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Tips to write a focused statement of purpose

May 20, 2023
Author: Anisha Das

Getting into grad school

Are you ready to take the next step in your academic career? The statement of purpose (also called a letter of introduction or letter of intent, amongst other names) is a crucial part of the graduate school application process. This blog shares tips to help you write a focused and compelling statement that showcases your unique qualities and increases your chances of securing a spot at the grad school of your choice.

Do your research

Before you begin writing, thoroughly research the university and the program you are applying to. Research the program’s curriculum, faculty, research opportunities and alumni success stories. This knowledge will help you align your personal and professional goals with those of the university and program. Also, take note of what the program expects to see in your statement.

Start with a compelling intro

Your introduction should immediately capture the reader’s attention. Use a strong hook, such as a personal anecdote, a quote or a provocative question, to engage the reader and set the tone for the rest of your essay. Your opening paragraph should also introduce your main goal and why you decided to apply to this program.

Explain your goals and motivations

One of the primary purposes of the SOP is to understand your goals and motivations for pursuing graduate education. Your essay should clearly articulate your academic and professional short-term and long-term objectives. Be careful not to simply regurgitate your resume, which is also included in the application. Read the instructions carefully. Some programs will want to know research areas, others just want to hear about how the program intersects with career plans. Still others are more general and want to know why you are interested in grad work in the area. Be sure to convey your enthusiasm and passion for your chosen field, as this will demonstrate your commitment to success.

Include why you want to study there

Mention the unique aspects of the program that make it the perfect choice for your education. This could include professors, research opportunities, campus culture or reputation. Show that you have done your homework and have a clear understanding of what makes the university stand out.

Showcase your unique qualities and experiences

Your statement should highlight your unique qualities, experiences and achievements that set you apart from other applicants. Discuss your academic accomplishments such as your GPA, scholarships, awards or research projects. Also list professional experiences and skills that make you an ideal candidate for the program. Discuss how these experiences have prepared you for the rigours of the program and how they align with your long-term goals. Mention any extracurricular activities or volunteer work that shows your dedication to the field of study.

Address any weaknesses

If your application has any weaknesses, such as gaps in your academic or professional history, address them directly. Explain the reasons for these gaps and how you have overcome them. Emphasize the lessons learned and the growth you have experienced as a result. Demonstrating self-awareness and resilience in the face of challenges will show the admissions committee that you are prepared to succeed at VIU.

Edit, edit, edit

A well-structured and polished statement is essential to making a strong impression on the admissions committee. After writing your initial draft:

  • Take a break and return to it with fresh eyes.
  • Edit for clarity and conciseness, ensuring that each paragraph supports your overall message.
  • Cut any redundancies, clichés or irrelevant information.
  • Use strong, active verbs to make your writing more engaging.

Seek feedback from trusted sources

After editing and revising your SOP, seek feedback from trusted sources such as professors, mentors or peers who are familiar with the application process. Make sure you give them the instructions you were provided with so they can better assess your application. Their perspectives can provide valuable insights into areas that may need improvement or clarification.

Maintain a professional tone and be authentic

Your writing should maintain a professional tone and refrain from using informal language or colloquial expressions. While it is essential to showcase your personality, remember that this is your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively in a professional academic setting. Be authentic and avoid exaggerating your accomplishments or using overly complex language. Admissions committees value honesty and sincerity, so be true to yourself and your experiences.

Do a final, thorough proofread

Give your statement a final proofread to ensure it is free of grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. A well-written essay reflects your attention to detail. Consider using online tools or seeking help from a professional editor to ensure your document is error-free and ready for submission.


With these tips, you can craft a powerful statement of purpose that highlights your unique qualities, goals and experiences while proving your fit with the university and program. A well-crafted SOP can increase your chances of acceptance into your desired program.


Anisha Das is a Master of Business Administration student at Vancouver Island University. She moved to Nanaimo two years ago from IndiaThe abundance of positive feedback about Nanaimo and VIU piqued her interest. With more than six years of experience in communications and marketing, she chose to continue her passion with VIU as International Marketing Intern. She enjoys writing blogs, strategizing, and leading social media and marketing campaigns. During her personal time, she loves reading articles and watching films.

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