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Kavitha Vijeyavelan
25 Jan 2018 6.2K 3 mins Share

Statement of Purpose - A complete guide

The SOP that you write should reflect on your aspirations and character.

25 Jan 2018 6.2K 3 mins Share

The crucial part of any application that you send across to any university abroad is the Statement of Purpose, or SOP. It should be vibrant and present the original picture of student aspirations. It must strive to make a positive impression in the minds of international admission officers.

But first, you should ask yourself 'what's the purpose of an SOP?'

The Purpose

The purpose of your SOP should be primarily to convince the admissions team that you are the one of the best applicants they could choose for the seat [course that you have applied]. You must show that you have the motivation and ability to succeed and perform excellently. You can do so by highlighting any related experience you may have had in the field [chosen]. Keep in mind that the admissions team are quite aware of everything in the field. Therefore, you need to make sure that your SOP is factual. Include your research plans, academic goals and describe your aptitude.

The Outline

Make a list of all the important topics that you want to cover and list out supporting materials under each topic. You must remember that the information about your past [academic] is crucial, but it’s more vital to include how it led you to focus on your present area of interest. The admissions team’s primary concern is your current and future areas of research interests.

Normally, an SOP has three key components: the introduction, body and conclusion. 


Introduction is the lead of your draft, which means you need to be direct and give a brief introduction about you and your chosen programme, and why you prefer to study ‘that’ programme. You can even include how certain unusual situations in your life played a part in influencing your aspirations. 

Most students get into the trap of using a vague or outlandish introduction, using poetry or jargon which is ‘not’ required.

The admissions team would want to know ‘why’ you have chosen to study at their university, and not some famous lines of your favourite poet! 


Here you should look to answer some of these questions: 

  • Why is it that you want to become a mathematician or a physicist (for example)?
  • Which were the life experiences that motivated you to go with the 'chosen' course?
  • What are your plans after completing the degree from the university? Talk about your future goals- both educational and professional.
  • Why have you chosen this university? 
  • Why do you make a good candidate? Talk about your triumphs and how committed you are to academics.   


The body of the SOP is the place where ‘most’ happens. It is where you bring the best of yourself to the table. This is the perfect place where you can express your interests and your career goals. Also, to supplement all details, you can mention projects or assignments that you have successfully completed, and, according to you, where it has led you in your life. Mention the skills that you have acquired through the projects that you have worked on and stress the ones that are relevant to your future graduate work.

For Undergraduate Students – undergraduate students may not have enough practical exposure, as diverse as PG students. In that case, they can outline their area of interests and a general understanding of what their aim is. They can give an outline of where there passion lies [course choice] and how they plan to work towards it.

For Postgraduate Students – postgraduate students need to explain their intended aim to study a particular course. Most PG students go through a lot of hands-on learning which should be mentioned in the body of an SOP.

*Students with standing arrears or history of arrears need to mention why they think they got arrears. The SOP should be transparent and clear, reflecting your academic achievements or records. Please do not hide your arrears/backlogs, if any, in your SOP.

Also, If you have obtained any relevant work experience related to your professional area of interest — ensure you include them.

Outstanding Triumphs

If you have been the winner of any regional, state, or even international events or competitions, mention them, needless to say. This could include any form of achievement including special fellowships to special nominations or awards. But make sure, you do not repeat any information that has been already given in your resume.


Last but not least, you must summarise your ulterior motive of studying at the chosen university. Conclusion is the part where you can express your interest in any particular research work [at a specific department]. It is advisable that you mention the name of a professor or guide who you have selected to work with at the chosen university, and why do you think he/she could be your perfect guide.

These are the basics of how to go about writing your SOP. However, truth be said, for a good SOP, solely relying on online examples alone will not get you where you need to go. Remember your SOP should be original and paint a true unique picture of yourself — after all it is but a representation of who you are.
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