Strategy for Ranking

Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program for Positions Beginning in 2020

Key Takeaways

  1. Rank all applicants that would be acceptable. You may rank as many applicants as you wish. Submitting a longer list of applicants may reduce your chances of being left with unfilled positions.
  2. Rank applicants in order of your true preference, with the most preferred applicant as rank #1, the second most preferred as rank #2, and so on.
  3. Do not consider where an applicant might rank you when constructing your preferences.
  4. Do not rank any applicant that is not acceptable for the program, even if the program might have unfilled positions after the Match.


You must enter and certify a separate Rank Order List in the NMS Match System for each program offered in the Match.

After you have evaluated all the applicants to your program(s), you must determine for each program the order of preference for applicants on your Rank Order List. For each program, rank your most preferred applicant first, your next most preferred applicant second, and so on. For residencies offering multiple programs in the Match, it is permissible to rank the same applicant on more than one program's Rank Order List for the residency and to assign a different preference ranking to the applicant on each program's list, if desired.

For each program, your Rank Order List should reflect the true desirability of each applicant to that program, regardless of how you think an applicant will rank the program.

Your best strategy is to rank applicants in order of your true preferences, without consideration for how you think any applicant will rank your program.

If your program has more than one position, the specific rank numbers you assign to your most preferred applicants, up to the number of positions to be filled from that list, are not significant. For example, if two positions are to be filled from a Rank Order List, the specific rank numbers (1 or 2) assigned to the two most preferred applicants are not significant, as positions are available for both of these applicants. However, for less preferred applicants (ranks 3 and onward) the specific rank numbers are very significant as they indicate your preference for each of these applicants if the program cannot match with both of the most preferred applicants.

You should rank all applicants who are acceptable for each program. Applicants generally apply to and rank several programs, and therefore Program Directors who do not list all acceptable applicants for each program may not fill all their positions. By submitting a longer list of applicants, you may reduce the likelihood of being left with unfilled positions.

Each program will be matched with the most preferred applicant(s) on its list who have ranked that program and who are not matched with programs they prefer.

Programs that rank fewer applicants than the number of positions available (e.g., 2 applicants ranked for 3 available positions) will, by definition, have one or more unfilled positions in the Match. Similarly, programs that rank the same number of applicants as positions available (e.g., 3 applicants ranked for 3 positions) run a very high risk of having one or more unfilled positions in the Match.

Do not rank any applicant who is not acceptable for a program, even if the program might have unfilled positions after the Match. You are reminded that according to the Residency Agreement, the Match results are binding; you must accept the applicant(s) matched to your residency. It is the responsibility of the Program Director to ensure that each applicant ranked by the residency is eligible for training at your institution.

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