Difference Between Personal Statement And Statement Of Purpose

Difference Between Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement

When it comes to studying abroad, a Statement of Purpose (SOP) is always a top-most requirement. It determines a student’s girth, goals, and vision to the university. The reason why Statement of Purpose (SOP) has been given such importance is because it has the ability to decide whether a student gets into his/her dream university or not. But then, top universities, and let alone the majority of US Universities ask for more than just a SOP. They require a Personal Statement. 

Now how does one differ between a Statement of Purpose (SOP) and a Personal Statement?

A statement of purpose (SOP) is usually a 1000–1200-word document that requires you to explain what you are, where you are coming from, and what is your previous academic and professional background. All of your profile should connect with why you want to choose that particular course.


A personal statement ranges right from a 250-500 words document which totally depends on the questions asked by a particular university. A personal statement is majorly asked by US Universities to “go the extra mile” of effort from the student. The questions they ask can be related to challenges a student has faced, strengths and weaknesses, personal experiences, social experiences, community outreach, volunteering experiences, motivational pursuits, and many more. A Personal statement is something that is out of the box from what you have written in a Statement of purpose (SOP).

Key Pointers that clear the DIFFERENCE!

  • Reason (Why)

A statement of purpose (SOP) is primarily written to understand the student’s motive to pursue a course as per the previous background he/she holds. A personal statement is primarily written to understand a student’s skills apart from academics which makes him suitable to a university’s requirements.

Simply Said: SOPs say your external details and a Personal Statement says your thoughts through some experiences.

  • BackBone (Focus)

A statement of purpose (SOP) focuses more on the student’s information and how much the student is invested in pursuing that course through his previous academic accolades and experiences. A personal statement focuses more on the past experiences of the students which is always “PERSONAL” in nature to understand how much depth the student has to pursue that one course.

Simply Said: SOPs speak about your professional journey with a personal touch and a personal statement speaks about a life experience that can be of any nature.

  • Importance (Relevancy)

A statement of purpose (SOP) is important when it comes to the rejection or selection of a student. That’s why it is said that it can make or break your dream of entering into one. A personal statement has the same ability but it is majorly made when a student is applying for any scholarship or a top-tier university. Some universities do ask for both SOP and Personal statements to understand in depth about a candidate.

Simply Said: An SOP is a primary document that is in a basic selection criteria list. A personal statement is relevant as per the requirement of a particular university or for scholarship application.

What points are to be considered while writing A Statement of Purpose (SOP)?

  • A statement of purpose (SOP) should have every possible detail about you. Right from your academic pursuits to even your tiniest of projects, everything relevant to your chosen course should be mentioned,
  • Language of a Statement of Purpose (SOP) is majorly formal and it should not include informal phrases like “It just felt wrong” or “The course is perfect” etc. 
  • A statement of purpose (SOP) should always be written in a structure. Right from the Introduction to conclusion, connectivity should be maintained.
  • Make sure to emphasize how the course and university will connect you with your future goals.
  • Point out the advantages that the course provides, the curriculum it holds, and some insider details about the university.

What points are to be considered while writing A Personal Statement?

  • A personal statement should always have a story. Think of it this way, when you are explaining a scenario of your experience, it should feel like a Story.
  • You can use some informal phrases, but nothing which negates the lines or nothing which makes you sound very informal.
  • It is not necessary to structure a personal statement. As the word count is very low, the entire girth is about what you are internally. 
  • Point out the experience. As per the question asked by the university and then make sure to connect it with the course, or university. But never emphasize more on the course. It can be a conclusion, not a primary incentive.
  • Never get factual while writing a personal statement. Make sure that it is purely YOU! And YOUR EXPERIENCE!

Must Read: Visa SOP Tips For Australia 

One primary similar thing in both a Statement of Purpose (SOP) and a Personal Statement is using good vocabulary. A university is always a sucker for students who can write a very creative SOP or Personal Statement. If you are not heavily worded, always try and find synonyms to cover the document with sophistication to shine out.

To conclude, a statement of purpose (SOP) and a personal statement are as necessary as any other documents to get accepted into a university. But they are different, as one is a detailed version of you and the latter defines how have your experiences defined your career goals.

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