Writing A Winning Statement Of Purpose For MBA Application

by Dr. Alan June 23, 2020

The top-notch colleges of the world have a huge queue of applications lying for selection in MBA programs. And most of them go with reviewing the Statement of Purpose (SOP) of applicants to proceed with the process. Mistakes in the document can directly lead to rejection of the application. Hence it stands mandatory to avoid the prominent mistakes like repetitive information, inappropriate language and presentation as well as limiting the scope to mentioning short-term goals of the applicant. The blog will take you through a thorough understanding of the details required to be included in the Statement of Purpose and few questions which are frequently a concern when writing a statement of purpose.

Components of a good statement of purpose for MBA Application for making it strong

An SOP acts as a backbone for MBA applications. The B schools look for few answers in your SOP, without which it cannot go through. The below-mentioned figure gives a correct estimation of what answers are looked for by the B schools in your SOP.

Your MBA SOP should answer the above-mentioned questions but not in bullet points rather a story or novel. But be careful how you write your story. You need to formulate a story with strong stands and reasons to justify your choice of course and college. Have a look below to see a story that is well written and one that has content but not appropriately presented.

In a crowd of thousands of applications, for an admission committee member to read on the content should be interesting like the example that has been marked above as eye-catching.


Mistakes in the document can directly lead to rejection of the application


To specify a list of components that need to be contained in your beautifully written story as specified, would include:

  1. Customise the story you prepare. It should not be based on a typical template and fit information only that are common to all applicants’ stories.
  2. When writing, be introspective. Giving vague and unquantifiable ideas won’t suffice.

  1. Your achievements should be quantified rather than descriptive versions like “I did very well in managing the team”. Rather say “My efforts to manage the team helped double the team output in a quarter”.

It is recommended to read a few samples to get an idea that how the distinctive stories are to be formulated.

Also have a look at the values, as shown below, that are looked out by the B schools. Including them as part of your Statement of Purpose would make your story more appreciable.


Mistakes to avoid when writing a statement of purpose

  1. Do not write the story of your whole life. Limit it to specifying the facts that formulate the main components of an SOP.
  2. When applying for MBA, as a candidate you would apply for more than one college. A very common mistake that we make, is not changing the name of the college applying for in the SOP.
  3. Be sure, your panellist come across thousands of SOP, so trying to use ideas directly from samples like “My biggest weakness is, I strive for perfection” will make the panellist easy catch your duplicacy. Try being original and honest.
  4. Do not limit your SOP by specifying only short-term goals. Include the long-term goals. The main idea is to depict that you have a clear vision. And as an MBA being a visionary is a looked for virtue.

Steps in writing a statement of purpose for MBA Application

  1. Plan as to what you wish to depict as your strengths.

It is on basis of what approach you wish to take that you need to plan your strength that you wish to coin upon.

  1. Take up key anecdotes and gather points that you feel would help you formulate your story.

You can make use of available samples over the internet to gather how you can best present your capabilities and formulate your story to manage the “red flags” in your career.

  1. When writing start with the first paragraph detailing personal background. Include why and what makes you feel that MBA form that particular college is what exactly you want.

When writing this section, be sure to start with a hook, that makes your story interesting from the point of view of a panellist. Also, avoid the general opening statements like “My name is ….” As they have your resume and other details so such obvious details need to be presented but in a subtle manner that sounds innovative and can be even completely avoided.

Also don’t just add praises about the college applying for, as this is a very common mistake that most candidates make, but try relating your career objective closely to benefits that you borne from the college.

  1. Include details of your educational background and work experience. And how your career aspirations would be well justified in the particular college you are applying for.

As a statement of purpose is written in form of a story, there lies ample scope to manage the backlogs, if any. Make use of prompt shifts when introducing the backlogs and straightway present one of any prime achievements in the same phase of life.

  1. Depict your achievements in light of support to the desire of pursuing an MBA.

In every achievement you depict in your statement of purpose, you need to relate it a capability that is required to pursue and perform as an MBA.

  1. Summate with a conviction in your language that you are clear about your future and present decision of pursuing MBA from the chosen college.
  2. A revision is a must. Proofreading the document and a grammar check is a must before submission.

If you are not convinced by manual proofreading, at this stage you can make use of available online tools and services for proofreading and grammar check.

SOP Writing FAQs

Q1. What should be the flow of thoughts in a statement of purpose (SOP) for graduate admissions?

The statement of purpose usually has 3-4 paragraphs. The flow needs to be smooth across sections.

The first paragraph should include:

  1. Personal details
  2. Why you choose MBA over other courses
  3. How your personality and background makes you feel that the chosen college would be the best choice for you.

The second paragraph should include:

  1. Educational Background
  2. Work Experience
  3. Your career aspirations
  4. Why a business school is what you wish to join?

The third paragraph should include:

  1. Personal achievements
  2. Strengths
  3. Weaknesses presented in a way that shows there is high improvement in them with practices adopted lately

The fourth paragraph should include:

  1. Summate how this course would be a value add for you
  2. Your clarity of vision in regard to your choice of career.

Q2. Should I cite papers in my Statement of Purpose?

Though it is not wrong to cite papers written by you as part of Statement of Purpose, it is rather advisable to detail what research you have done and achievements as part of your research to be depicted in your story. As your papers are your achievements, they should be detailed but in a way that it interests the reader, as all panellist may not be interested to go to the cited paper and read through to know your achievements in the paper.


Avoid the prominent mistakes like repetitive information, inappropriate language and presentation


Q3. What is the difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement?

Though often considered to be terms used interchangeably, the focus in each of the statements is different.

In case of Statement of Purpose, the focus should be in depicting your strengths from the career point of view. You should stress on specifying your work experience, research abilities as well as educational qualifications.

Whereas in a personal statement the stress should be on your personal strengths, your values and virtues. Attributes of personality and character that prompts you to be an asset is what needs to be depicted.

Q4. From a lecturer or professor’s perspective, what do you expect in a Statement of Purpose?

In a Statement of Purpose, the lecturer expects something unique. Not the normal story which as a panellist he/she has to read over and over again. But this does not allow the candidate to write false accomplishments.

Include personal details to a limit that may interest the reader to judge your capability to take up the course. Include appropriate educational details and work experience that are directly related, or can be associated to the chosen career objective. Include a brief about your achievements that interests the panellist.

Q5. What are some good ways to improve a Statement of Purpose?

Improving a  Statement of Purpose requires you to be careful to avoid the most prominently made mistakes.

  1. Do not repeat information across sections in the Statement of Purpose or the ones that are shared in other documents shared with the panellist.
  2. Do not stretch to exceed the specified word limit.
  3. Be specific, avoid information that is irrelevant from the panellists’ point of view.
  4. Do not write the Statement of Purpose in bullet points, rather a story.

Q6. What is the word limit for a statement of purpose for graduate school applications?

In most cases, the word limit is between 400-800. Don’t go by just web-based estimations. The correct idea is to get the appropriate figure from the college or old samples from the college websites.

Q7. How do I justify the backlogs in a Statement Of Purpose for applying to a top university?

This is a challenge and you need to cover it up with the beauty of the language used.

When you mention about a backlog, try immediately, in the next sentence, to add a strong positive aspect or achievement. Also, a backlog in education can be covered up by strong achievements in extra-curricular activities.

If no such achievements are in mind. Immediately specify that it was a major learning and you have progressed tremendously because of your learning.

Statement of Purpose Samples

As a recommended reading a list of sample links are provided for you below:

  1. https://www.prepscholar.com/gre/blog/graduate-school-statement-of-purpose-sample/
  2. http://ls.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/statement_of_purpose.pdf
  3. http://www.majortests.com/gre/sop-sample.php
  4. http://www.myacpa.org/sites/default/files/Sample%20Statement%20of%20Purpose.pdf

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