The matter of fact is, I graduated from university (physics and mathematics) more than 4 years ago. I remember myself enjoying most of the subjects, communicating with professors and study mates, researching other non-curriculum topics.

Ever since graduation I have been working in IT industry. IMHO, those are not directly correlated and most of the topics, subjects, research are forgotten now.

Q: What to could be written upon forgotten subjects/staff/research?

  • While you studied in the university, you had documented stuff, such as lecture notes, homework problems and solutions, exam papers, right? Retrieve them.
    – Nobody
    Apr 9, 2016 at 13:00
  • 1
    @scaaahu sure, I did retrieve them and they are now on my table. But it doesn't give me anything. I could, of course, open a notebook and tell a lie. But let's be honest... Those days are gone.
    – sitilge
    Apr 9, 2016 at 13:03
  • 2
    Try to read those notes written by yourself. I had similar experience. After I retired, I retrieved the notes I took 30 years ago. At first, I thought those were written by somebody else. But, I recognized my own writing. Gradually, I remembered bit by bit by following the notes I made myself. Try hard.
    – Nobody
    Apr 9, 2016 at 13:08
  • What do you mean by obstacle?
    – adipro
    Apr 9, 2016 at 14:46
  • 1
    When I applied, successfully, for a PhD program my bachelor's degree was over 30 years old, and my master's over 25. To me, four years does not seem like a great time span. I didn't say anything about how much I had forgotten, just listed the fact of the degrees and when/where I studied for them. Apr 10, 2016 at 6:39

2 Answers 2


Revise them!

There could be possibly no other way to overcome the obstacle in your situation.

Sure you may be able to make out on what you already know and express your regret on what you forgot. But what is the end result? You don't remember what you ought to know.

Although this isn't something to be embarrassed about (as this happens to even to the best of us at some point of time), this isn't something you should ignore either.

Going through your ancient notes may bring nostalgia (personally that's why I keep them) but it's intent on effective revision depends on the quality of the notes themselves.

The Internet should be filled with tutorials and crash coursers to bring back what you once knew. It may also allow you to learn more than before too.

Forgetting doesn't necessarily mean memory erasure. Note that if you really did study your subjects with passion back then as mentioned in your post, it might not take long to remember them through revision.

Best wishes to remember your once forgotten subjects and hopefully learn new this in the process too.

  • 1
    If you learned these subjects 4 years ago, re-learning them now will be much easier.
    – GEdgar
    Apr 9, 2016 at 21:25

As for how to describe the situation in your SOP: describe your studies ("As a student at blah blah university, I studied this, this, this, took these classes"—what ever level of detail is appropriate for your discipline). Say what you have been doing since then: "Since graduating, I have been working in IT industry, doing (anything somewhat relevant)". If you do anything in particular to recall your knowledge (beyond just reading notes—like taking a class, etc), mention that as well.

If I'm reading you right, you're thinking you need to describe how well you remember your studies. Don't do that. Just say what you did, say what you did in the time that passed. Whoever is reading your app will know that your undergrad work is not fresh in your mind, and there's no reason to draw more attention to it. Your SOP is not the time to be humble and completely transparent.

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