How to write a Scholarship Winning Statement of Purpose

The increasing cost of college tuition poses a major challenge for numerous families in affording higher education. As a result, many individuals explore scholarship opportunities abroad. Each school may have various application requirements, but most commonly, schools request a Statement of Purpose along with other documents to gain comprehensive insights into the applicant’s profile. Regrettably, many applicants often struggle to effectively represent themselves in their statements of purpose due to a lack of knowledge on how to write one or an underestimation of its significance in their application.

If you are seeking help on how to write a good statement of purpose that can get your dream scholarship, then this article is for you! Here, we would be showing you how to write a great statement of purpose among other relevant information!

What is a Statement of Purpose?

Scholarships for higher education come in various forms, such as academic, athletic, community, faith-based, and need-based scholarships. Your statement of purpose serves as a window for the scholarship committee to understand who you are and why you deserve financial support for your higher education. A statement of purpose (SOP) is a written document typically required as part of the application process for educational programs, scholarships, or job applications. Also known as a letter of intent or motivational letter, this document provides valuable insights to the admissions committee about your identity, your desired field of study in graduate school, your reasons for pursuing it, your preparedness, academic plans and research interests. SOP allows applicants to showcase their academic achievements, relevant experiences, and future aspirations, providing the admissions committee or employer with insights into their suitability for the opportunity.

With an SOP, you can provide explanations for any aspects of your record that might require further clarification. You can highlight your strongest and most relevant points, especially those not well-covered elsewhere in your application, to assist the reviewers in understanding your achievements better. While the specific content of your SOP may differ based on the scholarship type, there are essential elements applicable to all scholarships which would be discussed further in this article. Interestingly, a strong SOP can compensate for a mediocre academic profile. However, before we proceed it is important to distinguish between a statement of purpose and a personal statement as many students make mistakes a lot in this regard.

Statement of Purpose v Personal Statement

A Statement of Purpose is typically a longer document, usually around two pages, where applicants elaborate on their academic background, research interests, career goals, and why they are a suitable candidate for a specific program or institution. On the other hand, a Personal Statement is a shorter essay, usually around one page, that delves more into the applicant’s personal motivations, inspirations, achievements, and challenges they have faced. It allows applicants to showcase their personalities, experiences, and how they have grown as an individual. The personal statement is more personal, allowing for elaboration on aspirations and motivations.

Standard Format for a Statement of Purpose

1. Write the statement of purpose in clear paragraphs, similar to an essay. Limited use of bullet points is acceptable, but keep the number to a minimum.

2. The standard operating procedure should typically be two pages long, written in 12-point typeface, and double-spaced throughout. Aim for a word count between 800 and 1000, depending on the font size and style chosen.

3. Divide the standard operating procedure into five to seven paragraphs, each consisting of approximately 150 to 250 words.

4. Keep the SOP straightforward and avoid the use of colourful language and visuals.

5. If you are requested to submit a handwritten essay, use black ink. Otherwise, use 1-2 single-spaced pages in 12-point font.

How to Write a Scholarship-Winning Statement of Purpose

1. Do your Research

Start by exploring the websites of the schools, departments, and programs that interest you. Take time to review brochures and booklets, paying close attention to the aspects of the programs that resonate with you. Next, delve into the research interests and projects of the faculty in your chosen schools or departments. Familiarize yourself with publications from faculty members who intrigue you. Additionally, read recent articles from your desired research field to gain a comprehensive understanding of its development, current challenges, and problems.

2. Brainstorm and Reflect

Now, it’s time to reflect and brainstorm on paper. Consider your intellectual journey and the significant moments that led you to your current research interests and your choice of school or program. Identify the influences or role models that guided your decision, and pinpoint the appealing qualities they possessed. Examine your personal characteristics, such as integrity, compassion, and persistence, and reflect on how they contribute to your potential for success in your chosen field or profession. Think about how you can demonstrate or document these traits effectively. Evaluate the skills you possess, such as leadership, communication, and analytical abilities. Understand why you selected your research topics, field of study, and undergraduate major. Define your career goals and envision where you see yourself in the next 10 years. Consider what you hope to achieve and what drives and motivates you in pursuing your aspirations.

3. Organize your Statement of Purpose

Based on the outcomes you get after brainstorming and reflecting, identify a central theme or topic that stands out in your reflections and brainstorming. Create an outline using bullet points and brief comments to strengthen the central theme of your statement of purpose. Note that this is still the drafting process and not the main statement of purpose you would submit. Also, focus on your life experiences and provide specific examples. When writing about your interests you should list only the aspects that genuinely excite you, avoiding fabrication.

Your outline should preferably cover the following:

  • What aspects of the school/department/program appeal to you?
  • What are your research interests?
  • How are you preparing to address the issues in this research area/topic, such as research experiences and courses?
  • What are your future goals for graduate school, such as pursuing a Ph.D.?
  • What are your career goals, such as aiming for a professorship?
  • What characteristics of the school/department/program can support you in achieving your goals?

4. Drafting your Statement of Purpose

Now, you can move on to drafting your statement of purpose. The steps below would help you:

  • Step 1:

Start your statement of purpose with what you are applying for. Use an attention-grabbing opening to capture the committee’s interest. A captivating beginning can set you apart from other applicants and make a strong impression.

  • Step 2:

Stand out from the competition by demonstrating a focused outlook on why the college is the right fit for you. Conduct thorough research to highlight the school’s features aligning with your goals, portraying yourself as a credible candidate deserving of a scholarship.

  • Step 3:

Highlight your research areas and specialization, while showcasing your passion for the field, as it will captivate the committee’s attention and leave a lasting impression. Showing consistent efforts to enhance your knowledge reflects your eagerness to learn and is highly valued. Additionally, you should highlight all your qualifications which have prepared you to embark on this academic journey. Also, choose past experiences that align with your plans, as they demonstrate your capabilities and strengths. Picking relevant examples will lay the foundation for the story you want to tell in your essay.

  • Step 4:

Stand out from the competition by demonstrating a focused outlook on why the college is the right fit for you. Conduct thorough research to highlight the school’s features aligning with your goals, portraying yourself as a credible candidate deserving of a scholarship.

  • Step 5:

Highlight the reasons you deserve the scholarship. Your goal is to persuade the committee that you are the perfect candidate. Each scholarship type requires different justifications. For instance, for a merit-based scholarship, emphasising your exceptional grades and knowledge, while fulfilling the eligibility criteria is vital for all scholarships.

  • Step 6:

Clearly state your goals, mentioning the specific company, role, or entrepreneurial plan. This focused attitude conveys your commitment and determination to achieve your objectives, and a combination of hard work and self-motivation is a powerful force. Also, highlight your future contributions to the school and how you plan to actively participate in campus activities to create an impactful change. Ensure that your pitch aligns with your past contributions and extracurricular involvements to make your claims more credible.

  • Step 7:

Conclude your statement of purpose concisely as it leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Briefly recap the key points you discussed in your statement of purpose. This reminds the reader of your strengths, achievements, and motivations. Tie your conclusion back to the specific scholarship you are applying for. Also, express appreciation for the opportunity to apply for the scholarship and the reader’s time in considering your application. A genuine display of gratitude can leave a positive impression. Finally, craft a memorable closing sentence that leaves a powerful impression. Consider using a thought-provoking quote, a call to action, or a sentence that summarizes your passion and determination. Keep in mind that your conclusion concise and straight to the point. Also, avoid using new information or going into needless details.

4. Proofread and Edit

Finally, after preparing your Statement of Purpose for the scholarship, read it aloud to yourself to catch any mistakes. Also, seek feedback from as many individuals as possible including friends, colleagues, and professors. This will aid in identifying any errors or areas for improvement, resulting in a flawless scholarship SOP.


Crafting a good SOP is one way to increase your chances of getting a good scholarship. This is why you need to carefully draft this document in a way that impresses the academic committee reviewing your application. The good thing is we have outlined all you need to know about writing a scholarship-winning statement of purpose. By following these tips, you can distinguish yourself from other applicants and obtain the scholarship you’ve been aspiring for!


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