SOP Format I Statement of Purpose Format - Samples, Tips and PDF

SOP Format I Statement of Purpose Format - Samples, Tips and PDF

SOP format or statement of purpose format is an 800 - 1500 words document referred by students to get a university admission abroad. For joining MBA, MS or any Ph.D. in top universities, students need to submit an SOP (also called Statement of Purpose) as it has become one of the eligibility criteria. For college admission in the USA, the UK, Canada, etc., prospective students must know how to write a good SOP. And this blog tells how to do it, using an SOP format, SOP samples, etc.

A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is primarily to know your academic and professional skills and is reviewed by the university admissions committee (AdCom). It is where you must take an SOP example, read the guidelines and submit an impressive one. Since the SOP reflects your ideas, capabilities, and willingness to learn (not covered on academic records), you can write a perfect SOP incorporating them with the help of our new SOP templates and tools. Let’s see them in depth.

Statement of Purpose (SOP) Format

A statement of purpose (SOP) format is two (2) pages long, 12-point fonts, double spaced and plain-black colour, depending on the size and type of English font used. A perfect SOP comprising 800-1000 word count, written in 6-7 paragraphs with 150-250 words each.

What is an SOP (Statement of Purpose)

A Statement of Purpose (also called SOP) is an 800 - 1500 words essay explaining your interest in the course and the reason for this particular university and country. Since it’s for admission purposes, it must have your academic highlights, skills, extracurricular activities, and other achievements. As SOP is crucial for evaluating your application, it demands honesty, authenticity, and excellent English writing skills.

A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is also known as a research statement or a letter of intent. To know the Statement of Purpose meaning, you must read a Statement of Purpose format from top to bottom or a sop template for MS or MBA courses available. 

Why is SOP so important?

The Statement of Purpose (SOP) or Personal Statement is important because it basically shows how good you are at studies and at work (if any) to the university’s selection committee. Since it is a deciding factor, you must prove to them that you’re unique and a good fit for their program and institution. Since it’s a meticulous process, you refer to a sample SOP for college admission.

Standard Statement of Purpose Format

The statement of purpose format does not have any uniform standards. Based on your course and the institution, your statement of purpose varies. However, the SOP format carries following sections like:

  • Body of introduction 
  • Academic background 
  • Previous work experience (part-time or full-time employee)
  • Achievements 

SOP should be followed by an inspiring conclusion.

What Do Colleges and Universities Search for in an SOP?

SOP for college or SOP for university is mandatory to study for any undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Since many students apply for a specific course in countries like the US, Canada, and Australia, the colleges & universities need to consider the SOP for decision-making. Nevertheless, to get selected in your first attempt, let’s find out what colleges and universities search for in an SOP.

  1. Start with a perfect introduction.
  2. Mention your strengths in a correct order that reflects your interest and goals.
  3. Highlight how your skills and competencies match the course requirements.
  4. Highlight how your contributions add value to the institution.
  5. Talk about the motivation that drives you to this country, institution and course.
  6. Use anecdotes that moulded you as a better individual personally and professionally.
  7. Keep the language positive and precise. 
  8. Use active voice throughout the SOP and make sure it is grammatically correct. 

You can refer to the previous sop writing or sop format that guarantees your dream university.

How to Write a Statement of Purpose (SOP)?

How to Write a Statement of Purpose (SOP)?

To write a perfect Statement of Purpose (SOP), you need to know the course requirements, what the college department expects, and what the statement of purpose template or examples are given on their official website. The best SOP contains nearly five to six paragraphs as follows:

1st Paragraph: Self - Introduction

In this section, a brief overview of yourself, what you’re interested in, and what allured you to choose this graduate program. Since the introduction is the most crucial part of an SOP, take time, refer to the SOP writing format, SOP structure and write precisely to the point. 

2nd Paragraph: Academic Records

Here, write what you have pursued at the undergraduate and graduate level (if any). Mention the projects you undertook, research conducted, paper or thesis published along with the academic marks. Please remember to write in technical terms as the screening committee consists of professors and other faculty members.

3rd Paragraph: Professional Experience

If you have any work experience, include them in your Statement of Purpose. It adds more weightage to your SOP and makes you stand out from other applicants. Mention your designation, how long you have worked, key achievements, and so on. Finally, tell them how it enhances your career path. 

4th Paragraph: Why choosing this particular course

Here you indicate what made you choose this particular course or program. It is where you must convince the admissions committee with your ideas, plans, etc. Unlike other candidates, you add a question to yourself and give a pragmatic answer using contemporary knowledge. If possible, check out the departmental programs and tell them which you would like to participate in.

5th Paragraph: Why choosing this particular college or university 

In this paragraph, highlight your contributions to the discipline and department that will add value to the respective college or university. Try to mention the professor names, course curriculum, research, and various activities that will help you to boost your capabilities.

6th Paragraph: Future Career Goals

After completing the first five paragraphs, you’re about to talk about your future career goals. Here, be smart and clear. Explain your short-term and long-term goals and plans, like to work in a top MNC company or kick-start a business. Emphasise the emerging opportunities, new business ideas, your work ethics, everything in a nutshell. Please don’t mention that you want to settle in a foreign country as it affects your chances.  

7th Paragraph: Conclusion

Always positively end your statement, expressing your willingness to learn and explore the challenging opportunities ahead. Also, keep focused and determined. Show the panel that you’re a confident, open-minded individual with an immense passion for the discipline. 

How Long Should an SOP be?

An ideal Statement of Purpose (SOP) should be two pages long. Based on the English font type, a standard SOP would consist of 900 to 1000 words. If universities specified a word limit, let’s say 200 or 500, then you should stick to that word count. In detail, the font size would be 11 to 12 points, and the spacing should be double spaced in justified margins.

S No. Study Program Font Size Word Limit No. of Pages
1 Bachelor’s degree 11 - 12 800 - 100 1 - 2 pages
2 Master’s degree 11 - 12 800 - 100 1 - 2 pages
3 Doctoral (Ph.D) 11 - 12 1000 - 1200 2 - 3 pages
4 Research  11 - 12 1000 - 1200 2 - 3 pages

Note: The font size, word count and page limit are based on the individual course and institution.

Should you put your name on your Statement of Purpose (SOP)?

No. There is no need to put your name on your Statement of Purpose (SOP). Since the SOP is an integral part of your entire application process, your name will be already mentioned elsewhere. However, if the college or university’s SOP letter format requires your name, you must put your name on the SOP.

15 Tips to Write a Successful Statement of Purpose (SOP)

The top 15 tips to write a successful Statement of Purpose (SOP) are given below.

  1. Find out a good SOP format and practice with it until you achieve expertise.
  2. Refer to experts’ insights from research scholars, professors, YouTube videos, websites, and more.
  3. Draft a sample SOP in a white paper.
  4. Review it and make a checklist without missing any key components.
  5. Now start writing your real Statement of Purpose using the previous experience.
  6. Use active voice throughout the SOP and check for grammatical errors.
  7. Try to add a few anecdotes to support your views and ideas.
  8. Use relevant facts and figures to supplement your statements.
  9. Be crisp and concise to the point.
  10. Plan how you want to express yourself and maintain it throughout the SOP.
  11. Once written, ask feedback from a few SOP experts.
  12. If their feedback suits you, incorporate it immediately.
  13. Take the checklist you prepared earlier and check whether all are done.
  14. Submit the SOP at the earliest and don’t wait for the last day.
  15. After submitting the SOP, check for the status everyday and take action accordingly.

Do’s and Don’ts for your SOP Application

In an SOP application, students tend to commit mistakes and wonder what went wrong. To avoid them, follow certain do’s and don’ts. You can go through them one by one.

Do’s for your SOP Application

  1. Do have a decent beginning and end. Introduce yourself short and crisp, and move on to the next paragraph.
  2. Do arrange your academic background in chronological order. When the committee members read, they should get a clear understanding. 
  3. Do speak about your intention to pursue this course and connect it with your past, present and future. 
  4. Do a lot of research about the course offered and the university. Then start writing your SOP. If they prescribe an SOP format, follow it correctly.
  5. Do maintain a positive vibe throughout your Statement of Purpose. But not too optimistic. 

Don’ts for your SOP Application

  1. Don’t exceed the word count. If the SOP format has 1000 words, stick to it. Make sure you use the correct font size and the SOP template that has been asked for. 
  2. Don’t use the same SOP templates for all applications. If you’re applying for more than one college or university, use different SOP formats to avoid confusion. 
  3. Don’t give too much information about yourself and your family. 
  4. Don’t use your scores on IELTS, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc. Repetition of information will lead to rejection. 
  5. Don’t make your SOP blank or meaningless. Give relevant information like facts, short stories, inspiring quotes (if it is appropriate). 
  6. Don’t provide any wrong information or facts in your SOP. 

Statement of Purpose (SOP) Samples

The sample Statement of Purpose for MS, UG, MBA, PhD are given here. These SOP samples or examples are the best for its well structured format that you can cross check while writing your own. You can check sample SOPs for various streams here. 

SOP Samples for MS

Here, you can refer to an SOP for MS in Computer Science that covers all components like a brief introduction, body, conclusion, etc., relevant for any MS course.

SOP Samples for MBA

We brought to you an SOP for MBA that will help you understand how to define your academic & professional skills and get through any university admissions process.

Statement of Purpose Sample for UG

A statement of purpose sample for UG degrees is available here. You can refer to our SOP for Mechanical Engineering which tells you how to write SOP for UG courses. For more samples, click the links below.

SOP for Business Analytics SOP for Data Science

Statement of Purpose Sample for PhD

A statement of purpose sample for a Ph.D. is similar to the statement of purpose sample for other degrees, be it engineering, art, or science. However, you are advised to refer to the university’s requirements first and write the SOP accordingly.

SOP Formats for the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia

SOP Formats for the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia

Whether you’re planning to study in the US, the UK, Canada or Australia, you need to follow a similar SOP format for all countries. They are as follows: 

  • Introduction
  • Introduce your field of interest and why its interests you
  • What you want to learn in this domain of knowledge
  • Background
  • Information about your schooling, undergraduate and postgraduate (if any)
  • Internships, industrial visits and training programs
  • Work experience (part-time and full-time)
  • Extracurricular activities during UG (not mandatory for MS courses)
  • Why this course
  • Mention the course curriculum and briefly discuss it
  • Tell why you want to pursue this course and its potential outcomes
  • Future Plans
  • Clearly specify your future plans related to your profession (short-term & long-term goals)
  • Never ever say that you want to settle in a foreign country
  • Why this university
  • Mention the best features of the university
  • Mention how it will boost you personally and professionally
  • Conclusion
  • Give a positive note - I’m looking forward to …. etc.

7 Mistakes To Avoid While Writing An SOP

Mistakes To Avoid While Writing An SOP

It is natural to make mistakes while writing an SOP. But if we are aware, we can prevent them. Let’s see the 7 mistakes commonly made by students while writing an SOP.

  1. Don’t take too much time in planning and organising thoughts.
  2. Do not refer to too many SOP formats. Stick to a few SOP samples and practice it religiously.
  3. Do not write the SOP at the last minute.
    Use formal language and make sure there are no grammatical errors.
  4. Don’t mention your weak points or failed events.
  5. Follow all the procedures as prescribed by the university on their website.
  6. Ask an expert to review it and make corrections accordingly.

Can an SOP help in getting scholarships?

Yes. An SOP or Statement of Purpose is a formal paper that helps in getting a valid scholarship. An excellent SOP lets the scholarship committee know you as a deserving candidate.

Difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement?

The main difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement is that a statement of purpose requires your academic, personal & professional experiences and how it meets your future goals. Whereas a personal statement requires only personal experiences to articulate why you'd like to study a particular course or subject.

S No Components Statement of Purpose - SOP Personal Statement
1 Concept Your academic, personal and professional experiences Your personal experiences
2 Purpose For joining in the study program applied for For joining in the university’s student association or community
3 Requirements Only positive experiences Both positive and negative experiences
4 Word Count 1000 - 1200 words 400 - 500 words
5 Font Size 11 - 12 points 11 - 12 points

What is the difference between a statement of purpose and a letter of motivation or motivational letter? 

The main difference between a statement of purpose and a letter of motivation is that a statement of purpose is an essay, having your academic, personal and professional experiences and how they will help you achieve your goals. Whereas, a letter of motivation is a letter addressed to the admissions committee/department explaining your aims and what motivated you to choose this course.

Conclusion

SOP Format or Statement of Purpose Format is a part of an admission process. Students who want the SOP for Canada, Australia or the US must go through the SOP guidelines first. Even though SOP writing is a hectic job, students can make it after a couple of practice sessions. For more information about SOP formats, follow our website.

FAQs

1. What is the format of SOP?

An SOP format must be 800-1500 words essay for two pages long, written in 12 point fonts, using double-spaced. Moreover, it comes between 5-8 paragraphs of 200-250 words each. During the screening process, they look at it to know your English writing skills.   

2. How do you write a good SOP?

To write a good SOP, you need to include

  • Personal information.
  • Financial details.
  • Academic background.
  • Work experience (full & part time, voluntary)
  • Short-term and long-term goals.
  • Why do you want to study at this institution?
  • Reasons why you are interested in the specific field.

3. What is an SOP example?

A good SOP example (also called Statement of Purpose example) must be crisp and concise. Information provided must be honest in your Statement of Purpose. For instance: If you are applying for MS in CS (Computer Science), you must avoid writing things like, “I am interested in pursuing my master's in CS from your university” that would be an unimpressive sentence. Instead, tell about your performance in previous work, etc. 

4. Is the statement of purpose sample pdf available online?

Yes. There are many Statement of Purpose sample pdf formats available online for free. 

5. How do I start an SOP sample?

Before you start an SOP sample, you must do a self-analysis. Why do you want to study in this country, this university and this course? Then, put everything in writing and start editing it. In this process, you will learn how to start an introduction, body and a conclusion. In the end, you will teach others how to start an SOP.

6. How to polish my draft SOP?

Once you have completed drafting your SOP, read it completely and start editing wherever necessary. When you read your own writing, you tend to find many mistakes and rectify them first. Then, give it to an SOP expert or an English expert. Let them give their opinion too.

7. Should I explain the low grades in my statement of purpose?

No. There is no need to explain your low grades in your Statement of Purpose.

8. Do LORs and SOPs need to be attested?

Only LORs need to be attested by your college or company. Whereas, an SOP need not be attested/self-attested unless mentioned by the university you have applied to.

9. What should not be included in the Statement of Purpose (SOP)?

Compared to Dos, Don’ts are much less. Let’s see what should not be included in a Statement of Purpose (SOP).

  • Do not add your family background
  • Do not add your financial spending
  • Do not add your scores of IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, etc.
  • Do not add irrelevant facts and figures to supplement your Statement of Purpose (SOP).
  • Do not add your weaknesses

Above all, maintain professionalism throughout your SOP and do not use jargon to impress the admissions committee.   

10. What should be included in the Statement of Purpose (SOP)?

Since Statement of Purpose (SOP) is considered the game-changer, you must include certain components in the Statement of Purpose (SOP) that sound relevant to your desired course of study and institution. Some of the key components are as follows:

  • Personal details
  • Financial status
  • Academic records
  • Work experience (full-time/part-time, voluntary)
  • Short-term and long-term goals
  • Reasons why you choose this particular
  • institution (college or university)
  • Reasons why you choose this specific study program (UG or PG course)
  • Certificates through extracurricular activities
  • Research papers submitted, if any
  • Published works, if any
  • Interests, hobbies and other recreational activities

If some universities maintain a prescribed SOP format like question-based essays or just a general Statement of Purpose format, then follow it exactly.

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