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What To Write In An SOP ?

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

The usual SOP full form is Statement of Purpose, we call it the Statement of Personality. Why we have changed the SOP full form is because it is the most general document one can present about himself. What is the meaning of SOP when we already have the resume?

The Statement of purpose that any school requires is to adjudge the personality you have acquired over the series of experiences at work, through projects or through out of work interactions which have motivated you to apply to the program. Therefore just so that it is not a replica or a rephrasing of your resume, we have renamed the SOP full form as the Statement of Personality.

An SOP must explain their motivation and goals, additionally, it must document the character, integrity and work ethics of the applicant.

Someone recently shared his draft for an SOP for Canada with us for editing and MBA admission consulting package.

We did not find any detail about his career progression as a professional but received all inputs as a rephrasing of the resume he was already submitting. An SOP for Canada is different from a resume for Canada. We advised him to research on the school before he started writing.

In another example, we counselled an applicant who had to apply to multiple schools. When he submitted his SOP for Canada, it was the same as his SOP for IIMB and the same as his SOP for IIMC with just the school name being different. The course applicable for the SOP for Canada was Masters in Business Analytics and the course in India was the Executive MBA from IIM.

How can the SOP for two schools even if it is the IIM Executive MBA be the same with just the name of the school changed?

It just shows us that you did not research. An SOP structure though general is very tricky. Please ensure that you do not commit a copy-past to your SOP even if you have a great academic record. What the admissions committee reads in the SOP does matter.

If your SOP is carelessly written it shows a lack of focus and commitment, the admissions committee will surely not take you seriously, even if you have stellar scores, it will show a laxity in your profile and attitude. Many applicants try to dodge difficult questions especially those about weaknesses and failure. These questions are an opportunity to show your attitude and how you can turn around situations or take proactive action. Moreover it shows that you are capable of introspection and accepting a weakness or a failure, which is equally commendable.

Always use the active voice while writing an essay or an SOP. Passive voice comes across as very cold and detached, something no reader enjoys. Write in a natural flow of language and take proper paragraph breaks. It is difficult to follow the story in a long winding sentence. In addition to this, you must explain events at as many places as required. Writing specific details which connect to the main theme that you want to convey is very important.

There are some things that you should definitely not do while writing an SOP:
  1. Don’t try to explain the negatives in your profile. Being defensive and over explanatory at irrelevant places shows in confidence. Every application has special sections where you can explain any shortfalls in your candidature.

  2. Don’t copy or try to look for samples. Be authentic in your story.

  3. Don’t use difficult words - they don’t impress. Clear succinct writing always wins.

  4. Exaggerating about your role, responsibilities or what you did might result in an interview interaction which might fall flat in the face. Be truthful and honest about your stories, roles and responsibilities.

  5. Don’t write a technical discourse which overrides the story you want to tell.

The essays emphasise on the intrinsic traits that the committee seeks in the admissions process. Strong analytical skills and work ethics are expected in global business, your agility, resilience and motivation will be highlighted in the essays. The essays are a way to present your whole personality, not just the individual achievements that you assume the school would like to read. Admissions teams appreciate leadership skills in MBA applicants like honesty, teamwork, communication skills and independent thinking.

The SOP revolves around the examples and stories of how you have demonstrated these in work and out of work settings. The essays of successful applicants are genuine examples of building and demonstrating these skills at individual and team levels.

Following is a suggestive structure that you can use for writing an SOP:

The Introduction. In this section where you tell the admissions office what you want to study. For example, I wish to pursue an MBA degree in Business Analytics.

Paragraph 2: Use this space to summarize what you did as an undergraduate. Enlist or rather walk them through all the important classes you took which stimulated your desire for an MBA education, such as a specific project for a class. Discuss the internships you have done discuss what the responsibilities were, and the outcomes.

Work experience, especially if you had any kind of responsibility for testing, designing, or researching a product or apparatus.

Paragraph 3: This is a good place to mention any part time or full time jobs taken up after graduation, succinctly describe the role: company, team, responsibilities, what you learned. You can also indicate here how this shaped your decision to pursue an MBA.

Paragraph 4: This is a section to discuss what you want to study in MBA in further detail. This is an extrapolation of the introduction paragraph. State your area of interest, explore what you look forward in the course. Research on the website for information about the professors and their research in your desired are of study. (Be true, absolutely, don't make up something fake just to impress people.) Close your SOP in a positive and confident manner with an enthusiastic preparedness for the challenges of an MBA.

Questions to address in an SOP:

  • What experiences and/or education have made you want to pursue this degree program?

  • Why do you want to pursue this field of study?

  • How have you been pursuing your education, social work, internships?

  • What specifically appeals to you about this program?

  • What do you contribute to a team?

  • What do you plan to do with the MBA education in the short term and the long run ?

  • Why should the MBA Admissions team take you?

  • How do you think it might relate to the specialization that you want to opt for?

  • Describe how your experience, education, goals, and the proposed MBA course bind together.

Most schools in Canada require an SOP for Masters and MBA in Canada. So an SOP for Canada or an SOP for India would not have many differences. It just requires proper research, attention to detail and structured presentation of thoughts to become a winning SOP. Get started with discussing your profile with us.

What to Write in an SOP?
What to Write in an SOP?

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