I recently realized that I've given this list to a bunch of people in real life. Who knows if they actually used it, but this got me in to 4 pretty good grad school programs soooo... I'm sharing. You're welcome.
  1. Introduction
    Attention-grabbing first sentence/What got you interested in the subject: good to have specific example of something that really influenced you rather than a vague ‘ooo I just really love it’ kind of thing
  2. Paragraph 2
    How have you furthered that interest: this is where you mention specific college courses, internships, jobs, whatever; remember it’s not a resume though, the focus is on how these experiences have contributed to your knowledge of whatever degree you’re interested in, not a list of accomplishments. Short blurb at the end about why this has caused you to want to apply to grad school: good to give a plug about the particular school and its program here
  3. Paragraph 3
    Why you chose that particular school and program: what can the program do for you, the major benefits you see the program providing, what makes it unique, etc. What you hope to gain from the program? This is where you show them that you’ve actually researched the program and aren’t just applying to a million places with the same letter: name specific professors from the program whose areas of expertise you find interesting, or who you would like to work with while in the program
  4. Paragraph 4
    Your goals following completion of your Master’s: what are you going to do with it, where do you want to work, why you want to do that, why this particular program give you the best chance at reaching those goals
  5. Paragraph 5
    Show your dedication and work ethic: this is where you let them know you're a good investment and won’t crap out after one hard semester: how you are able to handle complex situations, diversity, how you’re able to think on your feet and adjust to new situations; blurb about why this would be important to you personally, not just professionally: they want to know you’re there because you want to be there and want to learn, not just because you think getting a Master’s will make you more money
  6. Paragraph 6
    What will you bring to the program: sell yourself in the last paragraph; analytical and research skills, work ethic, ability to problem solve and work independently; what makes you unique and a good fit for the program and its requirements. Last sentence should just be a flat out statement that the program would be better off with you in it...
  7. BOOM! Sit back and be amazed at your genius.