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Last modified
11/13/02


Writing the Statement of Purpose

"Word for word, the graduate admissions essay is perhaps the single most important prose anyone will ever write. In ways that students rarely understand, it can be the ticket to the future of your choice, or not."

Important Info - please read this before proceeding 

The major goal of the personal statement is to communicate to the admissions committee what it is about you which makes you stand out from the other applicants. The more competitive the school, the larger the pool of applicants with strong GPAs and GRE scores, the more important the personal statement becomes in the selection process.  Therefore it is important to devote ample time to writing your statement.
Remember your statement should catch the attention of the reader from the fist paragraph, from the first line - this is extremely important.

There are two general approaches for writing your personal statement. The first one is chronological approach, which is the most common one (which does not necessarily mean the best!). The big mistake one can make here is to describe everything beginning with your childhood very thoroughly. I  advise you to use no more than one paragraph to write about your childhood and school years (two is ok if something really extraordinary has happened to you - Olympiads, teachers and books are not to be considered extraordinary). Do not use generalities, be as exact as possible. Try to write mostly about your research interests, research projects you have worked on, scientific seminars, conferences or summer schools you have attended so the general is be to the point and the point of the statement is outstanding you, your interests and your research. Also don't spend valuable time telling the admission committee about our wonderful alma mater - MIPT, they are either already know about it (most likely) or it won't help. Check out examples of good chronological statements in Sample Statements.

The second one is thematic approach. In this case the statement is organized around one or two key ideas, usually it is the field of your research or your major interest in science. The statement might be either chronological or not, you might site your childhood experiences in the middle of your statement to prove some point, and write about your current research in the very beginning. The point is that your key idea should shine through the structure of the statement.

Definitely there are many more ways to organize your statement since it is very unique and personal writing. There is no best way to write your statement, keep working and you will succeed!

To get more detailed advice check out General Outline of the Statement of Purpose

Please explore the links on the left. I hope you will find the information I presented there useful. I am always happy to receive your comments, suggestions or questions.