3 Step Formula to write Deadly Effective SOPs in no time flat
Written by Sukrut
When it comes to converting B-school calls, my philosophy is 80% work should be done before you even set the foot in the door. (80/20 Principle)
What most people do when they want to write SOP/B-school application form?
They instantly google for "How to write SOP?" and check the links and if they get unlucky like most of the people do, they probably end up reading horrible SOPs, this way their journey to their dream B-school ends officially. R.I.P.
Why does this happen and what does these people do?
Most of the candidates gather there have no clue about writing SOPs, everybody just copy-pastes someone else's SOPs and make some basic changes.
In the process, everybody copies ready made templates and imitates what everybody else is doing and cycle of lameness continues.
These people rush through SOPs and then prepare their interview answers based on unnecessary information they had written in their SOP.
That's the backward way of thinking.
Let's talk about forward way of thinking.
I think people should think of SOP as their marketing document, something you write by doing extensive research getting into interviewer's head.
You should not rush SOP because your interview is dependent on it.
You take the time first and reap the rewards later, it doesn't work other way round.
Most people rush through SOPs and then work very hard on preparing for interview.
It's like building 100 storey building on a shaky foundation, if you don't spend enough time in getting it right, it's irrelevant how hard you prepare because you are going to get screwed depending upon whatever information you have written.
Average performer rush through SOPs and works hard for interviews. Top performer spends time in getting SOPs right and prepares relatively less for interview than others (because he has already front-loaded the work)
Now, let's get down to process.
Some Do's of SOPs
1. Do research before you write even a single word
2. Have a clear narrative (Use 20 second test)
3. Write in plain English and then convert it into SOP & Interview level English
4. Check if there is logical coherency in writing (Read it aloud or read it in front of your friends and get feedback)
5. Try to be uniquely different from the crowd by thinking out of the box ( Use Story vault to use different stories to uniquely position yourself
6. Follow no of words guideline. Don't abuse it for any reason. (Use my 3 step process)
7. Use words you normally use when you speak and write
8. Show, don't tell
Now let's get down my favorite 3 step formula which I learned from Ramit Sethi
1. Choose your narrative
2. Trim the fat
3. Write bullets that sell
1. Choose your narrative
In writing SOPs, all the hooks, unique strengths and capabilities come into play.
Narrative is the message which someone should get even after glancing at your SOP for 20 seconds. (20 second test)
In SOP, you combine your deep research with your hooks, strengths and capabilities to cater to Interviewer's needs using Empathy Mapping model to brainstorm)
Instead of rambling I I I , you focus on what I did, and this is what I learned, this is how I can be a great fit here, and this is how I can be an asset to this Institute.
2. Trim the Fat
Cut down unnecessary information in your SOP. Just get right to the point. And that's true with SOPs especially those with word limits on lower side where you need to include everything in 250 words or finish your answer in 100 words.
Go through your SOP line by line and ask yourself these 2 questions
1. What I am really trying to say in simple English ?
2. Is it really necessary to include this ?
Every single word in your SOP must earn its place onto the page.
Now, let's take a look at how most people write their SOPs.
"I am a focused and proactive person and always strive for excellence in my endeavors."
In simple English, it means I am smart and sincere.
It doesn't really say anything and it's not congruent with narrative of your SOP.
1. You want to engage your reader
2. You need to use details as much as possible. 3. You need to use numbers/figures as much as possible and frame your experience to directly answer the Interviewers concerns/questions/objections before interviewer even consciously express it. (This is called Pre-framing)
How does this sound ?
"I learned Facebook Advertising in less than 10 hours using key principles of skill-hacking and predictably produced more than 200% ROI on practically every single campaign I ran."
This is what I call "being specific" "writing bullets that sell" Now, you can make it more interesting depending upon how much word limit you have.
That's where Story Vault Technique comes into play which is again learned from Ramit Sethi. When people walk away from reading your SOP after 20 seconds--they should get snapshot of your profile, the kind if person you are.
If you want to differentiate yourself from others, then you can't write like everything else. When you include stuff which doesn't really matter then you cant include stuff which really does matter.
This is simple 3 step process to crank out great SOPs, if you want to learn the entire process where I go in depth giving you plenty of examples, hooks, strengths, positioning angles, story-vault technique to stand out of the crowd.
I have created a facebook group for those who are seriously preparing for GD/WAT/PI. I share unconventional yet highly effective advice which I don't share anywhere else on my blog or emails. Here is link to join the group for free. GD/WAT/PI Preparation by MBA Ka Keeda
Unconventional Advice on cracking Personal Interview
I would not have believed that my SOP will look this neat, had you mentioned me the same, some 5 days back. I really thank you for transforming my SOP in a matter of 2 days. Aravindh P G IIM A 2015-17
At first I was wondering how to write even 200 words, forget about 600 words but then your tips really helped. And when I read your SOP, I just started out with mine and I ended up having written way more than 600 words Divyashree Panda IIM B 2015-17
Your Framework is not just about SOPs, it also helped me going deeper in my mind and finding out myself Srinath Reddy IIM Shillong 2016-18 ISB Call Getter & Creator of no. 2 Highest Traffic blog on Medium.com
He helped me find all the missing pieces in my SOP and guided me with his own experience along with existing SOPs Sayantan Das IIM B 2016-18
Because of his help I was able to know some of my greatest strengths and achievements. He helped me to logically connect all my points which is the most difficult phase of writing any SOP. And finally through mind mapping techniques and some sample SOP, he helped me to write a good SOP Prince Raj NMIMS Hyderabad
I have always believed in the magic of story-telling in spicing up your answers (maybe too much?). But, Sukrut helped make my work more professional Sanskriti Singh NMIMS 2016-18
IThe word by word verification and your valuable apt inputs/corrections made my SOP a better/refined one Abhikit Dalai IIM B 2015-17
I could write my SOPs just because of your course Shreya Sood NMIMS 2016-18A
I can literally see the difference between my first SOP and now the final one, and getting examples to see how others are writing SOP calmed my nerves and I was able to justify my profile Topendra Kumar (Aatish Toni) IIM C 2016-18