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6th Dec 2022
Afia Azmi

SOP / Essay made easy: avoid flattery, mention personal challenges and other tips

It is time to start choosing universities, completing the application form and writing the letter of intent, the college essay that will get you admission to the university of your choice. There are various ways of writing an essay and many times universities will give you a topic for an essay.

Read the essay topic carefully and keep the following TEN simple things in mind as you develop the essay.

How to write the perfect SOP? Tips!
  1. The essay is an opportunity for you to showcase your abilities, your knowledge, your strengths and why you are a good fit for the university you have selected. Where are you planning to go in life with an education from the university you have selected. The essay is about YOU!

  2. Avoid flattery! Do not tell them what they already know. Try not to use words like ‘fantastic’ ‘wonderful’ ‘best’ or such adjectives to describe the university, the department or the professor. They know it! Flattery will lose your points and waste the word count of your essay. The essay is NOT about them.

  3. If you are going to talk about the department or the professors, focus on some specifics strengths of the departments or the professors area of interest to you and how this would enhance your learning from them. Mention if need be why their research is of interest to you. Once again, do not flatter!

  4. Talk about a personal challenge you have faced in your life (personal or in school) and how did you do to overcome it. Talking about your weakness, many times is a way of showing your inner strength, and your ability to face life in a new environment.

  5. Mention leadership, volunteer activities, or other traits which give a complete picture of you. If you have any talents or qualities, showcase it!

  6. Do not clutter your essay. Avoid too many ideas, situations, or descriptions. It will appear that you are trying to cover everything and make it unfocussed.

  7. Keep the essay clean, simple, and memorable.

  8. Use short sentences, and short paragraphs. Have good transitions. Avoid long constructions.

  9. Be creative. Show your creative side. Tell the story of your future!

  10. Finally, review your essay carefully. Have others critique your essay. Do not repeat information in other parts of your application.

The narrative curriculum vitae. This is an opportunity to talk about you and your life. Keep in mind these five simple points -

  1. Do not narrate every aspect of your life from age one till today!

  2. Use the narrative as if you were telling a story about your life. Highlight the good and great but also mention challenging times. Show character!

  3. Bring out some interesting qualities of yourself, some of your accomplishments.

  4. Do not repeat accomplishments, events, moments which are similar. Be selective. Choose the one that stands out. The life chaining ones!

  5. Make sure that things that you mention were like building blocks in your journey through till this point of your life.. Make your life interesting and exciting.

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