Difference between a Statement of Purpose (SOP) and Personal Statement

SOP vs Personal Statement
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Planning to study abroad? If yes, then you will be required to draft various documents like the letter of recommendation, statement of purpose (SOP), personal statement (PS), etc. Before you proceed with drafting these documents, it is important to understand their purpose.

For quite a long time now, there has been confusion among many in understanding the difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement. Many are under the false impression that an SOP ans PS are the same. 

It’s common to get confused between the two given that they hold many similarities. However, they do have striking differences which are a little tricky to understand. You need not have to worry because you have arrived at the right place to get rid of the confusion.

While both are essays, they are written very differently. Let us understand the basic difference between the two to help you write both, an SOP and a personal statement.


SOP: An SOP is written to convey to the university what you want to do by studying the course. The SOP must include the purpose of choosing to study the chosen course. You must include your educational qualifications and work experiences and other technical information about yourself.

Personal Statement: A personal statement is written to let the university know how you are as a person. In a PS, you are expected to talk about your personal life which must include your family background, the challenges you have faced and the ways in which you overcame them. You can also talk about your source of inspiration, your achievements, and how have you grown up as a person. Your personal statement must show your personal side to the university’s admission committee.


SOP: A statement of purpose must contain a minimum of 500 and a maximum of 800 words.

Personal Statement: A personal statement must be of 1000 words. The minimum words required is 800 words. 


SOP: A statement of purpose is focused and concretes in nature. While writing an SOP, you must always keep the main points in mind and strictly stick to those.

Personal Statement: A Personal Statement is majorly descriptive in nature. It must be written with the purpose of making the reader feel personally connected with you. 


SOP: As compared to the PS, an SOP is rigid and requires to mention only limited things like the educational qualifications, participation in extracurricular activities, projects undertook, short term and long term goals, the reasons behind deciding to study in a particular university, etc.

Personal Statement: This form of essay is flexible in nature and can be bent as per your convenience. It allows you the freedom to write important details about your life like an event that changed you as a person, or. However, be careful of not revealing too much about your personal issues.

Writing these essays might seem difficult but once you understand the purpose behind writing the two, the writing process will definitely go smooth. With the above-mentioned differences in mind, it will become easier for you to draft both the essays with ease. 


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