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I am applying to a master's degree in computer science and while writing my SOP I see two options:

  1. I participated in a bunch of competitions, read a bunch of papers, worked with a senior scientist and produced a draft of a paper which is about to be published. These are all chronological events. Should I describe each one of these events in a separate paragraph and explain what I have learnt from these that caused me to develop a research interest?

  2. Should I just directly mention all the events very briefly in 5 ~ 6 sentences and the next couple of paragraphs talk about the specific topics I am interested in conducting research in, without mentioning the motivation behind what got me interested in these topics.

While concluding I would like to mention few specific faculties whose work fascinates me. I would like to describe the works of few particular faculty members which I would like to work under(Possibly have them as my thesis advisor if it is fine by them).

Are either of these two options fine or which one should I choose preferably? Also how the should overly narrative(Tone and everything) of a SOP be?

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    Go with number (2). Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 4:30
  • And... an SOP is... what?
    – Nicholas
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 8:34
  • @Nicholas Statement of Purpose
    – Luigi
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 14:07
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    The short answer to the title question is 'no'. A document of type (1) is not really of interest to someone deciding whether to take you as a student. In my experience, things like that also often convey a lack of understanding of what research in the field is about (I've heard potential maths students talk about how inspired they were by being introduced to basic arithmetic or similar as small children).
    – Jessica B
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 17:10

2 Answers 2

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To answer your top-level question:

Absolutely not.

Your statement of purpose should be an account of what you want to do in graduate school, and your qualifications to undertake that research. Admissions officers do not want to read about everything you've done as a researcher since you were a child. Nor do we want a blow-by-blow account of your research career.

Instead, briefly summarize your history, and move on from there. The bulk of your essay should be what you plan to do, not what you've already done.

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To the best of my knowledge nobody cares how you got interested in a specific topic in details but the idea which got you there is important (i.e. something that shows your point of view to the topic). After this you better jump into the main body and start writing experiences.

I strongly recommend to avoid being arrogant i.e. do not mention all the positive points directly but try to put them between lines in a smart manner e.g. if you have worked with a great scientist you do not mention that but having a sentence like "when I was working with Dr.xxx" or "Dr.xxx whom I used to work with encouraged me to do this" or stuff like that.

about "I would like to describe the works of few particular faculty members which I would like to work under(Possibly have them as my thesis advisor if it is fine by them)." I'd say in a maswter program you have enough freedom to choose your supervisor so there is no need to mention in the application phase! that option is for PhD applications usually. On the other hand when you mention your special interests, people out there figure out which direction you'll probably go and who is better to be your supervisor. But in the section that you are showing your enthusiasm for this program you can name 1 or 2 faculty member and a keyword of what they do just to show that this is not just a random application but you know where you are applying to!

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