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Length of SOP, how lax are guidelines?

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I've been cutting down my SOP for NYU but cannot for the life of me get it under two pages. How serious are these guidelines? Anyone submit one longer than two pages and still have success?



this is pulled from the application:



Please describe briefly and concisely your past and present work as it relates to your intended field of study, your educational objectives at NYU, and your career plans. In addition, please include your reasons for choosing your field of study.

The statement should be concisely written and should not exceed one to two double-spaced pages.

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Yes, I think 500-800 is a good ballpark. I read a bunch from RAs in my lab and the most successful ones were around 700 words so I shot for that.


Update: I made it 11 font and kept it double spaced. its two pages! Done - submit.

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@ OP - "should not exceed" is pretty clear. If it said "around 2 pages" that would be different. They are not giving you any wiggle room.


@clevajay I didn't address mine to anyone. I put an appropriate header - i.e. "Statement of Purpose", "Personal Statement", etc. - at the top, and then dove right in.

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I think 800-1000 words is a good ballpark no matter what field you're in. Unless they specifically ask for more (which is rarely the case). I showed a longer statement to someone who is regularly on acceptance committees for multiple departments at my university (when it was around 1200 words) and she thought it was a bit on the long side. It shouldn't take that long to get to the point about what you want to research (if you know what you want to research). I'm sure there are exceptions, but I think it is best to error on the side of being concise and precise as possible. They have to read a lot of these--make it stand out, and keep it readable.

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