Rank Order List: Hints and Tips

As Match Week approaches, it’s time to focus on the last task before the Main Match – creating your Rank Order List. What each applicant values most in choosing a residency program will vary based on the individual. However, there are still a few things that we recommend that everyone take into consideration when ranking programs.

Rank every single program that you would consider attending

Make sure that if you’re not listing a program that you interviewed with, that means you’d prefer not to match at all over getting matched into the program. If this is not the case, make sure to include those programs in your list as well.

  • Only include programs where you’re willing to go. Review the contract, since Matching there is a binding agreement.
  • Include programs that are both highly competitive and others that are not so that you have a higher chance of Matching.
  • Rank at least between 10 and 15 programs. The longer your list, the higher your chances of matching. There is no disadvantage (except fees) to having a longer list, and you want to minimize the risk of not Matching at all.
  • Don’t rank programs that you didn’t interview with.
  • Remember that in some cases, it might still be better for you to go unmatched instead of Matching to a program you really don’t want to go to.

Take messages received from programs with a grain of salt

Since programs are allowed to communicate their interest in an applicant, you may get some messages from them. Even though it’s tempting, try not to let this affect how you rank your programs. You don’t actually know what it means or how they’ll ultimately rank you. They may say something positive, but it is never a guarantee. You also don’t have to worry about programs seeing your ranking, since how you rank programs is completely confidential. Programs won’t know where you ranked them, and vice versa.

Rank your programs based on your preferences only

When you’re deciding the order in which to rank programs, take stock of your priorities that you want to consider most. That may include things related to your personal life (location, people, etc.) or what you want to value most in what the program offers (such as its size, reputation/prestige, benefits, specific opportunities with fellowships or research, and more).

The data shows that the majority of applicants end up Matching with one of their top choices. Trust the algorithm, and rank your list based on your own preferences. The Matching algorithm is designed to try to place you in your most preferred program, so there is no reason to overcomplicate things. Even if a program feels like a “reach”, if it’s your top choice, rank it accordingly. Remember, the most important thing is that you Match somewhere where you can be happy and succeed. And, if a program invited you for an interview, you already are a strong candidate for the program.

Once you’ve finalized your list, make sure to enter your Rank Order List in the R3 system early. Don’t risk being affected by last minute technical issues or the server crashing!

And remember, you can always ask program directors, other faculty members, or even residents at any program for more information if you have questions left that you want answered.

Get help organizing your Rank Order List using Match A Resident’s Rank Assist Feature:


Do you have questions about the ranking process? You can give us a call at (858)-221-8510 or send an email to support@matcharesident.com! We look forward to hearing from you.

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