How to Write a Winning Statement of Purpose?

10 mins read2.9L Views 37 Comments
Aprant Agarwal
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jun 21, 2023 15:45 IST

How to Write a Winning Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Everyone would tell you that statement of purpose is perhaps a very important aspect of your application abroad. The degree of importance might vary, but it will still be important. Hence, it is important to write a statement of purpose that would help you stand apart. However, before you get started, there are two things you must understand; one, a statement of purpose is not your resume in a running form, and two, you cannot write it in a day.

What is an SOP?

In a statement of purpose (SOP), a person describes their educational history, accomplishments, desired professional path, and objectives. A statement of purpose (SOP) is typically in the form of an essay and is frequently necessary for entrance to graduate programmes, as well as occasionally for undergraduate programmes or study abroad opportunities. The goal of an SOP is to give selection committees information about a candidate's past, interests, and motivations so they may make educated decisions about admission or other chances. An SOP's format and content may vary based on the programme or institution that requests it, but it usually offers a succinct review of the applicant's educational and professional past as well as their aspirations for the future.

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How to Write an SOP?

The basic rule of a statement of purpose is to understand what to include in an SOP and how to write it. Like every individual, his/her statement of purpose is also unique. Your experiences would be your own, your thoughts and ideas would be your own, and your aspirations would be unique and different too. However, when it comes to writing them down, everyone must follow a few basic pointers. Let us look at the five basic steps on how to write a winning SOP.

Step 1: Prepare a list of what you wish to include

A Statement of Purpose is going to be a long document. Before you start writing it, you need to think and prepare a list of all the things you would like to include in an SOP. A statement of Purpose ideally lets you express the journey of your life, so far and seeks to understand your future goals and aspirations. Hence, there are so many things that you can include. You need to understand what to include in your SOP and then prepare a list. Simply take a piece of paper and jot down all the points that you think you would like to talk about. It must have a list of your short-term goals (if you have more than one), your long-term goals and of course all the life events you might want to include. Remember, the key is to write down every incident, however, irrelevant it might seem. At this stage, you must not worry about deciding what not to include while writing the SOP.

Step 2: Ideate the theme of your SOP

Your SOP must have a theme. This means that your SOP should focus on a certain idea. You might want to tell everything, but you must decide how your SOP should progress. The theme of your SOP will decide how its content flows towards your future goals. You must be very clear about the events that make you different from the rest of the crowd. It could be a particular incident that got you interested in the Mechanical Engineering course, or how your job led you to pursue an MBA. Finding the theme is very important and the easiest way of doing that is to find a turning point in your life (a Eureka moment).

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Step 3: Prune the list

At this stage, you must now revisit the list prepared and start pruning it. After deciding on the theme, you can start removing all those points that are not relevant to your SOP and your admission. Simply take a red pen and keep striking out the instances that are not important or, would not necessarily go well with the theme decided. Remember at this stage, it is extremely important to know what to include in an SOP and more importantly what you should not include in your SOP.

In addition, the list usually can be customized as per the course you are applying for. For instance, what to include in an MBA SOP varies from what you must include in an MS SOP. Also, how to write an SOP for UG courses is completely different as there are lesser instances and relevant projects to highlight. So, depending on the course, cut short the list prepared.

Step 4: Research the course and the University

You should know a lot about the course and the university. Do some research about the culture and the alumni, and find out how the culture and the success stories of the university chosen fit with the theme you have chosen. This would help you greatly customize your SOP and synchronize your goals with your chosen path. For research-based programs, it would be almost necessary to include the names of the faculty members and their respective research projects that are currently ongoing. Remember, even if it is not categorically asked, it would bode well to do your research about the faculty members who would be taking up the course you are planning to take up. Thorough research about the program is highly appreciated by universities abroad.

Step 5: Write, Edit, and Re-write

After completing the tasks, it is now time to write. We always recommend never submitting your first draft. It is extremely important to write it once and revisit it. You may not want to have three or four edits, but one is necessary; in fact, it is essential. Even if the story and thoughts do not change, the vocabulary and basic punctuation must be checked. In all your essays, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation must be in order. With time at hand, there is no reason why Universities would accept typo errors. Never underestimate the importance of punctuation in your essays or SOP.

Also, we recommend going through the SOP after a few days. While you have had time to relax, you would be able to look at the write-up with fresh eyes and find something else you would want to include. Hence, once you have edited and have had time to think, you must re-write your SOP and then finalize your draft.

Statement of Purpose Format

To appear well-organized and professional, a statement of purpose should be written using the correct structure. The format should be free of typos and grammatical errors and normally consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. Additionally, you can increase the likelihood that your application will be accepted by following the format, length, and style requirements established by the programme or institution to which you are applying. Even some universities have strict guidelines that applicants must adhere to regarding font, spacing, and margins. Therefore, when creating your statement of purpose, it is crucial to pay close attention to the format, structure, and recommendations. In this section of the article, we will cover the format of an SOP:

  • Introduction: The introduction of your SOP is an opportunity to grab the reader’s attention. You must begin with a hook that catches the attention of the admissions committee. Here are some points that can be mentioned in the introduction of an SOP:
    • You may provide a context by mentioning your background in brief. It will help in setting the tone for the rest of the SOP.
    • You may mention your academic and/or professional goals and tie them succinctly to your reasons for applying to a particular course.
    • You may begin with an anecdote that motivated you to pursue a particular academic and/or research field.
  • Body Paragraphs: These form the core of your SOP. You may write 4-5 body paragraphs in your SOP. Here is an overview of the same:
    • Academic Background: Mention your academic background, projects undertaken, research conducted, etc.
    • Professional Background: You may mention your professional background, achievements, how it is related to the course you wish to pursue, etc.
    • Reasons for Choosing this Course: Discuss the reasons that led you to apply for a particular course. Mention what you wish to achieve, including any academic exposure, during the course. You may also mention any specific skill that will help you contribute to the course.
    • Career Goals: Mention your short-term and long-term career goals and how these are connected to your background and the course you have applied for.
    • Why this University: Research the university, its vision & mission statement, professors, ongoing research projects, etc. to write this part of the SOP.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion should sum up your motivation for enrolling in the course of your choice. You should sound determined and ready to face any obstacles that may arise. Additionally, it should demonstrate your ability to succeed and your certainty of changing the sector with the aid of the chosen programme and university. Moreover, your conclusion should give a sense of closure and should tie everything together.

Remember, an SOP would ideally have your career progression and your career goals. Follow the right format for a statement of purpose and you will not go wrong! For help with university applications, students seeking to study abroad can contact our Shiksha Study Abroad Counsellors. The comments section below allows candidates to contact us as well.

Related Links:

How to write an SOP for UG Courses How to write an SOP for MS
How to Write an SOP for MBA Statement of Purpose (SOP) - All you need to know

How to Write SOP FAQs

Q. What is an SOP?

A. A Statement of Purpose, or SOP, is usually an 800-1,200 word written statement of a person's academic or professional goals and aspirations. Giving information about the applicant's experience, talents, and aspirations, an SOP is often requested as part of the application process for graduate school or employment applications. The statement of purpose gives the candidate the chance to discuss their motivations for applying to a particular programme or position and how it aligns with their long-term objectives. Additionally, it allows the selection committee a chance to evaluate a candidate's written and communication skills as well as general suitability for a given programme or post.

Q. What is the importance of an SOP for admissions abroad?

A. For international admissions, a strong statement of purpose (SOP) is crucial since it informs the admissions committee about the applicant's qualifications, goals, and general programme fit. A coherent and well-structured SOP can help a candidate stand out from the competition in the sea of international applicants seeking seats in prestigious universities. A strong SOP should show the applicant's precise ambitions and aspirations, as well as their interest in the university and course to which they are applying. Additionally, it should demonstrate the applicant's writing abilities and convey to the admissions panel information about their character, passion, and dedication to their field of study.

Q. What is the importance of an SOP for scholarships?

A. An SOP, or Statement of Purpose, is crucial for scholarship applications since it aids the scholarship committee in understanding a candidate's background, abilities, and ambitions in relation to the program's objectives. An applicant can stand out from the crowd by writing a strong SOP since it reveals their drive, dedication, and individual viewpoint. In addition to showcasing the applicant's interest in and prior expertise in the field they are looking for, a well-written SOP should also show the applicant's specific aims and ambitions.

Q. What should be the ideal length of an SOP?

A. Depending on the programme or scholarship being sought for, the ideal length of an SOP, or Statement of Purpose, might vary, but generally speaking it should be between 500 and 1,200 words, or one to two pages. As the programme or scholarship may have certain standards or restrictions regarding length or structure, it is vital to adhere to them. However, generally speaking, the SOP should include sufficient information and insight into the applicant's history, abilities, and goals to show their suitability for the course of study or scholarship. It should also be targeted, well-written, and have a logical flow of ideas and a clear framework.

Q. How to write a convincing SOP?

A. To write a convincing SOP, you must plan carefully. Here are some tips to write a good SOP:

  • Focus on the relevant: Mention only the relevant information and avoid writing anything that does not help in your admissions.
  • Be well-read: Research the university and the course you are applying for. Align your SOP with the university’s requirements.
  • Logic, reason, and flow: Make sure that all the events mentioned in your SOP are well connected to each other in a flow with the help of logic and reason.
  • Proofread: Proofread your SOP multiple times before coming up with a final draft.
About the Author
Aprant Agarwal
Study Abroad Expert

Aprant has scored 700 on the GMAT and likes to write articles and blogs in his free time. He has considerable experience in the study abroad domain, especially in MBA admissions and want to provide authentic guidanc... Read Full Bio





6 months ago

hi can you write sop for me

Reply to Maria


Aprant AgarwalStudy Abroad Expert

6 months ago

Hello. Please connect with our experts for counseling services with the help of this link:

I'm applying for a second B.Sc. degree at the university of Manitoba, Canada. Do you have a format for such?

Reply to ifeoluwa sarah ogungbemi


Aprant AgarwalStudy Abroad Expert

6 months ago

You can refer to the following article for SOP for undergraduate courses:

I will be applying for Biomedical Engineering. I need someone who can review my SOP. Could you please help me?

Reply to Alma Taziz Chowdhury

Hi, we can not review your SOP as we don't offer only editing services. You can check samples and guidelines here: or


Nasrullah Poya

2 years ago

plz send me a SOP for executive master's in economic policy

Reply to Nasrullah Poya

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