How to Write a Powerful Statement of Purpose (SOP)

How to Write a Powerful Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Writing your Statement of Purpose aka SOP is a critical part of your graduate admission process. It serves an important role in portraying your personality and suitability to the admission panel. With a good SOP, you can make a significant impression and enhance your chances of getting admission or securing scholarships.

Most of the graduate school programs will ask you to submit a Statement of Purpose as a part of their application process. Being a subjective aspect of your application, you have the control over it. If you write it well, you can cover up for other areas of your overall profile to an extent. Rather you can stand out from the crowd of applicants with a good SOP.

Use these 9 tips to write a powerful and winning Statement of Purpose.

1. Know What Grad Schools Really Want

You should write your SOP in way that really appeals to the needs and values of the program/school that you’re applying to.

While different grad schools can have different prompts, they all mainly look for candidate’s interest in the program, their ability to pursue to the program and what they’ll contribute to the institute. It’s analogous to the way you present yourself as a valuable prospect in cover letters for the job market.

The admission committee wants to know why you’re pursuing admission to that particular program. They look for evidence that you’ve thoroughly researched the program and it matches your academic profile. They also want to see a connection between the program/degree and your future goals.

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2. Make it Unique and Personal

The members of admission committee wade through hundreds of SOPs. They know the patterns that most of the applicants include in their statements. So make it as unique as you are!

Consider it as your chance to portray yourself. Highlight your academic career, life experiences, interests, qualities, and extra-curricular activities. However, you shouldn’t just brag about yourself. Instead, convey your attributes through results, events and stories.

While it’s important that the admission panel get the sense of your personality and motivations when they read your SOP, it’s equally important to show them the academics side of you. Let them know what you’ve learned during your undergrad and how you hope to build on that knowledge in their graduate program/school.

3. Adopt a Good Writing Style

Your Statement of Purpose should be a good combination for formal and casual tone, slightly inclined towards the formal one. It shouldn’t be too formal though. You should try to write in a way that keeps the reader engaged and convey your message in a persuasive manner at the same time.

Everyone’s writing style has some uniqueness. You should adopt your original writing style but be mindful of the tone, grammar, structure and other basic things.

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4. Show Your Passion and Potential

Demonstrate your passion for the particular field/program that you’re intending to get admission in. Show that you want to excel in it and have got the potential for it.

Don’t shy away from talking about your experiences, skills, and achievements. Both in academics and extra-curricular activities. Show them that you’re well-prepared for the program. Demonstrate that you would be an asset for the university.

5. Be Selective About the Details that You Include

Grad schools don’t care that you can make a delicious biryani or binge watch a whole season in one night. They do care about activities that show your suitability for the graduate program.

Any experience in life, school, work, etc that speaks to your abilities relevant to what they’re looking for is worth talking about. So be mindful about any details about yourself that you’re including in your statement of purpose.

Be precise. Focus on concrete, relevant, and quantitative examples if you can.

Try to be concise as well. Don’t make it too lengthy and boring. In general, your statement of purpose shouldn’t be more than one or two pages.

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6. Convey Your Research Interests

It’s not enough saying that you want to study the program, you should go into the specifics of the degree. Write about the exact, specific areas that you’re interested to do research in.

If you already have some research profile, that’d be great plus if it matches with your proposed/intended topics/areas of research. Particularly, for a research based graduate programs, the admission committee mostly look for candidates with clear and well-defined research interests. So make sure you convey them with yours.

7. Relate Your Future Goals to the Study Program

This one’s quite important. You should relate your future goals and aspirations to the study program that you’re applying for. Tell the admission panel how you’d benefit from the program and how it can help you in your future goals.

Do your research on the professor/lab/research team and let the admission committee know why you’d like to work with them.

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8. Proofread, Edit and Rewrite

Your Statement of Purpose won’t be that great in the first draft. Read over it several times and look for all sorts of mistakes; typos, grammar, structure, readability, cohesion and so on.

There’s no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.

Robert Graves

9. Ask for Feedback

Once you feel reasonably good about the content of your Statement of Purpose, consider showing it to people that you can trust and those who can give you good feedback. They could be your professors, mentors, supervisors, friends or family members. They’d provide you their perspective on whether the SOP adequately conveys your abilities and personality.

It’s better to approach experienced professors as they might have been members of admission committees at some point in their lives. They usually have read a number of statements and can give you valuable feedback.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve found this post helpful if you were writing your Statement of Purpose. If that’s the case, consider sharing it with other students. Feel free to add any further tips in the comments section if you have.

In the next post, I’ll be sharing some written examples of outstanding SOPs. So stay tuned for that.

Check out the following infographic by MIT. It has summarized the whole format of a top-notch Statement of Purpose.

Format for Statement of Purpose. Source: MIT

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By Jafar

Jafar is an undergraduate student of Civil Engineering at NUST, Pakistan. Here at, he shares the latest scholarships and other educational opportunities with fellow students. He can be reached out at

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