Statement of Purpose Essays: 3 Things to Do and 3 Things to Avoid

Your statement of purpose essays are a vital piece of your application. However, with so much advice out there today, much of it conflicting, it can be difficult to figure out how to make them as strong as they can be. Here is some advice that applies to all applicants, no matter your background or where you are applying. Follow these 3 tips and avoid these 3 mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to writing a very strong statement of purpose essay.

1. Write an essay that nobody else can.

One of the easiest ways to tell if your statement of purpose is effective is to ask yourself the question, “Could someone else have written an essay just like (or very similar to) this one?” If your answer is “yes” or even “maybe,” you should rethink your work. If your essay does not showcase you as a truly unique applicant, it won’t serve your best interests in front of the admissions committee.

2. Follow all instructions and guidelines.

This one is fairly simple, but extremely important. Adhere to all length limits, answer all questions posed in the prompt, and make sure that your finished essay is in whatever form it’s required to be in. Admissions committees will not be impressed by work that ignores their set standards.

3. Have someone else read over your work before you submit it.

When you finish your statement of purpose essay, you will probably be sick of it. After having worked on it for hours and hours, usually spent over days or weeks, you’ll be ready to just submit it and be done with it. Don’t succumb to this temptation, though. Instead, make sure you have someone else read it over to provide feedback. You might be amazed at how much different your work sounds to someone else.

3 Things to Avoid in a Statement of Purpose Essay

1. Don’t spend time providing information that’s included elsewhere in your application.

Statement of purpose essays should tell the reader something unique about you. Don’t waste time going over the details of your resume or listing all the classes you’ve taken. The reader can get that information from other parts of your application packet.

2. Don’t try to make your writing sound impressive by using big words and complicated constructions.

You want your writing to be strong, but you also want it to sound natural and be in your unique voice as a writer. Some applicants try to improve their work by using a thesaurus to replace simple, common words with bigger, more complex ones. There’s no need to do this. In fact, doing so will almost always weaken your writing.

3. Don’t leave even a single technical error in your writing.

Finally, make sure your finished statement of purpose essay is 100% free of mistakes in spelling, grammar, and usage. There is no excuse for even a single one of those finding their way into the statement you submit. If it does, the reader will notice – guaranteed.

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