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Homo Sapien

Exceeding word limit for statement of purpose

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Hello,

The Schools I am applying to have a word cap for SOP at 1000. Is it safe/advisable to exceed this limit? Do ad comms take this as a serious breach or would let it pass?

Thank you for your time.

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Hi, I have similar issues too. I have plenty of stuff I wanna put in because I think they are all necessary. But I would rather try to stick to that limit. I guess one or two lines off would be okay, but if its almost a paragraph extra, unless the SoP is very moving, I'm afraid it would bore the adcomm.

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I remember reading somewhere that the general buffer is 10%. But some schools require you to type in the application itself, in which case there's no wiggle room :(

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On 11/17/2018 at 12:22 AM, loffire said:

I remember reading somewhere that the general buffer is 10%. But some schools require you to type in the application itself, in which case there's no wiggle room :(

The 10 percent as a buffer is helpful to know, thanks! I'm struggling with the schools that say "about 500 words", since everyone's "about" is different and the word is so relative. Any ideas as to how to handle that?Would you say that maximum is 505 words or more like 525?

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14 minutes ago, samiamslp said:

The 10 percent as a buffer is helpful to know, thanks! I'm struggling with the schools that say "about 500 words", since everyone's "about" is different and the word is so relative. Any ideas as to how to handle that?Would you say that maximum is 505 words or more like 525?

Small note here: How much buffer a school is willing to offer is dependent on the school. Submitting an extra 25 words on 500 words isn't likely to hurt. Submitting an extra page or two on a writing sample might hurt because it shows that you're not willing to follow their instructions. 

With that being said, about 500 words generally means that they want about 2 double-spaced pages. I wouldn't stress to much as long as you can fit it in there. Less is often more though when it comes to these things though because it shows your ability to edit.

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1 hour ago, Warelin said:

Small note here: How much buffer a school is willing to offer is dependent on the school. Submitting an extra 25 words on 500 words isn't likely to hurt. Submitting an extra page or two on a writing sample might hurt because it shows that you're not willing to follow their instructions. 

With that being said, about 500 words generally means that they want about 2 double-spaced pages. I wouldn't stress to much as long as you can fit it in there. Less is often more though when it comes to these things though because it shows your ability to edit.

Makes sense. Thank you! It's great to hear from someone who has been through the process!

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I would not go over the word limit.  Yes its hard to stick to the limit set, but your SOP is not the only time you'll encounter a word limit.  Class papers can have them, essay questions on exams can have them, and journals have them for articles submitted so now is the time to get used to it.  On the one hand adcoms may allow some wiggle room, but on the other hand they may assume you can't follow directions and truthfully you won't know which camp they fell in until you get a positive or negative response from them.  Given how much work goes into the application process I wouldn't risk the latter.

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47 minutes ago, MarineBluePsy said:

I would not go over the word limit.  Yes its hard to stick to the limit set, but your SOP is not the only time you'll encounter a word limit.  Class papers can have them, essay questions on exams can have them, and journals have them for articles submitted so now is the time to get used to it.  On the one hand adcoms may allow some wiggle room, but on the other hand they may assume you can't follow directions and truthfully you won't know which camp they fell in until you get a positive or negative response from them.  Given how much work goes into the application process I wouldn't risk the latter.

Definitely. I'm currently working on my SOP for a program which I visited a few months ago, and during my visit the director of the admissions committee explicitly said that while the prompt said a specific amount, there was actually wiggle room allowed on the word count. I don't think I could ever go over if there was an express amount of words, period-- that would make me too anxious that they might throw out the SOP or not see everything I wrote! There would be too much to risk for that, I agree!

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