[English] Top 10 tips for a Better Statement of Purpose

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Do you want to impress the adcoms with your amazing writing skills? Do you want to craft a personal statement or statement of purpose that is thoughtful and insightful? Follow these 10 tips to get your writing in order:

  1. Use positive language. Say what it is, not what it’s not.
  2. Use transition words between paragraphs to link one to the next. Examples of transition words are “later,” “furthermore,” or “moreover.” You might also use a phrase like “Following the event” to create a transition, or even a complete sentence. If paragraph A is on one subject and paragraph B is on a different subject, you can begin paragraph B with a transition like “As compared to subject A, subject B…”
  3. Change your sentence structure. It’s mind-numbing to always see subject, verb, object. Switch things up by using simple, complex, and compound sentences.
  4. Understand what you write. You are using your writing to communicate your ideas, not to impress the adcom with your vocabulary. Using words that mean something besides what you intend does not enable you to convey the correct meaning, or impress the adcom. You can end up expressing the wrong idea or showing the adcom that you don’t have a good grasp of English.
  5. Use a thesaurus to find alternatives to words you find yourself repeating. As long as you follow Tip 4, this will make your writing more interesting.
  6. Be concise. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible. The admissions staff has to read through a huge number of essays and don’t want to spend more time than necessary getting through them. They will appreciate your brevity.
  7. Make every word count. Don’t repeat yourself. Everything you write should convey something new.
  8. Avoid qualifiers like rather, quite, somewhat, probably, possibly, etc. Your writing needs to show confidence, and deleting needless qualifiers will strengthen your writing. If you don’t believe what you write, why should the adcom?
  9. Use the active voice. It is crisper than the passive voice and identifies who is performing an action and what the object is. The passive voice is more verbose and usually less clear.
  10. Read and refer to Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.This classic is only 85 pages long and available in paperback. It has basic rules or grammar, punctuation, composition, and style.

Not following these basic writing tips can make you seem sloppy or cast doubts on your communication skills. These are two pitfalls you want to avoid when trying to make a good first impression.

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