I was reading through Harvard's graduate school admissions FAQ, and a paragraph said: "The physics department's admissions committee reviews each candidate's entire application, including statement of purpose, transcript, experience, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation -- the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation being especially important. Beyond that, the department cannot determine in advance the likelihood of success in any particular case." This was quite surprising to me. I've always heard/read from people that the transcript (grades) is the number one deciding factor in grad school applications, and that admissions committees are usually quite indifferent to statements of purpose (unless its bad- then it will lower your chances). So my question is: how much truth is in that paragraph?