So here is the situation:

I am a Math student in a very well ranked French university, and I am going to finish my degree (i.e. 2-year MSc, after a 3-year BSc) in August. Therefore, it is time to think of the future: graduate school. In particular, I have been thinking to apply in the US, where many very good groups in the field I'm interested in are located. I have the highest possible GPA, followed advanced courses, research and teaching experience, potentially very good recommendation letters from well-know professors, received awards, and I'll be writing my MSc thesis at a well-known university on the East Coast.

However, I haven't been able to register for the GRE subject test soon enough due to personal reasons, and when I look at the US math graduate school, they almost all require the GRE subject test. Most of them even say that the applications without the GRE and Subject GRE will not even be reviewed, or will be very disadvantaged. The next session is in April, and the results must be submitted in December.

What is the reality of the graduation admissions system in the US? Should I try to apply anyway without the GRE Subject (i.e. are applications without GRE automatically rejected)? Should I wait one year to apply, until I can pass the GRE?


2 Answers 2


I'm afraid there's not really a lot you can do. Your best bet is, as always, to contact the departments you are interested in attending, and explain your situation to them. You'll need to have a very convincing reason why you weren't able to take the GRE subject test, and would need a waiver. They may be willing to make an exception; they may not.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what else you can do; the policies and deadlines are all well-known and published, and the departments are not required to give you special treatment.

  • 2
    You might also want to discuss this situation with faculty where you are now. They likely will be able to put you in touch with faculty members they know. When dealing with systems like this, having an advocate on the ground makes an big difference.
    – Zach H
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 20:18

Apply anyway.

If you come from a well-ranked university, and have top grades and excellent recommendations from professors there, it shouldn't matter that you are missing a subject GRE; this may disadvantage you slightly, but excellent grades, research and recommendations should easily make up for it. If you came from a less well-ranked university, the lack of a subject GRE would be a much more severe disadvantage.

There may be some universities where bureaucratic requirements will keep you from being considered, but I suspect this is not true at most private universities. The admissions office should be able to give you this information; email them, explain your situation, and ask.

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