18 Writing tips for an Effective SOP

sop writing tips

Students who wish to pursue higher studies in the USA are required to submit a Statement of Purpose. It is a 500-700 words long application essay in which the applicant is required to demonstrate why he/she is a perfect candidate for the course. Here are a few tips to write an effective SOP.

Learn to write an effective Statement of Purpose

  1. The introductory paragraph should be strong as it is the first and foremost thing that is read by the admission committee. Avoid cliché statements, such as, ‘I love this field’, ‘it is the place I will be challenged’ or ‘this program will hone my skills’. Instead, be unique in your expression of aspirations and expectations.
  2. Narrate an event/experience or a story that encouraged you to apply for the particular course. Stories are remembered by the admission committees even after reading 1000 applications. Be specific and use vivid language.
  3. Write a story only if you have one to tell; do not create anything just for the sake of it.
  4. Demonstrate your preparedness for the program by listing what have you done so far in the field and how it has prepared you.
  5. Address your problems. For instance, if you had any gap year in your career or any problem during your academic year, you can mention about it. The important part is – how you overcome the situation and what have you learnt from it.
  6. Demonstrate that you know the university well. List down all the things you like about the university. Avoid generic statements, like ‘I like your university because of number of Nobel Prize winners’ or ‘your research lab is what impressed me’. . Instead, you could write-

“I especially want to work under ‘professor name’, as I have been an admirer and avid follower of his work in the ‘field chosen’.”

  1. A line or two about your future goals is a must. For example:

“I intend to pursue master’s in the field and I feel that this program will make me uniquely suited for it.”

  1. Mention your academic accomplishments and also about projects undertaken (if any). Again, do not elaborate much, just two lines would suffice.
  2. Include extra-curricular activities that showcase your communication skills, leadership qualities, team work and ability to work hard.
  3. End your SOP on a positive note. For example:

“I strongly feel that the university’s ‘course’ with its rich blend of award-winning faculty, intense curriculum and state-of-the-art facilities would be an ideal place to shape my career.”

  1. The language should be easy to understand, with no flowery words. Be succinct and explain your goals and love for the course. Brevity and clarity is the key to SOP success.
  2. Be honest and be yourself!
  3.  Customize your essay; never send one essay template to all the universities. Each university is different, with their own vision, methodologies, cultures, values and mottos, so craft your essay keeping in mind the characteristics that define that university.
  4. Use a conversational tone, albeit in a formal way. No casual language.
  5. Occasional humour is acceptable, but do not overdo it. Try not to sound too smart or too funny.
  6. Proofread your SOP, take opinions from teachers, friends or family and keep editing it until you get it perfect. Consistence, style and accuracy must be maintained throughout. No typos or misplaced commas, please!
  7. Do try to keep the SOP under a page.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
  • Enter your email address