12 Most Common Mistakes in Statement of Purpose (SOP)

In this article, we will be discussing the most common mistakes in SOP, how to write a good SOP for MS, and make your SOP distinctive. SOP stands for Statement of Purpose, and it’s essentially an essay that explains why you’re applying to a specific school or university. SOP is documentation that foreign institutions need as a condition of admission. Your statement of purpose should explain why you want to study abroad.

The statement of purpose is written in paragraph style and adheres to the typical essay writing norms. A regular SOP is typically 800-1000 words long and two pages long. It has a maximum font size of 12 points and is double spaced with standard margins. When drafting the SOP, the applicant must remember that no colored text or graphics should be used and that only black color text should be used.

Although, there are free SOP samples to help craft your ideal SOP. This ranges from Undergraduate SOP to SOP for masters. 

How Important is an SOP?

In a nutshell, your SOP is critical! The SOP is critical to a successful application because it distinguishes you from other students with comparable academic credentials and career goals. It is your only opportunity to demonstrate your worth and gain admission, thus the stronger your SOP, the more likely your application will be accepted. A strong SOP can lead to outstanding scholarship and teaching/research possibilities.

Furthermore, for students with a poor academic record, a strong SOP may compensate for their deficiencies while also highlighting their future desires and aims. So if you are a student worried about “how long should a sop be for masters” as an MS aspirant or a high achiever looking for the top scholarships. Then, this article is for you.


Most Common Mistakes in SOP

Now that we know what the SOP is and how it affects your applications, let’s take a look at the 11 most common mistakes students make while writing their SOPs and how to prevent them.

1. Rushing your SOP

This is one of the common mistakes in SOP; students frequently underestimate the time and work required to develop the SOP. Because they believe that they can spend very few hours copying and pasting from sample SOPs found online. We highly advise you to start thinking about your SOP at least a month before you have to submit your applications. Write as many rough drafts as you need, improving each one as you go.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that the SOP is the result of a great deal of thought and planning, and it cannot be left until the last minute. You must allocate time each day as a student to compose your statement of purpose. Set aside some time to study up on the school’s curriculum so that you have a better understanding of what the school is looking for. You must research to convince the admissions committee that you are the finest applicant for the program.

It is critical to provide all relevant information in a logical order. Your SOP should be produced with patience, not with time as a constraint, to include the features of how one thing leads to the other and how it struck you to apply for further studies, explaining how it fits into your plans of accomplishing your goals. The phrase “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is undoubtedly familiar to everyone.

In the context of college admissions, however, “imitation” is more likely to result in disappointment, if not total rejection, than acceptance. So, while creating your statement of purpose, don’t try to be like anybody else. To prevent scrambling at the eleventh hour, it is best to start on time.

2. Weak introduction and conclusion

The initial impression is the most important. Because the introduction is the first thing anyone reads, making it memorable will impress and hold the reader’s attention. Start with a compelling sentence, such as a statement that describes your academic background or one that expresses your attitude, thinking, or objectives, to guarantee that the admissions committee reads your full 1000-word essay.

You mustn’t overemphasize your life purpose to make your reader feel compelled to consider your profile. Use plain and simple language so they understand what you are trying to say. With a captivating opening, you’re sure to grab their attention and leave them no choice but to read on.

Similarly, the approach you conclude your SOP is important because it is the final thing a reader remembers about your essay. Finish by stating what you plan to gain from your time at the institution and how you hope to contribute. Your conclusion must demonstrate your understanding of the university and the program for which you are applying.

3. Using slang and casual language

This is another one of the common mistakes in SOP; using colloquial language in your Statement of Purpose can result in you being denied admission to your selected university. When drafting their SOPs, candidates should utilize a formal and professional tone. When writing an SOP, the candidate should be courteous. Your writing needs to be clear and concise. Remember that your vocabulary and grammar must be excellent.

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A panel of scholars and experts will read your submission. Slang, acronyms, and casual terminology should be avoided. Your sentences must be short and to the point. Additionally, only use terms and phrases that you are comfortable with. Not attempt to adorn your writing with high terms.

4. Not taking a second opinion

Always seek external assistance. It will be someone you know or someone who knows your objective too well to assist you in effectively presenting it in a draft. Write on your own, but always get a second perspective, since what you consider ordinary may be amazing to someone else, and vice versa. With a supplementary viewpoint, this may be prevented or remedied. However, keep in mind that “Don’t Let Anyone Else Hold The Pen When You Write the Story of Your Life.”

If you allowed someone else to write your essay, it could be a whole different story, because you are the only one who knows what you want to achieve in life. Using the services of an industry specialist may make a tremendous impact on the way your profile is presented. They may assist you in effectively presenting your academic accomplishments and career goals.

“Too many cooks spoil the dish,” as the saying goes. You will go nowhere if you refer to a lot of people. This could lead to misunderstandings, and you would wind up with a more jumbled paper that you wouldn’t be able to finish. As a result, it is usually advisable to get assistance from a professional in the field who understands what should and should not be included in your SOP.

5. Not conducting adequate research

In your SOP, don’t include irrelevant information about your selected course, university or college, or country. If you talk about your dreams of studying abroad, without the main objective or a popular destination you’ve always wanted to visit, without providing any relevant reasons for doing so, such as college infrastructure, country weather conditions, or even some familiar people who live in the chosen country, the admission committee may think you’re naive.

When it comes to your aims, conducting adequate university research on the course curriculum, college faculty, campus facilities, and industrial experience you may obtain by studying in the country will highlight your candidature as more focused.

6. Excessive focus on your childhood dreams

Childhood fantasies, when mentioned in a graduate application or an SOP for masters, subtract from the importance of the paper. These can be mentioned in an undergraduate application, though. Childhood ambitions can help you select what you want to do with your secondary education and then enroll in a bachelor’s degree to reach your undergraduate goals.

Instead of seeming like a dreamer, you should sound more focused and unambiguous while applying for higher education (master’s degree). Instead of detailing how you came to have an interest in a certain topic, which works for undergraduate applications, your goals should be specific.

7. Not respecting the word limit

This is by far one of the most common mistakes in SOP made by applicants when crafting a sop. Applicants go above and beyond the word limit in an attempt to appear knowledgeable or successful. This is a blunder that no one should make. SOPs that are longer than the word limit does not make the candidate better; rather, they may hurt your chances.

The institution indicates the word limit you must adhere to; if it is not stated on the internet, it is always a good idea to write the admissions office and inquire about it. Otherwise, keep it between 500 and 1000 words. A long SOP that focuses entirely on your accomplishments will not retain the interest of the admissions committee, which receives over 10,000 applicants each season.

8. Being Flashy

The typography you pick and the text you utilize should not be flashy. It’s OK to talk about your accomplishments and strong academic record, but keep in mind that it’ll be preferable if you don’t come off as arrogant or overconfident. A candidate’s demeanor should be humble and kind. Furthermore, a candidate should constantly be willing to learn and be open to new experiences.

It’s a no-no to use bold, italics, underlines, highlights, vivid colors, or fancy fonts. Utilize a plain font and basic format, and use only black as a color. Your SOP should be neat, uncluttered, and minimalistic.

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9. Unnecessary flattery

This is among the common mistakes in the SOP. You don’t need to compliment the institution and professors who are assessing your applications because they are aware of the high level of education and infrastructure they provide. Your SOP is about you, your accomplishments, and your goals; it is not a vehicle for the university to promote itself. Over-complimenting the university will make you appear as though you are trying too hard for it, and you may come across as phony.

If you admire anything about the university, you should convey it while being clear and precise. However, make sure to provide information about your expectations from the university, such as current research fields or notable professors with whom you would like to study. This demonstrates that you are reasonable, realistic, and have done your homework before concluding. It will also be useful during VISA interviews when you are asked why you picked this specific university over the others.

10. Lack of proofreading 

The most important aspect of your SOP is to proofread it. You should read it several times to ensure that the spelling, punctuation, and consistency are right. Proofreading also aids in the removal of boring, repetitive sentences that detract from the worth of your work. To avoid missing any problems, use freewriting tools accessible online to filter out faults and read the manuscript thoroughly. Before submitting it, have someone you trust read it.

A third party will always be able to notice common mistakes in SOP more quickly than you can. Also, solicit their views and opinions, which you should aim to include in your final document. As crucial as the essay itself are the last changes and revisions. Make the mistake of delivering your SOP without properly checking every word.

11. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is yet another one of the common mistakes in SOP that will result in an applicant’s rejection from any university. Plagiarism is a severe offense, and institutions will reject your application if your writing is plagiarized. There are several strategies to prevent this blunder, the first of which is to compose your statement and personalize it. Make sure your work is original by using plagiarism detection software accessible on the internet, and give credit where credit is due if you use any quotes.

Never replicate anything from the internet’s SOP examples, Sample Essays, or any ex-materials. Applicant’s Copies or plagiarized documents will result in immediate rejection from foreign colleges, as well as a permanent blacklisting of the aspirant’s candidature. Always compose your essay/SOP independently.

12. Getting caught up with your low GPA or backlogs

It’s all about conditions when it comes to backlogs and poor GPAs. It’s a subjective question that differs from one profile to the next. Maintaining positive and emphasizing learning from the situation is a good general rule to follow. As a result, only mention backlogs or poor GPA if you have exceptional circumstances, such as illness, real lack of interest, or anything similar. Instead of trying to defend or make excuses for your bad academic achievement, utilize it as a springboard to something greater. Positivity is essential since it reveals a lot about you.

How to write a good SOP for MS

Every Statement of Purpose is unique. Each essay is intended to be unique, and no one can provide you with a blueprint for writing a fantastic SOP. What works for one person might not work for another. The method of writing an SOP, on the other hand, is consistent across the board. The fundamental five processes of making a list, sticking to a theme, and so on would be included in all of them. 

These procedures can be further adjusted depending on the general course for which you are applying. The processes for producing an SOP for a management program, for example, would be vastly different from the ones for preparing an SOP for an undergraduate course. Below are some steps to write a good SOP for a master’s program.

1. Make a list of your accomplishments.

Make a list of your academic accomplishments, co-curricular achievements, and examples, as well as a list of your examples. Making distinct lists will allow you to examine them objectively. The lists might be extensive, containing information on your graduation, school, and even seminars. The number of what you can include in your MS/MSc SOP is rather extensive. Simply reflect and make a list of anything that comes to mind. You also don’t have to be concerned about the timeline. You are free to write anything that comes to mind.

2. Consider your objectives carefully.

One of the most significant distinctions between an SOP for an MBA and an SOP for a master’s program is this. While you would discuss your professional and personal objectives in-depth in an MBA, an SOP for your master’s does not have to be focused on a professional position or employment. It might be the next step in your research goals, or it could be a continuing journey of understanding the topic. It might also be a way to locate rewarding work. Whatever the situation may be, you must identify what you want to achieve at this point and choose a subject for your SOP appropriately.

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3. Compare, filter, and crop the results.

This is, without a doubt, the most crucial phase. Remember that while defining your life’s goal is vital for your SOP, staying within the word restrictions is even more important. The most crucial Don’t of SOP for masters authoring is not exceeding the word limit. As a result, it’s critical to compare the lists at this point, filter the various points, and then trim the lists. You must strike the correct balance between what you want to put in the SOP and what you don’t want to include.

4. Research the university’s professors and research programs before applying.

Typically, universities in foreign countries are engaged in some sort of research initiative. It might be beneficial to see whether any of the initiatives resonate with you. It’s usually a good idea to link your SOP to ongoing research.

5. Write the SOP, revise and rewrite it.

This is a crucial phase in the creation of all of your statements of purpose. Always return to the manuscript in a few days and compose a new one. You must rewrite your essay. This will help you get rid of the majority of unnecessary items. Comparing the two drafts might sometimes motivate you to work more. So, get started and start writing. Just remember what you need to put in your Master’s SOP and, more significantly, what you don’t need to include in your Master’s SOP.

How To Make Your SOP Distinctive

There are several fundamentals to SOP writing that will help you understand what you need to remember, such as the overall word limit, structure, and so on. What is vital to know is that you must remember which course you’re writing the SOP for at all times. If you’re talking about studying Computer Science in a country, for example, you’ll need to talk about all of your Computer Science interactions, experiences, and learnings.

Make sure you don’t omit anything crucial and don’t talk about the other stuff too much. The SOP for an MBA application will differ significantly from the SOP for Masters. Likewise, the SOP for a Bachelor’s degree program would be very different from any of the two. This article will show you how to write a winning SOP.


Whether you’re applying for undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate programs, the best way to write a strong statement of purpose or SOP is to remain focused throughout. From your professional and academic background to your career prospects, you must carefully connect the dots between achieving your objectives and your school and course choices.

The essay should constantly flow from beginning to end, covering your previous experiences, current activities, and future ambitions. One thing to keep in mind while creating your SOP is to break it into sections that cover all of the pointers. Also, you can always seek assistance from industry specialists, who are up to speed on the newest industry trends and can thus advise you on what is ideal for you.

I hope you found this article on the most common mistakes in SOP helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to lie in SOP?

When crafting a statement of purpose, you should never lie. If you have an interview, universities may ask you follow-up questions and will most likely use the information you provided in your SOP.

Are 400 words enough for SOP?

A Statement of Purpose is a 500-1500 word essay (though it is recommended not to exceed 1.5 pages) that offers your selected university a brief overview of your academic and professional career trajectory to date, as well as your rationale for pursuing that particular stream.

Can SOP have subheadings?

If you prepare ahead of time, it will be simple to connect one paragraph to the next and maintain the flow. Subheadings can be utilized if you want to talk about unrelated topics. In general, a structure with a head, body, and end is required.

How do you conclude an SOP?

Use the statement’s facts and details to demonstrate the logical link and flow between your letter’s introduction, main body, and conclusion; The details from the body paragraphs should be used to support the end of your SOP. Use different language to express the core concept of your statement of purpose.

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Martin Uwakwe

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