SOP stands for “statement of purpose,” and is also called a personal statement. It is a very important part of your application when applying to study overseas. Universities will use the experiences and skills in the SOP to assess students and decide if they are suitable for the programme to which they have applied. You will have to convince the admissions department that you meet the requirements of the course you’re applying to and that you have performed well in your previous studies.
What should you do before writing your SOP?
Before starting to write your SOP, you should prepare the following:
Take a look at the university’s official website to see if they offer any guidance regarding word count or length, any special questions they may want you to answer and the deadline by which you need to submit the SOP.
Carefully read the details of the programmes to which you hope to apply.
Read up on the departments and universities to which you are applying. For example, the school’s ranking, reputation, facilities and location.
Make sure that the programme is relevant to your future career plans. If there is an internship or opportunity to work with a company in the industry, how will this be of use to you?
Provide details of your previous academic performance and work experience in the SOP.
In the course of helping students with their applications, we have noticed that many of them find writing an SOP to be somewhat difficult. At Intake, we have many years of experience and can therefore provide solid support for our students. If you have any questions about the application process or the required documents, you can make an appointment to consult with one of our advisors. Let us help you overcome any difficulties with your overseas study application.
Starting to write an SOP can often feel daunting. For this reason, we suggest breaking it down into 5 paragraphs, as this will make the whole process simpler and easier to adjust. Please be sure to first check if the programme you’re applying to has any guidelines for writing an SOP. Generally speaking, if a university does not specify a word or page limit, usually one or at most two pages A4 is the limit.
A logically structured SOP should have 5 key components:
Introduction - Introduce yourself and the course you want to apply to, especially in relation to your previous study and work experience.
Why are you interested in this course? - Explain why you want to study on this programme, including content of courses/modules you’re interested in or professors’ research interests. Highlight your previous studies and work experience to make it clear why you are well-suited to this programme.
Why do you want to study at this school? - You may want to check the school’s ranking, reputation, location and facilities.
How will this programme help you achieve your future career goals? - Provide some details about your future career plan. Explain how the programme will help you gain relevant skills and knowledge that will be useful to you in the future.
Highlight your key achievements - Include both academic and non-academic achievements. You can also emphasize how you will contribute to the school as a student and future alumni.
Here are a few reminders for writing an SOP, so be sure to keep them in mind when writing:
- Check the university’s website for their guidelines on writing SOPs.
- Read through the programme details for more information.
- Make sure to give yourself enough time to complete your SOP.
- Check grammar and spelling.
- Do not submit the same SOP to different programmes or schools.
- Do not copy your SOP from any examples you find online or from any other sources.
- Always use a positive tone and describe your experiences in an active rather than a passive way.
- Use precise wording and make sure the whole SOP flows logically from beginning to end, emphasising key information without being too long.
You will not have a chance to speak directly with an admissions tutor during the application process, except for a few departments which require an interview, so the SOP is your only chance to tell them about yourself. Each student has their own unique story, so whether it's a previous educational experience or work experience, remember to think about what made you the person you are now, and then begin to outline how you will describe this in your SOP.
If you have a lot of ideas but are still having trouble starting your SOP, don’t worry! Feel free to schedule an appointment with one of our advisors, and we can help you write a great SOP.