Preparing Your Rank Order List: Do’s and Don’ts for Foreign Medical Graduates


Now that you’ve finished your initial application, completed your interviews, and finalized your registration for the 2018 Match, there is only one thing left to do: prepare your Rank Order List (ROL). Earlier on the blog, we talked about the basics of ROLs — what they are, how they work, and what foreign medical graduates need to know from the start. Today, we were going to go further in-depth and talk about some of the Do’s and Don’ts for creating an ROL. That way, when the Rank Order List Entry opens on January 15, 2018 (mark your calendar!), you will have the tools you need for success.

DO’s for Creating Your Rank Order List (ROL)

When it comes to creating your rank order list, there are key things that you should make sure to do.


  • DO rank programs in the order of your true preference. The ROL is the place where you get to tell the NRMP where you want to train. After spending months or even years scoping out programs and trying to get a feel for the different training options, this is your opportunity to let the NRMP know which programs you think will best support both your personal and professional goals. Even if you worry that a particular program might be a “reach” for you, you should rank it at the top if it is the place where you would most like to complete your training!
  • DO include a both competitive and less-competitive schools on your ROL. While you should definitely rank your preferred programs at the top — even if they are highly competitive — you should also try to include programs with less competitive profiles on your list. That way, if you don’t end up getting matched to some of the more competitive programs, you won’t run the risk of not getting matched at all.
  • DO remember to certify your ROL before the deadline. In order for the match algorithm to process your ROL, it needs to be certified within the R3 system by 9:00 pm Eastern Standard time on February 21, 2018. Also, you should note that the R3 system is notorious for running slowly in the last few days before the deadline, so if you have your ROL ready in advance, DO upload it early.
  • DO remember that you can change ROLs that have already been certified. If you decide to upload your ROL early, you still have the chance to change your mind before the February 21 deadline — as long as you remember to recertify your ROL. The Match algorithm will only process the last certified ROL.

DON’Ts for Creating Your Rank Order List (ROL)

Preparing your rank order list might seem simple enough, but don’t be fooled! There are a variety of pitfalls that you can easily fall into if you’re not careful. Here are a few major DON’Ts for foreign medical graduates who are preparing their ROLs:


  • DON’T rank programs where you aren’t interested in training. When creating your ROL, you may be tempted to rank all the programs where you interviewed, and that’s a great plan if you feel comfortable training in any of the programs. However, if you have misgivings about a program and are only including it because you feel desperate to get matched, you might want to think twice about adding it to your ROL. When you certify your ROL, you make a binding commitment to train at any program where you get matched, so you should only rank programs where you would feel satisfied about (and celebrate!) a match.
  • DON’T include programs where you did not interview. As you already know, the Match is a computer algorithm. It won’t recognize any programs where you did not interview as options for a match. Therefore, it’s not worth the time to include any of these programs on your ROL.
  • DON’T wait until the deadline to enter your ROL into the system. Creating an ROL requires more than just writing down a list of programs — the R3 system can initially be confusing, so you should give yourself enough time to figure it out. Also, the NRMP warns that its servers tend to get overloaded in the last few days before the deadline, so it’s a good idea to give yourself extra time to make sure that you won’t have to worry about unexpected technological glitches.
  • DON’T forget to save your ROL after making changes. When you add a new program to your list or change the order in the R3 system, you have to click the “save” button before you leave the system if you want to return to your ROL the way you left it. It is important to note that saving an ROL is different from certifying it. Saving your ROL allows you to develop and change your ROL as the deadline approaches, but it is only finalized and ready for processing by the match algorithm when you certify it.
  • DON’T try to import an ROL on a mobile device. These days, you can use your smartphone or tablet for just about everything. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include every part of the residency matching process. In order to import an ROL in the R3 system, you need to be using a traditional laptop or desktop computer.



Whether you’re anticipating the last few months of the 2018 NRMP Match, gearing up for the 2019 Match, or looking ahead to future years, FMG Portal is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today for more information!