SOP Samples

All right, we’ve seen why exactly an SOP is so important to your study abroad dreams. But what is the method to writing the perfect SOP? More specifically, how can you tailor your SOP according to the branch you’re applying to, so that it boosts your chances of an offer letter? Let’s take a look.

Opening paragraph:

Because your introductory paragraph is your first point of contact with the admissions personnel, it needs to be powerful, memorable and catchy. A great way to achieve this is to use either a quote that is relevant to your goals, or to tell the story of who or what kindled your interest in your discipline. For instance, here’s how a student interested in pursuing an MS in Computer Science began her SOP:
"The computer is the most remarkable tool we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds." - This quote by Steve Jobs has inspired me ever since I read about him in an article, when I was in school. The sheer passion, dedication and insight to the future that Steve had has led to the growth of Apple, one of the best technology companies in the world. The products created by Apple Inc. from the iPod, iPhone to the iPad have all been game-changers and have a fanatic fan-following all over the world. My interest in computers was sparked by the story of how Steve created Apple as a technology firm with his friends. This led me to opt for the Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science course at XX Engineering College."
On the other hand, here’s the opening paragraph of an MS in Chemical Engineering aspirant:
“My fascination with Chemistry started when I was six years old, when I went to an exhibition where different colourful chemicals and perfumes were being displayed. Something about the brilliantly coloured liquids inspired me, and I told myself that I would like to become a scientist one day, playing around with chemicals. As I grew older, I realised the importance of Chemistry as a subject, and decided firmly that I would indeed become a chemical engineer.”
Both these opening paragraphs are powerful and evocative: while the first instance talks about how the birth of one of the biggest tech companies fuelled her interest in the subject, the second outlines how her love for the subject began when she was just six years old.

Body Paragraph 1— academic achievements:

Here, you’ll detail your performances and achievements in the classroom and labs. Topped a subject in your 3rd semester? Be sure to mention it here! Do note that if you’ve done particularly well in any subjects or labs, you should be able to back it up with stats: it’s not enough to say that “I scored high in XYZ subject”—consider something like ‘I was consistently in the top 10% of the class in XYZ subject.” For instance, take a cue from this Mechanical Engineering aspirant:
“Given my love towards science and technology, pursuing higher studies in engineering was almost like a natural consequence. To study the course, I had to overcome many hurdles – such as the common entrance examination. I passed the examination with flying colours, being placed among the top X% of all the students who had written the examination. I took up Mechanical Engineering in X College affiliated to the prestigious X University based in Chennai. I chose Mechanical Engineering as my undergraduate major as I believed it has tremendous potential. Throughout my undergraduate programme, I’ve maintained an excellent academic record."
Additionally, any thesis or senior year project must find a mention in this paragraph too. Take a look at how the CS student talked about hers:
“As part of the project of my final semester of study, I worked on developing a portable word-processing application that would also work on low-cost Java-based mobile phones. In developing countries, smart-phones are still a luxury and most people still use sub-US$25 mobile phones, which work on Java-based operating systems. The external examiner for the project rated my project 4.5 out of a maximum of 5 rating points.”
The paragraph is succinct, yet comprehensive in description of both the project and how well it was received by others.

Body Paragraph 2—extracurricular activities:

Here, you’ll detail your performances and achievements in the classroom and labs. Topped a subject in your 3rd semester? Be sure to mention it here! Do note that if you’ve done particularly well in any subjects or labs, you should be able to back it up with stats: it’s not enough to say that “I scored high in XYZ subject”—consider something like ‘I was consistently in the top 10% of the class in XYZ subject.” For instance, take a cue from this Mechanical Engineering aspirant:
“Given my love towards science and technology, pursuing higher studies in engineering was almost like a natural consequence. To study the course, I had to overcome many hurdles – such as the common entrance examination. I passed the examination with flying colours, being placed among the top X% of all the students who had written the examination. I took up Mechanical Engineering in X College affiliated to the prestigious X University based in Chennai. I chose Mechanical Engineering as my undergraduate major as I believed it has tremendous potential. Throughout my undergraduate programme, I’ve maintained an excellent academic record."
Additionally, any thesis or senior year project must find a mention in this paragraph too. Take a look at how the CS student talked about hers:
“As part of the project of my final semester of study, I worked on developing a portable word-processing application that would also work on low-cost Java-based mobile phones. In developing countries, smart-phones are still a luxury and most people still use sub-US$25 mobile phones, which work on Java-based operating systems. The external examiner for the project rated my project 4.5 out of a maximum of 5 rating points.”
The paragraph is succinct, yet comprehensive in description of both the project and how well it was received by others.

Body Paragraph 3—goals and aspirations:

This is one of the last paragraphs of the SOP, and must delineate clearly your goals and dreams for the future, and how the university can help you achieve them. Perhaps your dream school has some well-known professor in your discipline that you’d like to work with, or maybe that university hosts cutting-edge R&D facilities and labs that would be instrumental to the work you want to do. Talk about these briefly: it not only proves that you’re a serious candidate who is invested in her future, but also that you’re someone who has done meticulous research before applying. Here is how a Thermal Sciences aspirant described his goals:
“I now intend to pursue an MS in Thermal Sciences which will help me combine my passion for Mechanics and Science. I am confident that this program at Arizona State University will help me attain my long-term goal of working in the research and development sector where I can develop a new cooling system for automobiles which uses Nano Fluids and other efficient fluids for heat transfer phenomenon. At the Arizona State University, I would expand on my technical horizons by learning from courses like Fluid Mechanics, Gases, Heat, Power generation, automobiles. I also look forward to gaining the practical knowledge of research projects involving CFD and Heat Transfer. The University's distinguished faculty such as Prof. Kangping Chen and Prof. Kyle Squires, whose research work in the field of Field Mechanics and Computational Fluid Dynamics, inspire me. The university’s research laboratories and high reputation also entice me.”
This is a powerful paragraph because it both makes a mention of the aspirant’s goals, and also the people he’d like to work with and the courses he’d like to take.
These are, however, relatively short-term goals, so be sure to conclude this paragraph with a mention of your longterm plans. For instance, this is how the Computer Science aspirant talked about hers:
“My ambition is to focus on creating a low-cost yet robust computing device that can offer the full functionalities of a personal computer. This will work on open-source technology and will help everyone from students to farmers, and the biggest USP of the device would be that it would run on a solar-powered battery.”

Concluding paragraph:

It is essential for your concluding paragraph to be as memorable and impactful as your opening one, and a great way to do that is to talk about how you’ll be a great asset to the legacy of the institution. You can also express your eagerness to study at the chosen university, and how you will make use of the facilities afforded by them, as was done by this Cornell aspirant:
“Besides academics, the opportunity to interact with a global cohort of classmates is something to look forward to. A master’s degree at Cornell will allow me to forge friendships and build networks that will prove useful, both professionally and personally.I wish to make full use of this opportunity, as the knowledge I would gain from studying here will surely help me achieve my ultimate goal of helping the world grow stronger and more equitable by bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots of today.”
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