Common mistakes to avoid while writing SOP

while writing sop

The SOP (Statement of Purpose) consists of the summary of a student’s academic and professional accomplishments and hence serves as one of the main parameters that determine the admission of an applicant. Crafting this important document can be a bit daunting, but fret not! We’ve listed five mistakes to avoid on your SOP. Just keep these pointers in mind and you will be able to write a winning SOP!

Usage of Informal language

The Statement of Purpose is an important document that represents you, so the use of informal language, obscure terminology and jargons is a strict no. Your SOP will be reviewed by an esteemed academic panel, so keep the language formal and polite and make correct use of grammar, syntax and vocabulary.  And, do not use esoteric words or complex sentences that do little to convey your point clearly; instead use simple and effective words.

A weak Introduction and conclusion

Introduction and conclusion are the main parts of your SOP. The introduction is the foremost thing that will be read by anyone, so it should have an intriguing appeal that arouses curiosity of the reader and impels him/her to further read through. Similarly, the conclusion is the last thing the reader will read and it tends to stick to his/her memory. You can conclude by stating your expectations from the university/college and how you can contribute to the university. Be realistic!

Baseless claims and incorrect information

An SOP that blatantly states “I’m an innovator, creative thinker” or “I’m hardworking and highly motivated person” without any facts to back these claims does more damage than benefit. Avoid using such sweeping statements if you do not have an evidence to back up them. If you’re using such phrases, give specific examples that provide a concrete proof. For example: while mentioning that You helped to raise funds for events/community, state how you did it in a line or two – this statement would indicate your traits like commitment, a sense of social responsibility, and creative thinking. Don’t overuse ‘adjectives’ to prove your point; write 1-2 lines with sufficient evidence to your claim and that would suffice.

Honesty and originality are the key to a winning SOP. Remember, every piece of information written on your SOP is verified so avoid exaggerating facts or providing false information. Also, do not copy essays from books or the internet. Be honest and original!

Stressing a lot on your low GPA or Standardized test score

Making excuses or justification for weak scores or GPA definitely weakens your application. Instead, talk about them, but in a way to demonstrate that you have the ability to overcome and embrace the failure and, more importantly, highlight your learning from it.  If you have a legitimate reason for weak academic performance, like ill-health, added responsibilities of family, etc., mention them with how you used this hurdle to find your strength.

Some basics mistakes to avoid

Not editing and proofreading: Submitting the SOP without proofreading is your biggest mistake. Check for spellings, grammar, punctuations, sentence flow, consistency, and plagiarism. Re-read at least twice before submitting.

Irrelevant information: The statement of purpose is about ‘you’, not your family background or financial conditions so completely avoid such information as it holds no relevance whatsoever.

Exceeding the word limit: There are plenty of applications to review and if you exceed the word limit, which is 500-1000 words, it automatically puts off the reader. It is highly advisable to stick to the word limit and not digress from the main point – that is, you and your academic highlights!

Working on last minute: As aforementioned, SOP is a vital component of the application, so avoid working on it last minute. It definitely requires a couple of iterations and this process will take time, at least 3-4 weeks.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
  • Enter your email address