How to Maintain Vocabulary, Grammar, and Word Limit in SOPs and Application Essays?

By Sristy Sharma Updated On - May 06, 2022 10:23 AM

You know what and how to write an SOP, but what about the words, and the approach you need to take in its format? Do Grammar, Vocabulary, and Word Limit affect your overall impact on SOPs? Read below to find out.

When choosing to study abroad and applying to foreign universities, the admission committee requires aspirants to attach scores of certain recognized language proficiency tests (IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, Duolingo, etc). This applies to students coming from non-native English-speaking countries such as India. 

Apart from the proficiency test scores, the universities also require applicants to submit their SOPs or Application Essays and Letter of Recommendations in the same language. While academic transcripts and other test scores provide quantitative background information about the candidate, an application essay or SOP offers a good qualitative background.

Regarding this fact, we have prepared several guides for the students interested in applying for these institutions, covering an array of topics such as How to write an SOP, what are the common SOP mistakes that should be avoided, etc.

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Importance of Vocab, Grammar, Word Limit in Application Essays and SOPs

SOPs and Application Essays are studied by the selection panel or committee of a university abroad to decide whether the candidate is suitable for the program they are applying for or not. To decide this, there are a few questions that  are focused upon by the panel;

  • Whether the student is clear and aware of their choice.

  • Does the student have an idea about what the program is about?

  • Is the student one to put their efforts into really learning and knowing the subject?

  • Does the student have a vision or a plan about what they would like to do with the knowledge they shall gain during the course?

If these questions get answered satisfactorily by the assessed SOP, it is clear that the candidate is fluent enough in  English, enabling them to perform the following functions:

  • Writing, Speaking, Reading, and Listening in English in an academic setting.

  • Can understand the content delivered through the language.

  • Can derive conclusions and infer information.

  • Can use the language to convey their thoughts and opinions.

  • Can ensure that their conversation is completed in the manner of understanding to the other person.

In this manner, the selection panel can understand the actual capability or fluency of the candidate in the language and can decide if their linguistic skills are enough to pursue the course of choice.

Vocabulary in Application Essays and SOPs

Every language has a wide range of words available for its users. Among all the available words in the language, the words known by the person are together considered as their vocabulary.

Importance of Vocabulary

As the selection panel uses SOPs to determine the qualitative strength of a candidate, the vocabulary used by them in their Application Essay or SOP becomes an important factor in affecting the decision of their acceptance.

  • It helps determine the ease at which the person can use these words. 

  • The higher the number of words and the ease of use, the stronger is the vocabulary of a person.

  • A strong vocabulary allows the candidate to have a larger scope of language use.

  • An advanced vocabulary knowledge determines the familiarity of the person with its subjects, such as books, papers, conversions, culture, etc.

  • Easier to adapt to the culture where the language is practiced.

  • Easier to gain knowledge using the language

Tips on How to Make an Impressive Use of Vocabulary

To ensure the right presentation, you need to practice a balanced combination of impactful, mature, and easy terms. To do so, the following can help; 

  • The use of heavy and advanced words must be in moderation. 

  • Moderately simple vocabulary must be used to simplify complex words or phrases. 

  • Use of professional terms indicates that a student works on vocabulary building and is aware of the field.

  • The panel would rather have an enthusiast than a flatterer. You simply have to show your genuine interest without the usage of flowery words

  • The knowledge about the field must be at least at par with your current qualification level if not pushed forward.

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Grammar in Application Essays and SOPs

Grammar is the structure and rules used and to be complied with while using a particular language. 

Importance of Grammar

Grammar’s importance in Application Essays and SOPs a language can be understood by the following:

  • It makes the sentences and words meaningful and easily understandable. Bad grammar can be offputting for any reader and especially the admissions committee.

  • It provides structural and organized support to the language. 

  • It helps in making a good presentation in SOPs and application essays, which often become the deciding factor in selecting a candidate.

Tips on How to Make an Impressive Use of Grammar

To ensure proper presentation in Application Essays and SOPs, the following must be kept in mind:

  • The use of voices must be as per the intended impact of the sentence. Active voice must be used for conveying information needing notice, and passive voice for those either not important or that have to be subdued.

  • The proper use of grammar must not be allowed to hinder the effect of other important aspects such as vocabulary and especially word count.

  • Use of clauses, idioms, and proverbs is recommended, but only where they make sense and do not hinder the actual information. They must not be all over the essay but as support.

  • Punctuations must be correctly used.

Word Limit in Application Essays and SOPs

Word Limit is the number of words that a candidate can use in writing their SOP or Application Essay. It is, sometimes, declared by the universities and at other times no particular count is made known.

Importance of Word Limit

Irrespective of whether the institution you are applying to has declared the word limit or now, it is better to write within the general SOP and application essay word limited to the following reasons:

  • There are numerous applications received by the selection panel of any university. It is, therefore, inevitable to limit the time spent on reading the Application Essays or SOPs. 

  • When the essay is too long, it often tends to be distracted with irrelevant information.

  • Sometimes even when the long essays convey all the important information, the mere length of it might seem to be exhausting to look at. They might procrastinate reading or begin with a dampened spirit.

  • A journey is always better when satisfactory and long enough. A too-short application essay or SOP fails to provide that and also has only limited information.

Tips on How to Handle Word Limit

The following pointers can help in following the word limit for application essays and SOPs

  • When the word limit is given as a single number, then it should not be seen at its face value. A variation of 100-150 words more or less must be applied for minimum and maximum word limits respectively.

  • When there is a range recommended as a word limit, the middle point of this range must be used to determine the final word count with a variation of 10 words.

  • When there is no SOP word limit recommended, then the range of 600-900 or 700-1000 must be followed.

  • The college essay word limit adherence must not be used as an excuse for poor information divulge. To avoid this, the word limit, the structure of SOP, and relevant information must all be sorted out.

  • Recognition of relevant information on a priority basis is recommended.

  • Word limit is not an excuse for poor flow or over or under indulgence of information.

  • Allocate the range of word count to each paragraph or information head before starting the SOP or Application essay.

Can SOP Exceed Word Limit?

An SOP cannot exceed word limit if the limit has been mentioned by the university. If the university that the international student is applying to asks for the SOP or Application Essay to be within a certain word limit, then this limit cannot be complied with. However, in case no limit is suggested then the advised word limit in this guide may be extended, but within reason.

Are SOPs for Bachelors and Masters the Same?

SOPs for Bachelors's and Masters's courses are not the same. SOP for PhD is also different. This is because of the difference in the level of study, which requires different academic backgrounds. International students can refer to our guides on how to write an SOP for undergraduate courses, SOP for Masters, and Statement of Purpose for PhD courses.  

How Long Should an SOP be for Masters?

The length of an SOP for Masters should be ideally 800-1000 words. Although this length is recommended in this guide, it generally remains the same for all types of SOP. Students can refer to our guide on How to write SOP for Masters for a detailed description.

Are there Any Samples Available for SOP writing?

Yes, there are samples available for SOP writing. Students who want to check for practical examples on how to write the SOP, can search for SOP samples and refer to them. They can confirm the points made in this guide through these SOP samples. Students can also search for SOP samples for MS, or samples of statement of purpose for PhD courses.

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