Writing a Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement for graduate admission

A very concise explanation of the two and important things to note

statement of purpose

Statement of Purpose (SOP)

It is a research statement and a bit different from Personal statement (PS). Your SOP should be about 5 parts:

1. Introduction, interests & motivations

A very brief & direct description of yourself. Be simple but professional) why add too many unimportant words and phrases? Go to the details, you are not in a literature competition.

2. Brief description of your undergrad (or MSc) journey

Important modules, your publications, past research, conferences- point out just the significant things & why they’re important.

You should on mention names of professors that have an online profile. Why should you mention names of professors when they do not have a profile online? I feel you can just say “My undergraduate project supervisor”. You mention names when it is reknowned. 

Read also : 10 Frequently Asked Questions on Statement of Purpose or Motivation Statement and answers.

3. Activities

Your activities past or current-; work experience, leadership or volunteer that prepared you for graduate school and specifically for that MSc/PhD you’re applying.

4. Research interest

 Discuss more on your research interests- the question you would like to study for MSc/PhD,Prof(s) you have contacted & will be working with (if admitted), what you bringing to the school/lab & how the program will benefit you

5. Closure

Close this SOP with optimism, let them know you have the right experiences to excel & you’re confident of contributing significantly. 

Personal Statement

Here, you're giving the admission committee a chance to know you as a person. This essay enables one to tell a compelling story(ies) about your life, show communication skills & show your potential in increasing collaboration in a cross-section setting. 

1. Discuss some personal events that have shaped you to become who you’re today.
2. Why and how did you become interested in your course? what have you learned?- “I’ve always wanted to study biochemistry since childhood” HOW?- this is a general statement & way too common.

Read also : What you need to know about JAMB CAPS.

3. Discuss your significant achievement despite your low background (economic wise or others).

4. Your leadership experience and community involvement and how that has helped you and perhaps help develop your community.

5. Your interest in contributing to higher education and giving back- career goal. Always remember this, your story is to sell yourself. If I cannot see the connection in your story, what about your application reviewers that have about 20-50 applications to review?

6. Any gap in your result, test scores you would like them to note? – please let them know in this essay. 

Important Tips

1. Unless otherwise stated, I would be very concise & maintain my essays to be 1000words max. (ideally, way less)

2. Your opening Paragraph- please write this in a well convincing way to grab the reader’s attention (if this is good, the flow will continue).

3. Don’t write SOP/PS with “I’ve always wanted to become ABC”- substantiate

4. It’s not a CV- Don’t list your achievements & forget to explain the importance & how it describes you as a person
5. Show example- don’t just say “I’m a brilliant student”, demonstrate it.

6. Be specific, ensure continuity, and let the flow link to each other.
7. Be a bit confident, write from a positive perspective- they don’t know you before, so market yourself well.
8. Close the essay with a statement full of excitement and optimism.

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9. Remember that you don’t have to be make your story sympathetic. Your reviewers are usually business minded and wants the best candidate not the most pitiable candidate