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Do’s and don'ts when writing your SOP

Make your SOP stand out with these simple pointers


Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) is what differentiates you from other applications. You can consider it as a preface of your objectives and abilities that you want to showcase in your candidature when applying to an institution. For a successful kick-start, you must remember the basic do’s and don’ts to write an exemplary SOP, so that you are not just another face in the crowd.  

Do’s - Useful tips

  1. Your SOP should have an interesting beginning and an inspiring end. Most importantly, it has to be original, do not copy someone else’s SOP. 

  2. Talk about your academic background, research and future goals if you are applying for Masters or higher courses. In case of an undergraduate course, focus more on short term goals and career inclination. 

  3. Your SOP should speak about your purpose of education touching upon your past, present and future. There has to be a connecting link and a clear articulation of goals and interests.

  4. Upon reading your SOP, the admission committee should be able to understand how you can add value and contribute to the university in terms of research and further scope in your chosen area. We highly recommend you to first browse through the website of the university’s relevant program pages thoroughly to ensure you fit well for the program and meet its eligibility criteria. 

  5. Always write your SOP in the active voice and ensure you convey information in a manner that it reflects your positive mindset and passion. If you have any statements or references, try quoting them with relevant examples rather than being direct.  

Learn about components of a good SOP

Don’ts - Common mistakes

  1. Keep your SOP within the specified word limit – do not wrote more or lesser than the required word count. Ensure you follow the format, font size and template that has been asked for, 

  2. Don’t use the same SOP for all applications. Tailor it to fit specific university requirements. 

  3. Refrain from mentioning personal, family information and situations. These are irrelevant in a SOP. 

  4. Do not mention scores of your IELTS, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc. These are your application components. Repetition of information mentioned in an application calls for rejection. 

  5. Avoid using overly common phrases, copied information and content picked from websites. 

  6. Don’t make your SOP sound empty, vague, blank or meaningless. Provide with facts, reasons or examples wherever possible.  

  7. SOP’s are majorly rejected due to poor correlation from the beginning to the end. Do not write in a manner that it comes across as pleading. Words like “thinking, believing and feeling” usually put off the admissions committee. ensure you write in a positive manner that shows you are not a dreamer but a firm believer who has clarity of future goals. 

  8. Never hide any information or give wrong facts in your SOP. 

We understand writing your SOP can be quite a task. But don’t worry, our international education experts are well-versed with all the nuances and can help you in drafting a great SOP with you. Feel free to contact your nearest IDP branch for a free counselling session. 

Updated on October 5, 2020

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Sandhya Nair

Sandhya Nair heads the Branch Operations for IDP New Delhi. With 23 years of professional experience in the fields of Marketing, Operations and International Higher Education (15 years), she is an expert on USA, Canada and Rest of the World including Singapore and Europe. A Science graduate from the University of Delhi and MBA in Operations, Research and Marketing from the Sikkim Manipal University, she has also been a lead speaker in various international events and seminars both in India and abroad. 

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