Algorithm & Rankings

Algorithm & Rankings

How the Algorithm Works

  • How does the Match algorithm work?

    The matching algorithm uses the applicant Rank Order Lists, the program Rank Order Lists, and the number of available positions at each program to find the best possible outcome for each participant.

    The algorithm starts with an attempt to place an applicant into the program that is most preferred on the applicant's list. Each applicant's Rank Order List is traversed "downwards", from most preferred program to least preferred, until the first program is reached at which the applicant can be tentatively matched, or until the applicant's list of choices is exhausted. Each program accepts applicants "upwards" on its Rank Order List, continually removing less preferred matches in favor of more preferred applicants, until the program is matched to the most preferred applicants who wish to be matched to the program.

Ranking Strategy

  • What is the best strategy for ranking?

    In order to get your best possible result, you should rank your choices in order of your true preferences. Rank all programs to which you applied that would be acceptable. Do not rank any program that you would not want to be matched to, even if it was the only position available to you in the Match.

    The algorithm is specifically designed to give each participant their best result if they rank their choices in order of true preference. Using any other strategy may cause you to get a worse result for yourself. If you decide to order your preferences in another way (e.g., by how likely you think it will be to get into the program), you may not get the best possible result.

Submit Rankings

  • How do I submit and certify my Rank Order List?

    Applicants must submit and certify their Rank Order List online in the NMS Match System by the Rank Order List deadline. The Rankings User Guide includes information on how to:

    • Add a program to your Rank Order List
    • Delete a program from your Rank Order List
    • Reorder a program on your Rank Order List
    • Certify your Rank Order List
    • Print your Rank Order List
    Related Links:
  • Can I rank a program where I didn't apply or receive an interview?

    Yes, although it is highly unlikely that you will match to that program. Programs typically review applications, interview, and evaluate applicants to determine who they are willing to accept into the program. If you did not apply to or interview with a program, it is unlikely the program is considering you for a position. If you are not ranked by a program, you cannot match to that program.

  • Do my rankings from Phase I affect my rankings in Phase II?

    No. If you do not obtain a position in Phase I of the Match, you will be eligible to submit a new Rank Order List for Phase II of the Match.

    The Rank Order List you submit for Phase II is completely unrelated to the Rank Order List you submitted for Phase I. None of the rankings you submitted for Phase I will be carried over to Phase II. You may apply to and rank any program that is participating in Phase II on your Phase II Rank Order List.

    If you discover that a program to which you previously applied in Phase I has a position available in Phase II, you may apply to that program again for Phase II, and rank that program on your Rank Order List for Phase II (regardless of whether or not you included that program on your Rank Order List for Phase I).

  • What should I do if the program I want to rank is withdrawn?

    You should leave the withdrawn program ranked on your list. If you leave the program on your list and the program's participation status in the Match becomes active before the Rank Order List deadline, that ranking will be used in the Match. If the program remains withdrawn, that ranking will not be used in the Match, and your list will be processed as if you had not ranked the withdrawn program.

  • I can't find the program I want to rank in the NMS Match System.

    Only programs that are registered for the Match may be included on your Rank Order List. Consult the List of Participating Programs to ensure the program you want to rank is registered for the Match.

    If the program is not included in the List of Participating Programs, contact the Program Director directly to clarify the program's participation status in the Match.

    Within the NMS Match System, programs can be searched by Match Code Number, name of residency, location, program description, Program Director name, or program Match Code Number as they appear in the List of Participating Programs.

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