I have my native friend who is willing to check my SOP. I just have added a part to present the reasons why I want to pursue in department X. Unfortunately my friend is on their vacation and I don't want to bother them. The rest of the SOP is already written and proofread. Of course I will proofread it myself, but in case I cannot find any mistake, how would this be bad if I just submit this SOP?

My TOEFL writing score is 23 btw.

  • 6
    Can you proofread this question and find anything wrong?
    – Nobody
    Jan 1, 2016 at 14:51
  • 6
    @scaaahu I use the singular they intentionally. It's acceptable for native speakers.
    – Ooker
    Jan 1, 2016 at 15:18
  • 3
    You almost certainly need someone to proofread it again. In the current question I can see at least 4-5 errors/awkward phrases that a native speaker would hopefully catch and fix.
    – Roger Fan
    Jan 1, 2016 at 16:36
  • 1
    @YuxinZhou I don't see why this question should be closed. In a perfect English SOP, a suddenly flaw will make the native speaker notice immediately. What I ask is when that notice appears, will it makes a bad impression on me?
    – Ooker
    Jan 1, 2016 at 17:12
  • 1
    Possible duplicate: academia.stackexchange.com/q/14203/19607 (situation is different, but answers should be about the same)
    – Kimball
    Jan 1, 2016 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


From the survey Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process by Drew Appleby and Karen Appleby:

According to several respondents, spelling and grammatical errors found anywhere in the application are an immediate Kiss of Death.

My job should finish here, but I want to summarize the paper after a quick skim. 5 major Kisses of Death are:

  1. Damaging personal statements: personal mental health, excessive altruism, excessive self-disclosure, and professional inappropriateness.

  2. Harmful letters of recommendation: undesirable applicant characteristics, letters from inappropriate sources

  3. Lack of program information: not researching the general focus of the program, not exploring how the applicant’s research interests fit the focus of the program.

  4. Poor writing skills: spelling and grammatical errors, poorly written applications

  5. Misfired attempts to impress

Thanks Roger Fan for linking this survey.

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