How to Write a Killer SOP – Part 4

Yashwant Kale Career Guidance, General Leave a Comment

In this article we shall present to you about some scientific thoughts to include in your killer SOP and practices to follow that add flair of magic to the essay. This is the final part of this installment. If you haven’t read the previous articles, you can do so by clicking here.

Some scientific tools to keep in mind when writing the SOP to make an impression on the admissions committee:

– Remember content is king. Write about the following in your SOP.
• What is the purpose of your graduate study?
• Your specialized areas of interest. Who did you work with, what did you do: internships, projects, employment, research and publications, etc.
• The skills you have: using, testing, designing or researching equipment.
• Write about your future goals.

– Remember to tailor to Department: What makes you uniquely suited for this particular department or this specific institution? Tailor it to each of the different departments even though it is the same university you are applying to.

– Future Faculty & Fields
•Including faculty with whom you want to work shows you have done your homework. Contact the faculty before you apply to build a relationship. Also mention a few fields that you are interested in. Write specifically for the department.

– Strategy: You must Summarize Poster Abstracts. That means you write only one paragraph per abstract.
• Explain why your work is important. To do this, set the context and preempt the question “so what?” This is very essential.
• Describe your objectives and your work. Tell them about what you would be adding to the current knowledge and what uniqueness you bring with you. Briefly explain the methods. This should not be a major focus of your abstract. Please don’t beg them for admission. Carve your sentences accordingly.
• Succinctly state results, conclusions, and recommendations. This is what most people want to know. Do not say “We present the results of our study and recommendations for action.” Tell them what you found and recommend.

– Follow these basic Rules
Fill out forms completely before giving them to your professors, provide them with stamped envelope. Do not exceed the word limit. Single space is fine. 2 pages should be your target length.

– Never write in passive voice!
– The “I” Factor and its use. Yes it is true that you are writing about yourself in the SOP and the admissions committee knows that. So, do not over use “I”.

– Do not assume knowledge. Most people think that the admissions committee is aware of abbreviations and / or acronyms. But they don’t. So, always spell out the first reference. For example, AU stands for Andhra University and not African Union.

– Help Each Other. If you are group of friends, then help each other. Each One, Reach One, Teach One!

– Unlock the Writer’s Block. Most people experience a block in their thought process when stressed. So assume the following to keep the juices flowing.
• Pretend you are writing about a friend.
• Email your SOP to a friend.
• Ask a friend to give you an artificial time limit.

– Auditory Assistance
Read out loud. Start with your last sentence then proceed to the beginning of your SOP. You will often hear your errors. Try not to stop while you are reading, just jot down notes and make corrections later. Be patient: This is difficult, but a useful tool.

– Print, Edit, Recycle, Repeat. When drafting you should follow these steps as it is unlikely to get the perfect copy in the first draft itself.
• Always print out your essay.
• Use double space while drafting.
• Edit your SOP with pen in hand.

– Be nice to your faculty. Please, please, do not present faculty with messy and incomplete drafts for review. Present a package that reflects you: The Professional.

– Avoid banal and garbage. Always avoid writing generic words and sentences.
• Platitudes & Clichés such as – I want to cure cancer. Knowledge is power.
•Quotes & Passages such as – Social sciences and humanities applicants overuse this strategy (i.e., passages from Shakespeare and the Bible).
•Contractions, informal writing such as – don’t, can’t, won’t
•Colloquialisms & Email Speak such as – The kids in my family, LOL, etc.
– The first & final Words: We have been telling you all the while in this journey. Each university, department, program and person is different. Hence please, please tailor your SOP accordingly. Just know more about the department by visiting their respective websites, faculty profiles and the research they are involved in.

Hope you follow these steps and write that award winning SOP. Good luck!

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