SOP Tips and Format

A great essay tends to share the story of your life. It educates the admission committee about the experiences from which you have learned valuable lessons. It tells them what your thought processes are like. It displays how you prioritize things & make important decisions & gives a glimpse into your personal life. In totality, an essay should be a colorful & interesting depiction through which should paint an image in the minds of the readers and make them remember you as that person, who stands out.

Writing the Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose should convince the faculty on the selection committee– that you have solid achievements behind you that show promise for your success in your future endeavors.

Think of the statement of purpose as a composition with four different parts:


Part 1: Introduce yourself, your interests and motivations

Tell them what you’re interested in, and perhaps, what sparked your desire for choosing the course. This should be short and to the point; don’t spend a great deal of time on autobiography.

Part 2: Summarize your undergraduate and previous graduate career

Very important thing to understand over here is that, out of many, you want to highlight only those that support your aim and stance you have in your SOP. For instance, a future MBA wouldn’t want to highlight his technical learnings from his research, rather would want to highlight learnings such as leadership, team management, integrity, etc.

  • Research you conducted. Indicate with whom, the title of the project, what your responsibilities were, and the outcome. Write technically, or in the style of your discipline. Professors are the people who read these statements
  • Important paper or thesis project you completed, as well as anything scholarly beyond your curricular requirements
  • Work experience, especially if you had any kind of responsibility for testing, designing, researching or interning in an area similar to what you wish to study in graduate school

Part 3: Discuss the relevance of your recent and current activities

If you graduated and worked prior to returning to grad school, indicate what you’ve been doing: company or non-profit, your work/design team, responsibilities, what you learned. You can also indicate here how this helped you focus on your graduate studies.

Part 4: Elaborate on your academic interests

Here you indicate what you would like to study in graduate school in enough detail to convince the faculty that you understand the course and how will it help you attain your life goals. Check the specific program thoroughly and align your last paragraph on the same lines. End your statement in a positive manner, indicating your excitement and readiness for the challenges ahead of you.


Essential Tips

  • What the admissions committee will read between the lines: self-motivation, competence, potential as a graduate student
  • Emphasize everything from a positive perspective and write in an active, not a passive voice
  • Demonstrate everything by example; don’t say directly that you’re a persistent person, show it
  • If there is something important that happened to you that affected your grades, such as poverty, illness, or excessive work, state it. Write it affirmatively, showing your perseverance despite obstacles. You can elaborate more in your personal statement
  • Make sure everything is linked with continuity and focus
  • Unless the specific program says otherwise, be concise; an ideal essay should say everything it needs to with brevity. Approximately 500 to 1000 well-selected words (1-2 single space pages in 12-point font) is better than more words with less clarity and poor organization