Importance of Motivational Letter / Statement of Purpose

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Summary of this article in one sentence:
How a motivational letter makes you stand out from the crowd.

A motivational letter is also known as:

  1. Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  2. Letter of Motivation (LOM)
  3. Letter of Intent
  4. Admission essay

If you are applying to a graduate program, it may come to you as a surprise that the motivational letter or statement of purpose is the most important part of admission requirements for most universities around the world. It would not be wrong to call it the “heart” of the admission process as it is the only document that represents your thoughts, writing style, professional and graduate study passion. Of course, your academic grades and letter(s) of recommendation are important but the motivational letter can either create or vanish your chances of admission to graduate programs.

Just that you know Personal Statement is different from a statement of purpose/motivational letter and focuses on your past while the latter focuses on your future interests.

Importance of Motivational Letter vs Grades

Many students think that grades are the most important part of a master’s admission but that is not true. Academic grades do play a role but not entirely. Each university gets thousands of admission applications every year and the university has to find who would best suit their study program, faculty, and university.  Of course, there will be many more candidates with good grades than the number of admissions could be granted. So the grades alone cannot decide who is the best matching candidate. Therefore, a motivational letter plays a very critical role in the selection of admission for prospective students. This is a chance for those prospective students who do not have extraordinary grades to play on equal grounds.

How Does the Admission Committee Evaluate a Motivational Letter?

Every university has its own criteria for evaluating a prospective student’s motivational letter. The following is the most common criteria of evaluation:

  1. How good are your writing skills
  2. Have you done your research about the graduate program and university before applying
  3. How clear you have conceptualized your graduate study plans
  4. How well your previous studies, experiences, interests, skills and abilities match the graduate study program
  5. Whether you are the unique candidate with a special purpose and passion they are looking for
  6. What has influenced you for your passion and what is proof that you would be able to reach your graduate and professional career goals
  7. Whether this university be the right place for achieving your goals

I am repeating, admissions committees receive THOUSANDS of applications each year nationally and internationally. Now, it’s your job how to grab their attention from the start to the end. This only document gives you the only opportunity to express yourself you otherwise could not. And I am sure you don’t want to waste an opportunity presented to you.

What Does a Motivational Letter/Statement of Purpose Include?

A motivational letter attempts to match your previous education, professional, and graduate interests with the interests of the study program and faculties associated with the program. Imagine this letter as your representation in front of the admission committee. It a greater chance for you to express yourself and convince them why you are the best candidate for a program. The following shows what chances have you got with this single letter:

  1. Your only chance to let the admission officer/committee listen to you.
  2. Express your interest in the intended study programs, associated faculties, research the university.
  3. Here you can communicate anything that is not clear from other admission documents. For example, any research or project work you have done that relates to the research in the university.
  4. Show your scientific writing skills as it is one of the most important skills for graduate-level students. This may be the only document that shows your writing skills as compared to other admission documents.
  5. You should include your academics, relevant short courses, research or work experience, skills, abilities and talents you got, relevant accomplishments, and leadership qualities.

Take your time to write in a way that you can create a positive image of yourself.

Importance of Motivational Letter/Statement of Purpose by Example:

Below is a real-life example of a graduate student that would help you understand the importance of motivational letters for master’s admission to German and other universities.

“I applied to many master’s programs at recognized German universities in winter semester 2019. My bachelor grades are good. I meet all the eligibility criterias and documents were complete but I was accepted by none. After all the rejections, I finally realized that I didn’t write a successful motivational letter. I was quite depressed but didn’t lose hope. To be on the safer side, this time for winter semester 2020, I applied to other countries besides Germany. Now that I  knew that a motivational letter plays a huge role in the admission process, I spent enough time to make a difference this time. Therefore, I gave it my best and ultimately, it helped me securing a place at 5 master’s programs in Germany, UK, and Australia. I must say that writing a motivational letter can be very boring or at least in my case. But taking the importance of the motivational letter seriously got me admission. I wish I had realized this earlier to save the time and effort I spent the second time. Never the less, I am happy that I was successful with my admission at last.”

How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Writing a Motivational Letter/Statement of Purpose

There are a number of mistakes students make while writing a motivational letter/statement of purpose which results in the rejection of their admission. I’ll put all of them here so that you can avoid them (You are welcome to let me know if I am missing any).

  1. Writing just one more letter
    • This is not a letter that you would write to a friend but you are convincing the admission committee about your future goals. And you are not the only one, thousands of others attempt to do so every year.  So, don’t write from your gut but follow the guidelines of scientific writing and how a motivational letter is written.
  2. Not knowing the building blocks of the motivational letter/statement of purpose
    • Either you are required to 1, 1.5, or 2 pages motivational letter, it is comprised of an introduction, body, and conclusion. In each part address certain points which are explained in this guide how to write a motivational letter.
  3. Not doing research about the study program, adjacent faculties, and university of their interest
    • The admission committee pays special attention to those candidates who have done proper research about the study program offered by the faculties and the university itself as they looking for students who would match all of the above. Spend enough time researching about it and reflect on it in your motivational letter how your previous research, projects, course modules, etc. are related to the intended program, faculties and university.
  4. Not investing enough time while writing
    • A successful motivational letter is a masterpiece and as you know, masterpieces are not built in a day or two. Since it represents you and your future goals, there is no reason why it should not be given the time it requires. If you really want to get admission to the program, you must invest time in it.
    • It should be done step by step. How to write a motivational letter or statement of purpose. Prepare a rough sketch, get back to the guide, and review your sketch one more time.
    • Do your research about the program and university, embedded in the letter, and review again. Continue this process until you have achieved your masterpiece.
    • Use simple language and no complex vocabulary. Grammatical and sentence structure mistakes are punished so avoid that too.
  5. Don’t repeat your CV or resume as this letter should not be a reflection of your CV or resume
    • Some students translate their CV into text. Seriously, don’t do this. The admission committee can read your CV and no one has the intention to read a text CV that’s why a CV is often asked in tabular format. Also, your CV tells about your past accomplishments and generally, all or most recent ones are mentioned. It doesn’t by any means tells what you want to do. If it does, please learn more about how to write a CV. Though you would include in a motivational letter some relevant past that explains and relates to your interests but this different than repeating your CV or resume.
  6. Be factual, don’t write, I did this and that
    • For example, write what you specifically did in a project and what did you learn from it. How it helped you increase your interest in the domain you want to apply to.
  7. Be precise and consistent, don’t include everything, use your space consciously
    • It is difficult to bring everything on a page that will reflect your interests and passion for the program, the university, and your professional career. But that’s exactly what the admission committee wants to see in you. As an analogy, you should be enclosing the whole sea into a glass container.
    • Only include what is relevant to the domain of your interest and treat anything else as waste or trash. You might have achieved or have greater goals but if they are not relevant to the domain or program of interest what waste the precious space? Any words or topics you want to write, make sure you have chosen smartly.
    • The admission officer must follow through like a storyline, otherwise, s/he may get lost and distracted. As a result, they would not be able to make a proper sense of your writing. That means you failed to waste the chance presented to you. Therefore, you need to choose your words precisely and be consistent.
  8. Review and reflect on your writing
    • When you are writing you must review and reflect on your writing at every stage. Read it out loud and make sure everything you wrote makes sense. You are and have followed through all the guidelines.
  9. Get it reviewed by others
    • Once you are able to present it to others, show it to someone who has been successful through the process. Take tips from them but don’t make a final decision about the program details if they are not completely aware of the program and university or your interest relevancy.
    • Definitely, we don’t recommend agencies for this purpose. They may trick you into spending money endlessly. If they are honest with the future of the students, then it’s your choice. Some universities don’t allow that and if that is your case, I would completely advise against any agencies or third parties review. You must follow through with the admission rules and policies of the university.

Writing is a scientific art and it must be treated similarly. You have to invest time to be able to draft a successful motivational letter. It’s not difficult as you may think it is. And I promise you don’t need anyone else to write this letter for you. Universities also don’t allow that you should not let anyone else write it for you. They want to know your writing skills as explained above. No one can explain your past and future to the admission committee as yourself. You just need to understand the building block of the motivational letter and start with a rough draft. Once you have a rough sketch you’ll be able to improve on that. Trust me, the majority of those who were able to secure admission to a graduate program didn’t draft their motivational letter in one go. All went through the same cycle, starting roughly till they reach their final and successful motivational letter.


The above might have helped you to understand how important is the motivational letter or statement of purpose for securing your place at a master’s program. Therefore, we have prepared this comprehensive guide for students on how to write a successful motivational letter/statement of purpose. You’ll find every detail that must be addressed in the letter. Moreover, in the future, there will be many templates available that you could use for the motivational letter/statement of purpose on our website which you can download for free and modify for your use case.

Our team helps with reviewing motivational letters and other documents in a close loop with you. Feel free to contact us if you need help with the motivational letter/statement of purpose or any other admission document at [email protected] Note: We don’t write motivational letters for any student neither we recommend this. We only guide you in the right direction, so that you could give it your best shot without wasting your time.

If this article has helped, we request you to recommend our startup to your peers and friends who would want to study in Germany. BTW, thank you for dropping by, and don’t forget to check our other articles and subscribe to our newsletters where we send you weekly updates for studying in Germany.

P.S. I will be updating this article very frequently. Feel free to contact us and let us how to improve it or what would you like us to add.

Quick Links

Learn about other documents requirements:

Admission requirements for Germany in this guide for 2021 >>

How to write a successful motivational letter – The ultimate guide (2021) >>

Letter of Recommendation – A Complete Guide (2021)>>

How to write a CV (tabular) for graduate admission >>

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