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Body of an SOP

The body of the SoP is important to reinforce the persona created in the opening lines. A coherent story of your achievements and expectations should follow the start.

One persuasion framework that can be used for building out your story is Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six key principles of influence: Reciprocity, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking and Scarcity.

As you don’t know, who is evaluating your SoP, some of these principles are difficult to directly deploy. However, the principles of Commitment and Consistency, Authority, Scarcity as well as the Liking principle can be definitely applied to your SoP.

The Commitment and Consistency principle can be deployed through building out your achievements as a progression of sorts, kind of like a deliberate series of efforts undertaken to achieve an expectation you had. In case, the achievements are disparate, it is important to build a narrative that highlights synergistic thought behind each of them.

The Authority principle finds its voice through your areas of expertise. One way to showcase expertise is through a long association. For example, if you have practiced dance for fifteen years, that would reinforce the authoritative elements in your SoP. Other way to showcase authority is through positions that display expertise in that area. A head prefect, or a district level play-off all indicate authority elements.

Scarcity principle can also fit in your application very well. Among your many achievements and areas of interest, focus on ones which are rare. Excellence in football, or academics, though commendable, could generate little traction given that they are commonly quoted. On the other hand, excellence in ‘higher order calculus’ or ‘classical music’– comparatively rarer – would have a greater impact!

Liking is another principle that can be applied very nicely as well. However, the key here is to understand the principles of the institution, and some research for the same is important. Most institutions have espoused values and behaviors, and presenting your aspirations and achievements through that lens enhances the Liking quotient. Also, making it easier for the evaluator to understand the context by providing common reference is a way to build camaraderie with the evaluator.

Bear in mind that the body of the SoP essentially answers the question of who you are, and builds your overall profile for the evaluator.


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