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Common Mistakes

Now that you know the importance of your Statement of Purpose in determining the outcome of your university applications, let’s look at some of the most common mistakes students make while drafting their Statement of Purpose, and how you can avoid committing them.
1. Putting off your Statement of Purpose till the eleventh hour: Application deadline a couple of months away? Start writing your Statement of Purpose today! Not giving the Statement of Purpose enough time is the commonest, yet, the gravest error you can make: your Statement of Purpose, much like anything else, needs time to be polished to perfection, and cannot be done the day before you mail your application. Start writing at the earliest, even if it’s only a rough draft.

2. Too many platitudes and not enough specifics: Avoid using lines like “I want to apply for an MS in Computer Science because I’m passionate about it.” People only apply for grad school because they’re passionate about their chosen discipline: think instead about what exactly inspires your passion. Admission committees want to hear your story, so don’t be afraid to go into specifics. At the same time, avoid using too much technical jargon. Ensure that your Statement of Purpose makes for an interesting and engaging read.

3. Exceeding the word limit: Universities usually impose a strict word limit which can be anywhere between 500-1200 words. Your Statement of Purpose must, under no circumstances, exceed this limit, since doing so can lead to an instant rejection of your application. If you’re unsure about the word limit, it’s a good idea to email the admissions committee and ask them, instead of accidentally overstepping it.

4. Dishonesty: Your Statement of Purpose must maintain a spirit of honesty and authenticity throughout. Avoid fabricating or exaggerating facts about your career or academics, since there’s a good chance your referee might be contacted and you’ll be caught. Honesty and truth will always be appreciated, never forget that.

5. Unreadability: Avoid using flashy fonts and bright colors or highlights on your Statement of Purpose—not only is doing so extremely unprofessional but it also makes the essay look too casual and unreadable. Stick to a clean, simple font, like Times New Roman or Arial in a standard size (we recommend 11 or 12), and be sure to double space. Your SOP must look neat, minimal and professional.

6. Typographic errors, poor grammar, and syntax: Your SOP must adhere strictly to the rules of Standard English, including grammar and spelling, otherwise, you run the risk of rejection. If your command over the language is passable at best, be sure to get it checked by a friend or a professional editor, to make sure that the grammar, spelling, and syntax (or sentence structuring) is absolutely spot-on. Additionally, avoid the use of slang and contractions, too, since it can compromise on the formal tone of the essay.

7. Including unnecessary information: While you may be proud of your gully cricket skills, avoid talking about it in your SOP unless you’ve actually won awards or recognition for it. The information you include in your SOP must be relevant and add some tangible worth to it.

8. Dwelling on failure or setbacks: If you've got a backlog in your third semester, instead of negatively dwelling on it, talk about how you used it as a springboard to higher GPAs in the subsequent semesters. This portrays you as someone who isn’t infallible but uses his setbacks as inspiration to work harder.

9. Not proofreading and editing: Once you’re done writing your Statement of Purpose, share it with a friend or a family member so they too can take a look at it. Chances are, they will be able to spot some error that slipped your notice, or may have some helpful suggestions to improve it further.

We wish you all the very best on your grad school dream! If you found this article useful, be sure to head over here for an exhaustive list of resources and templates for writing your perfect Statement of Purpose!

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