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During my undergrad studies, my first two years went fine but in third did not go well as compared to the first two years. Consequently, there was a drop in the GPA. But there was one good project at that time and I and my roommate did some independent research work during this time which we got published in beginning of our final year.

The main reason for the drop in GPA was due to trouble in catching up with the subjects. I just could not handle my studies at that moment.

Though it was the third year when I realised which field of computer science I wanted to specialize in, so since then all my projects, independent research work and even some research work under my professor has been related to that domain.

I must also add that my GPA increased every semester since the drop.

I wanted some suggestions on how to present this in a positive way in an SOP?

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Personally, I would avoid making excuses for a drop in grades. They are what they are.

Instead, you should highlight the independent research you did and published. That's a huge achievement for an undergraduate. If it's obvious to the reader that you put a significant amount of effort into that research and learned a lot, that should outweigh the fact that you didn't learn as much in class.

If the grad school programs you are interested in do still have a coursework component, then grades will matter more than they do for a research-only course. But if they're good enough, research experience will make up the rest. That, glowing letters of recommendation from supervisors, and a good interview are worth more than perfect grades.

Don't waste words making excuses. Show you are emotionally invested in your research. Make promises.

Anecdotally, my GPA tanked from A- in my final undergraduate year to B (overall) in the first year of my Master's program. I had a tendon injury and couldn't write for nearly 3 months, so I only just scraped through that first semester with a C average. Way behind on my research project, I put that ahead of my second semester papers and did very well in the research but with average coursework. Those grades got me my dream PhD job, and I haven't even finished my Master's thesis yet. I never mentioned the injury because no-one ever asked about my grades.

  • Thanks for your advice. Kindly tell me what do you mean by Make promises ? – Animesh Pandey Nov 3 '13 at 16:53
  • @AnimeshPandey By that I mean you should demonstrate why you are motivated, what you want to achieve, and why you're capable of doing that. – Moriarty Nov 3 '13 at 20:44

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