I am an International student, I applied to universities in US for PhD in High Energy Physics (theory). I just realized that I have made a couple of typos in my statement of purpose/writing sample. To be more specific, I repeated a word (like "year year" instead of "year") in two places. Due to anxiety of waiting to hear from universities, I am worried about all the factors that come into play. How much of a negative impact will this have on my application ?

P.S. - I have done graduate level courses in quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics. I have one publication in JHEP and decent GRE scores.

  • What is your TOEFL score?
    – Nobody
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 7:24
  • TOEFL is quiet low - 92 (Ibt), GRE - 322, Physics GRE - 870/990.
    – Surya
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 7:28
  • I wouldn't be worried about typos in your application, as long as they are seldom and do not obfuscate anything. Worst case scenario: they thought you were lazy about grammar/spelling.
    – JNS
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 8:42
  • They are just mild careless mistakes of word repetition. I got worried because in many blogs they stressed deeply not to make any mistakes is SOP. Thank you very much.
    – Surya
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 9:01
  • Though I would worry, but it should not be a big problem in institutions which does work. You are not applying for English literature, are you?
    – phoxis
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


How significant a typo is rests largely on the purpose and the level of competition. If you were being considered for a prestigious fellowship, typos in the statement of purpose could and have been used as reasons to screen people out of the competition (because there were too many strong candidates).

For traditional admissions, on the other hand, while such sloppiness cannot help you, it's not normally severe enough issue to disqualify you, unless the typos become so numerous that they interrupt the flow of the writing.

  • Even tough your reply has me a little worried again, it really makes sense. Thank you.
    – Surya
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 17:56

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