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  • Kiran Gupta

7 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHILE WRITING SOP


A SOP is a long essay required by universities abroad and nowadays some of the Indian universities during the application process. As the full form of SOP reveals, a Statement of Purpose is an essay stating the purpose of applying to a particular course in a particular university. It is a critical document that evaluates your admission in the university. Writing this application is a difficult task and students tend to make mistakes. This article offers tips to avoid mistakes while writing SOP.

What does the admission committee want to know about you?

In general, the admission committee seeks the answer to some basic questions from a SOP. They will never ask you openly, but the following questions should be answered while you are writing your SOP.

· Why you want to pursue higher studies?

· Why do you want to study at the particular university?

· Why do you want to work with Professor X or in particular lab of the university?

· How much and what kind of experience you have in your field?

· How does your experience fit to your choice of field or the lab you want to work in?

· How you can add values to the lab?

· Do you have any specific research ideas that you want to work on? If Yes and then explain it in brief.

· How working with Professor X and getting a M.Sc/PhD degree will help you to achieve your goal?

Tips to avoid mistakes

DON’T FLAUNT GRE WORDS

There is a common tendency among the applicants to show off their GRE vocabulary while writing SOP. They simply find the GRE synonym of some random words and just insert them in the sentences. This does not strengthen your writing; rather it makes the entire essay difficult to comprehend. And, if you misplace the GRE words or use them without understanding the context of the usage — you will most likely come up with some dubious meaning, and nothing else.

DON’T DO IT LAST MINUTE

Do not copy, paste and edit templates of SOP available on the internet. A lot of students tend to make this mistake. That is not the proper way to write a SOP. It requires a lot of brainstorming and perspective to be able to write a SOP which engages your audience. You should at least dedicate 8–10 weeks to write a statement of purpose. Then you will have enough time to think, write, edit, get feedback and rewrite it.


DO NOT HIGHLIGHT NEGATIVES

Do not mention your negative qualities until it is absolute necessary or part of something you overcame with time. Always try to avoid something that illustrates a sad picture of you. Try to highlight your positive traits and lessons you learnt from past.


DO NOT EXCEED WORD LIMIT

Unless specified, the general rule of thumb is to limit your SOP within 1.5 pages. If you exceed the word limit it will make a very bad impression that you did not even care to read the rules properly. A long SOP that solely focuses on your achievements will not hold the attention of the admissions committee who are reviewing close to 10,000 applications every season.


DO NOT USE JARGONS

Too much jargon or technical term will spoil your SOP. People working in the admission committee may not be in the same page; therefore, they will be confused while reading your SOP if it contains too much jargons. Only use technical terms to explain your motives clearly and let them know what you are planning to do.


DO NOT BE DISHONEST

Write your SOP with complete honesty and diligence. Do not try to portray a false picture to impress the admission committee. They are well versed and qualified professionals to identify the pretense. Your admission committee will go ahead and verify the information through your referee. If you have an exceptionally true story, then do not hesitate to share it briefly; but never falsify a story to ensure your SOP stands out from the crowd.


NOT PROOFREADING AND EDITING:

No draft is perfect. There is a constant need for editing and correcting the mistakes. Proofreading ensures that you avoid making the following errors:

· Spelling mistakes

· Grammatical errors

· Punctuation errors

· Incoherent flow from one paragraph to the next

Always ask a third person to read and give feedback. Then work on improving the SOP. Also, ask them to give feedback and try to incorporate into your final draft



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