Common Mistakes to Avoid in SOP

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What is a Statement of Purpose?

A Statement of Purpose (SOP) also known as a research statement is a short essay that prospective students write while applying to a respective university. This essay talks about your interests, professional achievements, ambitions and the driving force behind pursuing a specific program from a particular university. The essay is usually about a page long and is about 800-1000 words long.

The SOP is used by the admission panel, alongside your academic profiles to decide if you should be selected for a degree course. Therefore it can be considered as the decision maker of your application. A well written SOP will help the admission committee evaluate your subject knowledge, vision and career goals, hence painting your overall personality for the universities.

It is an opportunity to highlight your purpose for the particular program and why they should consider you over other applicants. A well written SOP can highlight your thoughts using your writing skills. It can also compensate for your weak academic scores. This is the reason why the SOP can either make or break your chances at an acceptance letter.

This blog throws light on some of the most common mistakes to avoid for an exceptionally well written SOP.  Read On!

1. Avoid a Dull Introduction and a Conclusion

‘The first impression is the last impression’. Thus, the introduction to your SOP is expected to be impactful as this is the first thing a reader reads in an essay. Make the introduction paragraph interesting and attractive to hold the reader’s attention.   

You can use a quote as the opening lines of your essay. Do not embellish the essay with too much self introduction. A powerful line with a proper summary of your academic experience and your vision will highlight your passion and confidence. This in turn will ensure that the reader reads through your entire essay.  

Similarly the ending lines of your essay matters too. Mention your expectations from the university and in what ways you wish to contribute to the university. The way you end your essay is the last thing your reader wants to take away from the essay.

Make sure your introduction and conclusion of your essay are on the same note to avoid the reader from disconnecting.

 2. Plan your SOP early

It is mandatory for every prospective student to submit his/her SOP to their respective universities.Therefore, spending a few hours for an effective SOP is not enough. Give yourself a few weeks before it has to be submitted to the respective universities. Utilize this time to brainstorm ideas and study sample SOPs.

Studying enough sample SOPs will teach you the pattern of SOP creation. Also, try to write it down in your own words rather than taking it from any other source.

Practice writing as many rough SOP drafts as you need with improvements on each draft. Remember that the SOP is a product of patience and planning.

3. Avoid Exaggeration

Keep your SOP honest and to the point without lying about your achievements. Write about your academic and professional achievements but remember to not boast about them.

Over exaggeration of your essay will create a bad impression about you. The admission committee may even get in touch with your educational or professional mentor to verify your claims about your achievements. Therefore stick to humbleness and create an impression of a polite and ambitious person rather than an over confident and arrogant one. 

4. Avoid exceeding the word limit

If you are not sure about the word limit for your SOP essay, coordinate with the university committee for the same. Otherwise the ideal word limit for any given generic SOP is between 800- 1000 words. Try to write on point about your passions and interests, achievements, your vision and expectations from the university.

A lengthy essay will put off the readers who have limited time to go through your essay. To make your essay strikeout, focus on keeping your essay clean and crisp with only the necessary information.

Please note that if you do not have much to write about your achievements, focus on writing your goals and industrial trends with facts and figures.

5. Avoid Depending too much on external help

In order to avoid confusion regarding a great SOP, try getting help from a subject matter expert instead of relying on someone who is clueless about the entire topic. A professional instructor knows the nuances of an exceptionally well written essay. He could guide you in knowing what to include in your SOP and what not to include. They can support you in presenting your academic strengths and professional desires strongly.

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6. Don’t forget to Proofread

Make sure you read your essay twice for any grammatical errors, vocabulary, spelling mistakes. Your essay has to be free from any errors before submitting. Any kind of flaw will create an impression of an unworthy SOP and might be a major reason for your application to get cancelled. You can take help from someone else to proofread your essay.

7. Avoid Using an informal style of writing

You are advised to stick to a formal style for writing your SOP. The readers expect a professional essay and anything short of it might be considered a reason for cancelling your application.

Using informal language, abbreviations and jargons are a strict no –no for maintaining the standards of a good essay. Maintain a polite and respectful style of writing your SOP to make it stand out among other SOPs.

8. Not conducting proper research

Your SOP should portray your passion for studying in your dream university. A thorough research on aspects like university course curriculum, college faculties, campus facilities, internships and job opportunities might highlight your essay as a focused one.

Avoid writing random stuff about the country or university in your SOP. Do not write about your fantasies of studying abroad without giving any relevant information.

9. Avoid Copying your SOP

Copied documents may lead to rejection of your application from the universities abroad. Avoid copy pasting documents from ex applicants or the internet. Always write your own essay. Plagiarism is considered as a serious offence in educational institutions abroad.

So, these were the following few tips to follow while writing a good SOP. Follow these steps and be sure of submitting an incredible SOP. 

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