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SOP Review of my close to final draft.

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Here is my SOP - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XlMxlnZK6pNWNrFapPjGX58CRUZ0Sw_2wKDYhnvwvTQ/edit?usp=sharing


I think I have tried to address most question adcom might want to hear about - why MS, future degree, what field, why this field and my research interests/background.


What I feel I am struggling with is the flow of the SOP. It sounds a bit dull as of now. Any advice on how to improve?

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You probably don't need the very first sentence. They already know you're applying for the MS program, so it's just wasting space. Similarly, the last two sentences don't quite convey any useful information about yourself (of course this is an extension of your academics, and of course the SOP will explain in details).


There are a useful post somewhere on grad cafe that discussed the MAP format (I can't find it though), which is to write your SOP in this structure: Motivation (Why you want to do this research in machine learning), Aspiration (What do you want to achieve and contribute to the field of machine learning), and Perspiration (What did you do to get there).

So, I would start out with  what you have in the second to last paragraph, but shorter, that describes a lot of your motivation and aspiration: your primary research interest in semi-supervised learning for social media, such as exploring TWCNB, Bayesian SVM and clustering techniques. If you're applying for the pHD program, explicitly state that so they can give your statement to the right readers. Make sure to state your goal for the program is (it's not just about learning or exploring, but it's also about solve *something* using machine learning with your potential research).

Continuing going into the main body, I would structure with the most relevant or most recent experience first, instead of chronological. It's because most readers will scan for relevant information before they read in details your statement (remember, because they have to read thousands of these applications). Have the most important stuff laid out first will increasing your chance of catching attention.

Seems like you have the following:
low cost navigational aid for the blind that costs less than $5

2 slitherlink solver

3 interning under Prof. G. Sivakumar at the Formal Verification lab, IIT Bombay to investigate group dynamics

4 predictive analytics based applications at Goldman Sachs

5 SVM classifiers to categorize malicious users on Twitter

And from my first glance, 5 and 3 are most relevant since those are research project and you worked with professors in academia. Then 4 is next because of the complexity of the project. You could extrapolate strong on those ones, and include 1 and 2 in the end if you feel that those will justify your potential as a graduate student. If you know the names of researchers or groups you are interested in, mention them at some point and how they're tied to your aspiration.

Overall, I think you have some strong experience in ML, and I think you stand a high chance. Good luck with your application!!


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This is extremely helpful! Thanks a lot tll!

Followup question - How do I begin my SOP now? You are right about removing the last two lines of my first para and the very first line. I actually write them as fillers.

Edited by sherlock_007
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I'm haven't finished my SOP, but I can point you to some good example.

This is a really good post on grad school application by Jean Yang, a current pHD student at MIT. If you read her SOP , it starts out very concise: why programming languages are important, and what does she want to do in grad school.

I think there are a lot of reasons why ML interests you, and also you know what you want to do in grad school. That would be my start for your SOP.

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  • 1 month later...



Thank you very much for pointing that SOP. It is a very strong SOP. I am now restructuring my SOP so it will have more concise opening and focused structure.  :)

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