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Let's vote and discuss the appropriate length of a good SOP


Appropriate Length/Content of SOP  

75 members have voted

  1. 1. How many words have you written in your statement of purpose?

    • less than 300 words
      1
    • 300 ~600 words
      6
    • 600 ~ 1000 words
      40
    • More than 1000 words
      17
    • I have not yet written any SOP
      11
  2. 2. How many words do you think most appropriate to SOP

    • Less than 300 words
      0
    • 300 ~ 600 words
      7
    • 600 ~ 1000 words
      50
    • 1000 ~ 2000 words
      12
    • More than 2000 words
      1
    • It doesn't matter. Some people have more to say. Some people have less to say.
      5
  3. 3. What are the contents you've devoted (or trying to devote) to write as the largest portion of your SOP ?

    • My academic background. How I came across a long way to reach my current decision to apply this graduate program.
      31
    • All the things I have done for this particular field of study
      18
    • What I planned to do for this particular field of study in the future
      20
    • Why I like the program of this school
      4
    • Others
      2


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Hi people, I've created a vote here. Please share your views my clicking the buttons:)

The reason I wanted to ask this is because I am currently writing my SOP. It is slightly exceeding 1000 words in the first draft. I am a bit worried that it is too long. But it seems like cutting away any paragraphs would break the logic flow of my essay. That's why I hope to hear some more opinions here.

Edited by erencie
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Have you checked the requirements of the schools to which you're applying?

During my application season, several programs had no length limit, but one asked for "2-3 concise paragraphs" describing my motivation for pursuing further study in my field. Some programs asked for a series of 2-3 several shorter essays based on specific prompts. I think the majority wanted an SOP that was ~1.5-2 pages (~750-1000 words). So before you go nuts revising, research what your target programs want from you!

Best of luck!

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I wrote my SOP to fit my "shortest" length requirement of 2 double-spaced pages, so it is about 900 words or so. I second looking at your program requirements. Mine ranged from the 2 double-spaced pages to 2500 words. I was having trouble cutting mine down, but I had one of my LOR writers look at it, and she was able to help me pinpoint where I could be more concise. So, maybe have someone look it over... outside input is always helpful!

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Have you checked the requirements of the schools to which you're applying?

During my application season, several programs had no length limit, but one asked for "2-3 concise paragraphs" describing my motivation for pursuing further study in my field. Some programs asked for a series of 2-3 several shorter essays based on specific prompts. I think the majority wanted an SOP that was ~1.5-2 pages (~750-1000 words). So before you go nuts revising, research what your target programs want from you!

Best of luck!

Thanks for the advice. I went to look at the page specifying details of SOP. It turns out the requirement is quite different from one school to another. Some provide a text box for applicants to enter with limit word count(there is one asking max 500 words). Some rigidly set the format for applicants to follow. Some schools ask to upload PDF but strongly mentioned that they do not want to hear life history starting from childhood.

They also name it differently. Some call it SoP. Some call it statement of interest.

Well, have to provide customized version for each school I applied. :(

I wrote my SOP to fit my "shortest" length requirement of 2 double-spaced pages, so it is about 900 words or so. I second looking at your program requirements. Mine ranged from the 2 double-spaced pages to 2500 words. I was having trouble cutting mine down, but I had one of my LOR writers look at it, and she was able to help me pinpoint where I could be more concise. So, maybe have someone look it over... outside input is always helpful!

Wow 2500 words. That's quite a lot. Do you customize your SOP to fit Different school requirements?

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Do you customize your SOP to fit Different school requirements?

I am going to customize each one to discuss each different school, but I am not going to extend the length for the longer ones. I feel good about my SOP as it is now, at 2 pages, so I figure I will stick with it and not try to add in more "just because I can." And, the 2500 limit is the only one anywhere close to that long; most fall around 2-3 pages.

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I feel good about my SOP as it is now, at 2 pages, so I figure I will stick with it and not try to add in more "just because I can."

The admissions committees love it when you make things easier (read: shorter) for them. If you can say everything you want to say in that shorter space, by all means go with it! :)

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I think if you're looking to cut, don't look to cut whole paragraphs. Look instead for superfluous sentences or phrases. I think a common SOP problem is the overly-verbose "hook." A few of my earlier drafts had entire pages devoted to fluff. While it was a pace that helped me wander into content rich material, a lot of it needed to go. If you want to cut, ask yourself if each sentence adds meaning/content to the overall piece. If not, it can go. And look first and most critically at your opening paragraph(s). How much do you lose, if anything, if you chop off those first two sentences? This is not to say that sparse, terse writing is the way to go but I think using lots of language (with little meaning) as a crutch is pretty common.

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I had to write a 500 word SOP for one of my applications. And it had a slightly later deadline so actually just edited down a version that was about 1200 words. After doing that, I realized that the 500 word version was much stronger and only submitted a slightly longer (600-700 words) version for subsequent applications. It worked for me as I got into those programs.

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I think mine was ~500 words. The idea is to get your thoughts across as concisely as possible. You want to relay all the important information you need to: background, experience, goals, etc. and at the same time not get too wordy. Those reading your SOP are going to be swayed by content, not overly elaborate wording or story telling. Although of course it will still need to be well written. Make sure everything is grammatically sound. Read it out loud, make sure everything sounds right.

If you're using the same basic template for multiple SOPs make sure you change all the times you use the institution names from the previous. I talked to somebody who forgot to do this and needless to say it was very embarrassing for them when brought up during the interview!

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I'm shocked by the results. I would never have thought a lengthy SOP at 600-1000 words would be the popular vote. I guess I've just been conditioned by my programs!

Edited by Basic_Space
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Mine is 1500 words but I plan to cut it to 1200 eventually. This is difficult though because some programs ask for a separate SOP and Personal/Academic history statement, while some ask for you to combine both in a longer SOP. So that 1200 mark is for a combined version which I will be splitting into two approx. 600 word essays for the programs that require it.

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