Preparing the Statement of Purpose is at the core of the applications process. This detailed conceptual video shall help you in preparing an impactful SoP that will lift up the overall quality of your MBA Application.

How to write an MBA Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose, or SOP, is the backbone of the entire MBA application process. In about 400 to 750 words you will be asked to explain why exactly you are pursuing an MBA, what your career goals are and how your background combined with the training you hope to receive at that school will help you achieve them. In your SOP, you will have to give the committee a good look at who exactly you are, stretching from your background to your vision for your future. As this is the most important essay you will have to write we will extensively discuss both the content expected in the SOP and several effective structures for the essay. Each element that you include should give the reader a message or “takeaway” about you indicating a quality the committee will want to see.

First of all, you will need to include a summary of your academic background. Here, you could begin by giving the name of the institution you have attended and its reputation. If your institute is not particularly reputable, but you have struggled with a lack of resources, try to portray your attendance there as an achievement in the face of adversity. Write about your grades and any notable accomplishments. These can include merit scholarships received, any merit lists your name has appeared on or accolades in academic Olympiads. Any serious academic work done should definitely be included in this section. Some takeaways that can be demonstrated through your academic history are an academic bent of mind, subject matter expertise, achievement’s early for one’s age etc.

Moving on, the professional background section must be used to demonstrate your professional maturity. This can be illustrated by mentioning any notable achievements in your professional career like promotions, awards, and recognition. Further, the contributions you have made to your organization or field are also extremely important, as are other notable qualities of your employment such as team skills, multi-cultural or global exposure, versatility in roles, and notable professional qualifications, like a CFA. This section can really be used to display almost any type of valuable takeaways, like leadership skills, honesty and work ethic, clarity of vision etc. The third section is of your extracurricular involvements. This section should only be included if another essay specifically questioning you on it has not been asked for. This is a broad field that can include any noteworthy activity you have participated in outside of your academic or professional careers. They include but are not limited to skill clubs and social groups (e.g. Toastmasters) community service, event management, sports or the arts, entrepreneurial stints (even if unsuccessful), volunteering or part-time roles etc. The value of this section is that it can be used to plug other holes in your experience. For example, if you have little leadership experience in your professional career you may be able to make up for that deficiency by highlighting leadership roles you may have played in voluntary engagements or non-work projects. You can use this segment to provide takeaways on a versatile persona, people management, vision to make an impact etc.

The next two sections are closely interlinked. The questions of why you wish to pursue an MBA and why from the school in question. The committee asks these questions because it wants to gauge just how much thought you have put into your pursuit of this degree. A good answer here will indicate maturity, clarity of purpose, and show that you are a level-headed candidate who understands the ins and outs of the MBA degree. To provide a good answer, four good objective reasons for each question must be included. For the first question, some reasons you might want to consider are gaining a deeper insight into the discipline of your career choice, acquiring career enhancement, garnering a formal managerial education etc. For the second question, you can suggest that the program’s teachings have a synchronicity with your career goals, provide experiential learning and a commendable placement record for MBA post grads etc.

After this, you will want to talk about your career goals. There are several key mistakes that applicants make when dealing with this area since it can feel a bit esoteric and requires more than a bit of introspection. What you need to do here is mention clear and specific goals that will indicate a well thought out professional plan on your part. What you should not do is give generic or wishy-washy answers like “managerial position at a multinational firm” or “a position that will help me realize my true potential”; other bad ideas are mentioning unreasonable or irrelevant goals, and not ensuring a sync between background, short-term goals, and long- term goals. The right way to go about this is to outline a clear profile and industry you wish to enter. In case of a career shift, build a case for it and sound passionate about the same. You have to mention specific midterm and long-term goals at say 10 and 20 years post graduation and the short-term goal should lead to the long- term goal.

Connecting both your short and long-term goals to your background, there should be an overarching career vision, in which you speak about the impact you want to leave on the world or your industry. Show the reader that you have a vision for the future - something meaningful and grand and that you have also imagined a path leading to it. By doing the same, you will be able to portray yourself as a leader and business schools love future leaders. They also love candidates whose visions of the future include ways to be a great alumnus.

It is always good if your SOP can include some unconventional talking points. It is useful to mention if you have overcome a serious impediment in your life such as serious illness or poverty. It is, of course, exceptional if you have some type of truly outstanding skill or talent, or show signs of being a prodigy.

Now that we have covered the type of content that should go into your SOP, let us take a look at five effective structures for the essay with a breakdown of how much of the word count each section should occupy.

Structure 1:

Structure 2:

In this version, the career goals are mentioned after the history portion and are used to inform the need for an MBA.

Structure 3:

In version 3, the career vision is used as an introduction to the candidature and it informs the rest of the essay. With the background and “Why MBA; why here” sections explaining the vision.

Structure 4:

Version 4 is quite similar to version 3 but in this one, professional history is given greater apparent importance by placing it before the other two summaries.

Structure 5:

Version 5 is markedly different from the others. Here you use a philosophical or moral stance to introduce yourself and present all subsequent behaviors and beliefs as a function of that stance.

Now that we have covered content and structure, let us end with some broad tips that will generally help you write your SOP. First of all, as has been mentioned previously, the SOP should feel personal. It is not about the information presented; most of the bare facts are already there in your resume and application. It is about you as a person and your inner thoughts. Avoid a mechanical feel; let the committee hear your real voice.

Do not use essay templates, old essays or any other plagiarized material. This method is inefficient and highly unethical. If it is discovered that you plagiarized any portion of your application, you will immediately be disqualified from admission. It can even have repercussions if discovered years after the fact.

There is no singular “right” way to write an essay. Naivety present in your original style will only help your essay stand out. If your essay does not sound like a “typical MBA essay” that is good. Candidates who project uniqueness alongside quality are the ones who get admitted. Hence, do not try to force your voice into a particular mold, rather use natural language. It is okay to take a second opinion on your work but do not get too bogged down by the opinions of others. Throughout the essay, make sure to maintain a positive and inspired tone, and above all, focus on delivering proper takeaways.

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