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a question about SOP


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A school describes the requirement for statement of purpose like this: Write a statement composed in your own words describing your career plans and the reasons you wish to pursue graduate study.

I am wondering whether it is appropriate to spend nearly half of my SOP on describing my past research experiences. I am applying to masters programs. If I only keep the part relevant to the requirement, my essay would be very short.

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Is there a word / page limit on the SOP - If there is, ensure you cover all the specific points required as per the brief comprehensively before you add in the 'extras'. If not, I would suggest adding in your past research experiences as well to whatever level of detail you are comfortable. You should try to form a link between the past research experience and "reasons to pursue graduate study" / "career plans" - Even if your research experiences are not exactly in the same sub-field etc., try to see how these can lead up to the required brief.

 

Another suggestion is to break up the SOP into sections that clearly identify the points as per the brief and then a section on how your research experiences contributed to this. So you allow the reader to scan through selectively and read only parts that he/she wants to, at the same time providing enough information for a reader who is interested in the details - this is a purely personal opinion, so go with what you are comfortable with !

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Yes, frame your past research experiences as the reason why you want to join their program. "My experience X and Y led me to develop an interest in Z, which I'd like to research.."  Keep it future-oriented.

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Thanks very much. These suggestions are really helpful.

My past research experiences have nothing to do with the field I'd like to pursue in masters program. They just strengh my research skills and make me more familar with psychology research in general. So I only use this as a link between them and the reasons for pursuing graduate study: "With the accumulation of relevant experiences in psychology, many tentative ideas sparked in my mind, but I could not verify them due to the limitations of my current knowledge. I am looking forward to graduate education. "

I'd like to know whether this link is too weak? The program is that my research experiences are not in the field I want to pursue.

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Most of my research experience has nothing to do with my future research interests. I linked them in my statement by talking about my passion for research in general, and how I gained experience in areas X and Y. This experience then prepared me for pursuing a research career in Z, and my success in other areas shows I can handle and enjoy a variety of research areas. 

 

Only more eloquently than that. :) Hope that helps a bit!

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"With the accumulation of relevant experiences in psychology, many tentative ideas sparked in my mind"

 

Show don't tell - I would suggest elaborating on these experiences, the ideas they generated, and hence how the ideas relate to the field you now want to pursue.

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