I am applying to graduate school for mathematics. The school I am applying to requires the GRE subject test. I was unable to take it, however (both exams in Spring and Fall 2021 were cancelled due to the pandemic). I ended up emailing the generic grad school admissions office and they said that it would be alright if I submitted without the subject test (although they didn't really answer my question if my application would be seen the same as others--only something about "holistic" review).

There is no place on the application to mention how COVID-19 affected my application. So, I was wondering if I should mention the fact that I did really try to take the GRE subject test in my statement of purpose, which is the only place I can think of mentioning it (I guess I would like the admissions committee to know explicitly, instead of the email I sent to the generic grad school email). Or, should I just not even bother mentioning it?

2 Answers 2


Don't lose track of the purpose of the SoP. It is to detail your future plans, both for study and thereafter. It is not to explain the past or to make excuses.

I assume that if they are making exceptions for GRE scores then they will want to "level the playing field" for all candidates. I can't guarantee it, of course. But I'd assume that it can hardly hurt you if it is only used 'at the margin' for final decisions on a few candidates.

If you can work a short phrase (less than a sentence) into the SoP as an introduction to something more appropriate there then it is probably benign. But use the SoP to build your case for acceptance and your plan for achieving success.

However, you might also seek the same assurance from the math department on handling GRE that you got from general admissions. The admissions committee (if one is used) will be centered there.


You should include

The GRE Subject Test I intended to take was cancelled due to COVID.

but no further detail because admissions will be really tired of hearing about this problem.

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