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Study Abroad Guide

Statement of Purpose V/S Personal Statement

March 2019

Prospective International students applying to foreign universities are expected to write a number of essays. The two most common and important of them all are the Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement. There is a lot of confusion revolving around the two. While many think that both forms of essays are one and the same, others believe that there exists a difference between the two.

A Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement though quiet similar, carry significant differences. Understanding these differences is crucial in order to draft the essay in the right format. Let's have a look at the differences:

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Let's have a look at the differences:


Statement of Purpose: The main motive behind writing an SOP is to let the admission committee know your reasons behind studying abroad in their university, your dreams and aspirations, your career goals and your future plan. A SOP highlights a student’s professional goals.

Personal Statement: The purpose of drafting a personal statement is to show your personal side to the admission committee. Through a personal statement, a student is expected to show/describe his/her personal traits. A Personal Statement sheds light on the personal background of a student.


Statement of Purpose: An SOP is short in length as compared to the Personal Statement. The maximum word limit of an SOP is 800 words. Minimum being 500 words

Personal Statement: Unlike an SOP, a Personal Statement is longer in length which should have a maximum word limit of 1000. Minimum being 800 words


Statement of Purpose: SOP is more focused, strategic and to the point.

Personal Statement: This essay is descriptive in nature.


Statement of Purpose: A SOP follows a specific pattern which should be written keeping in mind the course you apply for and your long term and short term goals. Everything one mentions in the SOP should be in line and in relation to the course applied for and future goals. Thus, while writing a SOP, one might have to face rigidity.

Personal Statement: As a Personal Statement is descriptive in nature, it is more flexible to draft than a SOP. This form doesn’t only focus on academics and goals, but also on the personal aspect of the applicant’s life.


Statement of Purpose: In a Statement of Purpose a student is expected to mention his/her educational qualifications such as % scored in final year examinations, name of school, colleges or institutions from where he/she pursued those qualifications, workshops undertaken, participation in the extra-curricular activities, etc.

Personal Statement: A personal statement is majorly motivation driven. As mentioned earlier, it shows your personal side. In this form of essay students are expected to write about the challenges they have faced so far and ways in which they overcame these challenges and how have those challenges helped them to grow as person. One however need not restrict the personal statement only to talk about challenges. A student can also talk about inspirations that changed him/her as a person, about experiences that taught him/her lessons and developed his/her personality. Most importantly, in a Personal Statement, one must mention what it is it that has motivated him/her to reach this juncture of aspiring to study abroad.


Statement of Purpose: A Statement of Purpose follows a proper essay format whose tone is formal and provides relevant information. A Statement of Purpose purely provides information about a student, information which is more academic and professional based, to the admission committee. One can say that it is a Resume explained in proper detail.

Personal Statement: A Personal Statement has a personal tone. While drafting a personal statement, one is expected to narrate a story of one’s life. A personal statement needs to talk to the readers. While reading, a reader should feel connected to the writer. A reader should be able to feel the emotions of the writer. A Personal Statement must have a personal touch to it.


1.Both have a hidden purpose of convincing the admission officer of the applicant’s caliber to study in university.
2.Both focus on a student’s skills, interest and life at large.
3.Both forms of essays are divided into three parts which are the introduction, body and conclusion.
4.Both the essays are drafted to convey to the admission committee why and how an applicant stands out from a pool of applicants.

These two forms of essays are extremely crucial as it is the only chance applicants get to showcase themselves and convince the admission committee of being the perfect fit for the university, the reason being the existence of physical barrier/distance. So make sure to make the most of this opportunity.

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Edwise Overseas Education Consultant

We at Edwise streamline and personalize the process for each student irrespective of the destination, institution, course or any level of study. Our team of experienced professionals will provide you individual attention and exceptional guidance throughout your process of application. We provide assistance related to course selections, admission, visa, bank-loan and scholarships. We also host University delegates for direct student interaction and all these services are provided free of cost. We have established since 1991 and have been maintaining strong networks with over 725 universities in 16 countries, hence giving us a unique insight into the finest educational establishments worldwide.

Start your education overseas with valuable information on everything you need to know about studying abroad from study permits, temporary resident visas and how much it costs, to finding the best suited program for you.

Also read: A Simple Guide To Prepare For An International Education

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