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A Step-by-Step Guide for Writing a Statement of Purpose

A statement of purpose is not a very usual or common letter we write to our near ones, it’s a kind of letter which is purposefully written to the admission authorities in colleges or an application for a particular job. This kind of letter has a purpose that is career-oriented and explains why you are intended to choose a specific stream for your career objectives or why you are interested in a profile/ company to work with. As the term explains itself, a statement of purpose covers your personality traits that are not documented in your academic documents, especially when you are keen to apply to abroad universities.

guide for writing a statement of purpose

What is  SOP?

A statement of purpose (SOP) is a research statement, also known as a letter of intent which is intentionally written to the admission committee in higher schools and colleges that explains about yourself and your academic interest that adds weightage or value to the graduate program you have applied.

Statement of purpose speaks about your career path, interest, professional goals, etc, as to why you have chosen a  particular graduate program. In very simple language, a statement of purpose is similar to the essay writing about yourself, and the purpose you choose here is for a particular academic program. A statement of purpose is a letter that reflects your personality by representing your profile in a letter.

Difference Between SOP and a Personal Statement:

A statement of Purpose and a Personal statement are closely similar to each other. However, there is very little difference between each other which is why both cannot be considered as same. For instance, an SOP for applying for a Masters’s degree will highlight more on your motivation, goals, and extra activities, whereas a personal statement will highlight your aspirations.

Why is SOP Important?

When a student applies for a particular academic program, his academic documents are not sufficient to explain why a candidate chooses a particular stream for his career path. Therefore a well-written application to the admission authority is very important. The rest of the academic documents and the score cards are all objectives. Writing a statement of purpose clears many aspects of a student’s application before the admission authorities approve it. 

Guidelines for Writing a Statement Of Purpose

There are many different ways and numerous formats that are available online for writing a statement of purpose. This is why it becomes difficult to choose the right format for SOP. Also, it becomes very difficult to choose a particular format for the ideal application. SOP allows you to present yourself in a unique way that differentiates you from others. 

Below are a Few Tips to Know when Writing a statement of purpose:

  • Customize and be Concise
  • Highlight your qualifications and mention reasons why you should be considered for the particular course program
  • Mention your areas of interest and explain about them
  • Do not mention your life story
  • Request the feedback
  • Do proofreading of your application

Recommend Read, Best Practices for Writing SOP for Masters

What Should Be the Length of Writing a Statement of Purpose?

After learning why SOP is important, let us now understand and learn about the ideal length of an SOP. The SOP should be 1-2 pages long, which means it should sum up between 800 – 1000 words. This length varies from university to university as per the requirements.

Some Universities have a standard length and pattern which is limited to 500 words or even up to 200 words. It may extend to 1200 words but not more than that. Writing an essay on any topic given is easier than writing a statement of purpose, especially within limited words. However some colleges abroad don’t ask for SOP, they simply ask for an essay with word limitations. 

What to Include in Writing a Statement of Purpose?

There are many elements to follow asked by authorities that differ from university to university. While writing a statement of purpose, mention your goals and career path, along with this also mention your motivation which inspired you to choose the particular university or course you are applying for. Also, don’t forget to mention your intentions to use your experience to achieve the goal. Include only what’s relevant to your application, not to mention the life story family history, etc.

Here are the Must Follow SOP Writing Guidelines

Below Are a Few Strategies for Writing a Powerful Statement of Purpose:

While applying for a graduation course, post-graduation, or under graduation course, you should follow powerful strategies for a convincing SOP. Beginning with the academic and your professional background to your future career aspects, you should write carefully connecting the dots from your schooling to your choice of course and achieving your goals.

Below Is the Step by Step Guide on Writing a Statement of Purpose:

1st Paragraph- Intro:

This part of the beginning of the SOP is often confused with self-introduction. There are various approaches to begin within the 1st paragraph of your SOP.

  • Discuss your long-term goal followed by the reason for pursuing the course that you are applying for.
  • Explain how much you understand about the stream you chose and mention your plan on how will you contribute to that stream.
  • Give a small introduction of about 2-3 lines on your background. It should be relevant to your future aspects.
  • Write about what influenced you to choose that particular stream.
  • Note: do not mention your childhood story which has no connection with your career goals

2nd & 3rd Paragraph- Academic Background & Professional Experience:

This particular part of your SOP should contain your academic background as in what have you done so far in academics like the assignments, industrial exposure, etc.

4th Para- Why You Want to Pursue the Chosen Course:

In this para of SOP, discuss your aspect, and why you are interested in taking the applied course. This para should also cover the skills you possess that are relevant to the course you are interested to take.

5th Para- What are the Career Goals?

This is the most important paragraph of the statement of purpose. In this particular paragraph, you should write about your short and long-term career goals. In this, you should discuss the immediate goals that you want to join after finishing the course, also where you see yourself in a career 10 to 15 years down the line.

This can be anything you desire to become like CEO/ CFO etc or want to own a company. Also, you can mention your plans to expand the existing family business. If you have any further goals of completing a Ph.D. or any further studies, you can mention them in this paragraph.

Likewise, you can also write about your desire to become a professor or a researcher. Basically in this para, you highlight more about your career goals and how you desire to bring change in your current career status by growing.

6th Para- Why did you Choose the Particular University?

Now in this part of SOP, you put up your convincing skills to approach the admission authorities to accept your application by explaining how will the university benefit in bringing up the career goals. You can also discuss the course curriculum, research work, etc. on how will they contribute to enhancing your profile.

Closing Para- The End:

This is the concluding part of the SOP. In this part, show the desire and interest in the course you choose with the university. Since this is the closing part of the SOP, you write about how you are interested and keen on joining the university and are ready for all kinds of challenges and hard work demanded. You also mention how focused you are to succeed with help of faculty guidance and you assure to bring the changes on the positive side in the industry from a global perspective.

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Will Writing a Statement of Purpose Help in Taking a Scholarship?

Well Yes! If any student is eligible for any specific scholarship with any specific college, then in this case you will need to write an SOP for the application. In this type of SOP, a student will have to write an essay stating the reason why you feel the desire to take the scholarship and how is the reason unique. This type of SOP is different from the usual SOP. In a scholarship SOP, you will have to highlight unique points, qualities, or skills that stand out from others.

What is the Benefit Of Writing SOP?

The main purpose of SOP is that helps the admission department to know about the student’s background. A strong SOP convinces the admission committee to accept the application of an applicant for a particular course.

The academic documents are indeed proof but a powerful and well-written SOP makes the admission department lean towards the applicant and accept their application. There will be many SOPs an admission committee receives, and many may apply for the same courses, but an SOP that is precise and crisp will be considered for its uniqueness.

Let’s Understand What Exactly Colleges Look or Expect from SOP:

They first check the writing skills of a student, and if the SOP has no Grammarly errors & spelling errors. This means the student has to be proficient with an excellent vocabulary. Also, too heavy words fail to impress the admission committee as the sentences become redundant with rich vocabulary.

The uniqueness of SOP makes it stand out. Your SOP speaks about you as a person, which means the admission department starts knowing you as an individual through your SOP. So make sure the goals & interests you mention should stand out and be unique and impressive.

The admission committee tries to find out if having you in their college/ university will contribute to the college or university in any way. So it is very important to mention in your SOP in what way can you contribute to their community, it can be anything for example sports, services, etc.

In your SOP, the intentions to take a particular course should be very clear. Bragging or exaggerating will not impress the Adcom. So remember to be honest and keep it original, you should know to justify your reasons to select a particular course.

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for a Job Application:

A well-written SOP for a job application has its unique role when you are keen to work with a renowned organization for a reputed role. It is the first impression you put on the hiring department to consider you among the other candidates. Just like the SOP for applying for a particular course, a candidate must mention the skillset relevant to the role he is applying for.

Also mention what are the experiences you bring and how will you use them in the development of the organization or the company as a whole. The organization should be well convinced with your idea of hiring you among the rest of the candidates who have applied for the same role. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. Is attestation needed for SOP?

Not really, unless it’s demanded specifically by the university or the college you are applying for. Only the LORs should be attested with the stamp and signature on the letterhead. SOP is for a very different purpose which doesn’t demand attestation.

Q2. Can we mention the low grades in our SOP?

NO, try and avoid mentioning it or simply anything that highlights your shortcomings. Very rare times or very few universities may want to know about your low grades / low marks. However, if you wish to you can share the reason for the gap between your academic years. Very fewer chances of any universities interested in knowing about your low marks in your school because your selection will be done on many other criteria like your student profile financial background, etc.

Q3. How to write an impressive SOP?

Well, that is what the above article guides you for. SOP should be well written and have a weightage to impress the admission committee or the hiring committee if you are applying for a job depending on the purpose of your SOP. But in both cases, SOP should be free from any types of spelling or grammatical errors. Write it precisely and on point. Don’t exaggerate with too big words as this may complicate your intention of SOP by goofing up the sentences. Highlight your skills that are relevant to the course / or job profile you are applying for. Stick with the word limit for SOP don’t write lengthy SOPs or too short keep it limited. Follow the right format. Try and avoid more of your personal information that is not relevant to the subject of your SOP.

Q4. What are the things to cover in a good SOP?

A well-written SOP should be concise and precise not over-written and written as well. A well-written SOP should cover the following information:

  • Self-introduction
  • Mention your career goals
  • Write more about your interest in the stream you are applying for
  • Don’t forget to mention your achievements that are relevant to your application

Q5. What is the ideal word count for SOP?

Unless specifically mentioned, ideally the word limits for the sop is between 800 – 1000 words however, it should not extend to more than 1200 words. Too long SOPs are not impressive and can be ignored and not considered similarly if an SOP is too short it indicates the incapability of communication skills to effective communication and may end up leaving a poor impression. So it’s better to follow the guidelines.


Hope this article covers all your queries on writing a statement of purpose. SOP is the first impression about the applicant, so always make sure you follow all the tips and guidelines properly. Always remember to keep it simple, concise, and precise. Lengthy or too short SOPs leave a poor impression and often are ignored. A well-written SOP is like a halfway through because it describes your communication skills and other skills which may prove relevant to the subject of your SOPs. Never skip mentioning your achievements and professional goals in short-term & long-term goals. Also, remember not to mention details that are not relevant to your purpose of application. Limited personal information only adhering to the subject for example family history, childhood stories, etc. need not be mentioned in your SOP.

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