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Residency Match 2021: The Ranking Process

After completing the interview process, applicants and programs each submit a rank order list (ROL). Residency program directors submit an ROL listing all the candidates they're willing to accept into their program, in order of preference. Applicants submit an ROL listing all the residency programs they're willing to attend, in order of preference. Applicants' ROL can include programs from different specialties as well as different position types (e.g., categorical, advanced, preliminary). They may also submit a supplemental rank order list to secure a preliminary spot for any advanced programs they rank.

The NRMP uses a mathematical algorithm to place applicants into residency and fellowship positions. To make the matching algorithm work best, applicants should create their rank order list in order of their true preferences, not how they think they will match.

AAMC’s Careers in Medicine (CiM) has developed the Residency Preference Exercise (RPE) to help applicants evaluate their individual requirements for a residency and to compare programs based on those criteria. As they review notes from their interviews and start to prepare their list, the AAMC we encourage applicants to use the RPE to score and compare programs. Finally, review the Characteristics of Entering Residents data within CiM's specialty profiles for information on the characteristics of applicants who matched in their preferred specialties.

*If you are not able to access AAMC’s CiM, please contact Dr. Nai-Fen Su (MCW AAMC CiM Liaison) to request the access.

Couple’s Match Ranking Strategies

Applicants must register individually for a Match in the Registration, Ranking, and Results® (R3®) system before one partner can send a couple request through the R3 system to the other partner. Applicants MUST be participating in the same Match in order to couple. Once an applicant sends a couple request to the partner, the couple fee is due regardless of whether or not the request to couple is accepted. Once the partner accepts the couple request, the partner must pay the couple fee. The process is completed when the Couple Status field in the R3 system reads “Accepted” and Fee Status is “Paid”.

Note: Couple fees are non-refundable, even if applicants later decide to uncouple.

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