks in an entrance exam. Universities ask for an SOP primarily to check the writings skills of the applicant. They will want to know if the applicant is truthful about their aims, ambitions, and what they intend to gain from their education
As mentioned before, thousands of students from around the world will be competing to enter the university. The admission committee will be looking for the kind of uniqueness that makes a student stand out in a large crowd. They will look for such a personality through thoughts and ideas mentioned by the student.
Colleges and universities will prioritize factors like:
▪ Candidate’s talent.
▪ Candidate's previous experiences.
▪ Their hobbies, passion, and interests.
▪ Candidate's potential.
▪ How well the candidate can contribute to the department.
▪ What motivated the candidate to select a particular course.
▪ Reasons why the candidate chose the university or college.
▪ Extracurricular achievements and recognitions (if any).
▪ Candidate’s academic excellence.
▪ Community service or charity works.
They will expect the candidate to present the SOP with utmost clarity and respect.
Here's a cheat sheet that will help you write an effective SOP
⮚ When you write an SOP use a formal but in a conversational tone. It shouldn't be "too friendly" or "too formal." In simple words, your essay should neither look like a letter to a friend nor a letter to the military.
⮚ Your essay shouldn't be generic or monotonous. Write it in the form of a story instead of a statement. Quantify your story with compelling lines. For example, if you have an experience as a teacher then talk about how well your students scored under your tutelage.
⮚ Be specific about your aims, career goals, and ambitions. Write down a few points to convince them why you are different from other kids and should be admitted to the university. Don't write anything negative about others, just focus on your positives.
⮚ Are you applying to more than one university? Then your SOP to each university should be unique. Don't make the horrifying mistake of using the same SOP for all of them. Remember, there could be specific instructions given by each university.
⮚ So read the rules, regulations, and other details about all the universities you are applying to thoroughly.
⮚ Keep in mind the factors such as cultures, methodologies, visions, values, motto, strengths, and weaknesses.
⮚ Also remember, admission officers, are expert psychologists who can make out a true applicant from a false applicant with just a single reading.
⮚ If you have any problems, don't hesitate in addressing them. Point out the actual reasons that led to the problems and mention how you overcame them. Don't try to be defensive.
⮚ Talk to a college professor about how to write an effective SOP.
⮚ Your SOP should be organised well into paragraphs. A powerful introduction can help in gaining the admission committee's attention.
⮚ Don't submit the essay until and unless you have edited and proofread it thoroughly.
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