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Different Sections of the SOP (1 of 3)

  • Written by UnivAdmitHelp
  • Category: Admission Application
  • Published on 12 Feb 2019

Different Sections of the SOP (1 of 3)

While there is a lot of generic advice in terms of how could one write his/her SOP, there is little by way of practical, actionable templates. Here, we offer you one.

We shall apply the popular ‘Pyramid Principle’ of structured communication to develop a robust structure of your SOP. This involves thefollowing three steps

  • Structure the Story Line
  • Create the Story Board
  • Craft sentences and paragraphs

In this particular blog post, we shall specifically focus on structuring the story line. This, in our experience, is the most critical section. Often, a good story line is 50% of the work done!

Think of your SOP as a pyramid. (See figure) There is a reason why a pyramid structure is advised in most communications. People are more interested in the main message which, in a pyramid structure, is sitting right at the top. Further, given the logical flow of pyramid construction, your audience can absorb the key points being made more easily and therefore can come to the desired conclusion.

In your SOP Pyramid, the first two sections, viz. the ‘main message’ and the ‘idea blocks’ together constitute the story line.

Let us now craft the elements of the story line –

  • Main message: It is obvious in most cases – Why am I suited for this program/ course in the XYZ college? The answer to this question – a small paragraph of 2-3 lines should be the main message of your SOP. Ideally, this comes at the start of the SOP and along with right garnishing, could be a good beginning of your SOP. Remember, this is a very personalized answer and would lose its impact the moment you copy and paste from somebody else’s.
  • Idea blocks’ or sections: These are key themes around which your SOP would be built. Responding to the question raised in the main message, the key themes could be a few of the following –
    1. What is my education experience related to the course?
    2. What is my work experience related to the course?
    3. How can I contribute to the class?
    4. What are my plans after I graduate?
    5. What are my co-curricular and extra-curricular activities which are related to the course?
    6. Why would I be a valuable candidate for this particular course?

Often the groupings are creative renditions of these afore mentioned blocks. These sections should reflect your unique experience and fitment to the program in which you are applying.

Try to make a laundry list of your experiences and ideas under each heading as above. Once you have done that, try answering each of these questions in a single sentence. Those summarized, pithy sentences would be the key themes around which your SOP will be built.

A word of caution here – do not include all your experiences here. Please include only those experiences that are directly relevant to the course that you are applying to. Everything else, however earth-shattering it is, should be left behind.

Advice on the process of getting to these core ‘idea blocks’ and ‘main message’ would also be useful here. We recommend using different color post-it notes to summarize your experiences. The different colors could signify the different ‘idea blocks’ that you are trying to respond to. Once you have posted them all on a white board, usually a story starts to emerge.