Statement of Purpose (SOP) – Everything you need to know

Statement of Purpose (SOP)

The most important aspect of your application!

Universities abroad require you to submit your application with a statement that articulates your career path and goals. This helps them in ensuring the right candidate for the courses offered by them.

What is a SOP?

A Statement of Purpose (SOP), also known as a research statement or a letter of intent, is written to the admission panel and talks about your career path, interest, professional contributions, goals and the driving force behind pursuing a particular program. This is usually submitted in the form of an essay, however, certain universities may also keep it question-based. It is the most integral part of your application that decides your admission in your preferred institution. 

Purpose of a SOP 

The SOP is the decision maker of your application. It helps the admission committee assess your take on life, your career goals, beliefs, subject knowledge, and your vision. In short, a well-written SOP paints your overall personality for the universities. It is an opportunity to pitch your purpose to the committee and reasons why they should choose you over other applicants. A good SOP works great for weak academic profiles where in you can compensate by highlighting your future goals and ambitions. A well-written SOP also reflects how well you can express your thoughts using your writing skills.

Components of a good SOP

There are several elements that are crucial to your SOP. These include: 

  • Personal background 
  • Financial background
  • Academic details  
  • Professional experience (full/part time, voluntary)
  • Immediate and long term goals 
  • Reasons why you wish to study at a particular institution 
  • Reasons of being interested in the chosen field 
  • About extra-curricular activities
  • Published works, if any 
  • Papers submitted, if any
  • Interests, hobbies  

Do’s for your SOP application 



Your purpose of taking the program and the opportunities you wish to explore

Your short-term and long-term career and personal goals

 Your academic journey and accomplishments

 Evidence of professional achievements

Extracurricular activities

Anecdotes of teamwork, leadership and other corporate qualities

Motivation and career aspirations 

 Career expectations from the institutions

Assignments undertaken during studies

Noteworthy projects undertaken at work

 Internships, if any

 Volunteer work, if any

How to write a great SOP?

Here are the three major steps you need to keep in mind when writing your SOP

  1. Plan it well: Create an outline for your SOP and work accordingly. Sharing an anecdote that developed your interest in your subject is a good way to build your introduction. Create pointers and categories, list down your relevant achievements and expertise, and most importantly, your reason behind choosing the course and the university. 
  2. Work on the draft: Focus on sharing your learnings and knowledge during your education and industry experience. Limit the use of technical terms, and use active voice when writing your SOP. If there is a gap year or an academic issue, address them in an optimistic manner. Make sure your SOP has a clear introduction and conclusion. Remember, you should always write your SOP in reverse chronological order.  
  3. Review before you send: It’s important to review what you’ve written. Re-analysing will help correct the flow, vocabulary, sentence construction errors, long sentences and other grammar issues. Get a second opinion, may be from your professor, senior or an IDP counsellor. Make sure you proofread properly and double check before submission.

What not to do in your SOP application!


Stick to basic information and overview. Don’t write complete family history.


Sensitive financial details. If you are applying for scholarships, a separate document will be required for the same. 


Minute professional details. Talk about learning experiences, not about watercooler talks


Do not exceed the given word limit.


Be crisp, do not flatter in your language.


Also, avoid too many technical terms.


Do not lie in your SOP, dishonesty may lead to rejection.


Using creative fonts or coloured papers is a strict no.


Don’t write that the institution was not your first choice.


Beware with humour, it can backfire!

Our experienced IDP counsellors can guide you in writing a great SOP to help secure your admission in the institution of your choice. Visit us for a free counselling session  or walk in to your nearest IDP office  to discuss it in detail.    

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