Strategy for Ranking

2021 SSO Breast Match


Key Takeaways

  1. Rank all tracks at programs where you applied that would be acceptable. You may rank as many programs and tracks as you wish. Submitting a longer list of tracks may reduce your chances of being left unmatched.
  2. Rank tracks in order of your true preference, with the most preferred track as rank #1, the second most preferred as rank #2, and so on.
  3. Do not consider where a track might rank you when constructing your preferences.
  4. Do not rank any track that you consider unacceptable (i.e., you would not want to be matched to the track even if it was the only position available to you in the Match).

Ranking Strategy

You should rank all tracks at programs participating in the Match to which you have applied and with which you are prepared to accept a position. You may rank as many tracks as you wish. By ranking more tracks, you may reduce the likelihood of being left unmatched.

You should rank your most preferred track first on your Rank Order List, your next most preferred track second, and so on. Your Rank Order List should accurately reflect the true desirability of each track to you.

The algorithm will match you to the most preferred track on your list that ranks you and does not fill all its positions with applicants it prefers.

Because of the way the matching algorithm works, you do not need to consider how you think the track will rank you when preparing your rankings. You also should not give in to inappropriate pressure when constructing your Rank Order List (e.g., "I'll rank you high only if you rank me high").

Your best strategy is to rank your choices in order of your true preferences without consideration for how you expect to be ranked by any program. If you rank tracks using any other strategy, you will increase your chances of getting a worse result.

Do not rank any track that you consider unacceptable (i.e., you would not want to be matched to the track even if it was the only position available to you in the Match). The results of the SSO Breast Match are binding; if you are matched to a program, you must accept your result.

Q & A

  • What is the best strategy for ranking?

    In order to get your best possible result, you should rank tracks in order of your true preferences.

    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 example, if you decide to order your preferences by how likely you think it will be to get into the program, you may not get your most preferred placement.

    Do not rank any track that you consider unacceptable (i.e., you would not want to be matched to it even if it was the only position available to you in the Match).

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  • How many tracks can I rank?

    You may rank as many tracks as you wish. There is no limit to or supplemental fees for the number of tracks you rank.

    There are generally more applicants than there are positions available, therefore there is strong competition for most positions. By submitting a longer list of rankings, you may reduce the likelihood of being left unmatched.

    You should rank all programs participating in the Match to which you have applied and with which you are prepared to accept a position. Do not rank any track that you consider unacceptable (i.e., you would not want to be matched to it even if it was the only position available to you in the Match).

  • If I really want one program, do I have a better chance of matching to it if it is the only choice on my list?

    No. The algorithm tries to match you with the most preferred choice on your list regardless of the number of rankings submitted on your Rank Order List.

    If you limit your list to only one choice, you have the same chance of matching to that track as if you had ranked 100 additional choices. The key difference is that by having more choices on your list, you give yourself the opportunity to match to a different choice, if you cannot get your #1 choice.

  • Can the order in which I rank tracks cause me to be left unmatched?

    No. The order of the choices on your Rank Order List does not determine whether or not you will match. Whether or not you can match to a track you ranked is determined by the track's preferences on its Rank Order List.

    If you can match to only one of your ranked tracks, you will match there regardless of where the track is ranked on your list. If you can match to more than one track on your list, the order of your choices determines where you will match. If you cannot match to any of the tracks you ranked, you will not match.

  • Can I rank a program where I did not apply or interview?

    The system will allow you to rank any program that is participating in the Match. However, it is very unlikely that you will match to a program where you did not apply or interview.

    Programs use the applications and interviews to evaluate applicants and decide who would be acceptable to the program. If the program does not rank you on its Rank Order List, you will not match to the program.

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