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Statement of Purpose length

  1. Aug 30, 2009 #1
    How long should a statement of purpose be?

    I had an idea of what the optimal length would be, but I realize now it may be a bit long. The application for UT says it should be 2 pages or less. The online form lets you input exactly 2 full pages single spaced size 12 font. I wrote up my statement and I have 1 and a half pages single spaced. What I am wondering though, do they mean it should be 2 pages or less with double or 1 1/2 spacing and they just allow you to submit more, or are they thinking single space.

    I'm probably thinking too much into it, I have 986 words. Too much?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2009 #2

    Andy Resnick

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    I agree you are thinking too much about it. Say what you need to say, as succinctly as possible.
  4. Aug 30, 2009 #3


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    Well, your best bet if you're really worried about it is to contact the department at the University of Tongariro and see what they advise.

    Some rules of thumb you might want to consider:
    - quality over quantity
    - most people, including professors on selection committees, appreciate it when a writer gets to the point
    - if they're going to be sticklers for the rules, they'll generally be specific in the instructions
    - it's rare that a personal statement makes the application, it does however give the committee a picture of who you are beyond the numbers

    In the end, if you're happy with 1.5 pages, I doubt there's any need to push it to the full two pages.
  5. Aug 31, 2009 #4


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    Perhaps too much. First thing you should think about is imagine reading hundreds or thousands of statements of purposes.

    Then imagine getting an entire 2 or even 1 page single space 12 font paper thrown in front of you.

    How much detail would you read? Or would you even read it all!

    When writing these papers be careful of inserting too much fluff. Use long sentences (and paragraphs) sparingly and get straight to the point.

    If they say 2 pages I'd go for 3/4 of a page.

    I can tell you first hand, persons reading these letters do not want to read an entire life story, they want to extract the information needed to make a decision. Don't sell yourself short by adding unnecessary details.
  6. Aug 31, 2009 #5
    I'd agree with what others have said. Unlike, say, a med school application, physicists don't really care about your life story or what you did back in high school, your extracurriculars, etc. My recommendation would be to make sure every statement you make bears directly on your research interests and why you'd make a good physics researcher who is also capable of passing graduate classes and the qualifier. That typically only takes a page or so, single-spaced. If you've got 1.5, you're probably good to go.
  7. Sep 4, 2009 #6
    Mine was 1 page and one paragraph (so a little less that 1.25 pages), size 12, single spaced and I did just fine. Keep it 1.5 pages or less. Trust me, at this stage in your career, there is no reason you need more than that. And do NOT, under any circumstances, go over the limit.
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