How Does the Match Works?

The Match process is basically the last step in getting into Residency program. In order to participate in this process, students must first apply to residency programs by the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application System) and then interview at the programs from whom they received invitation.

After residency interviews, applicants submit a rank list of residency programs they would like to attend, while programs compse their own rank list of students they would like to accept as new residents. This information is submitted to the AAMC and the Match is done using a computer algorithm. The AAMC is responsible for conducting the Match each year.


The Electronic Residency Application system is a tool that facilitates applying to multiple residency programs at once. It consists of a computerized data entry tool. The electronic application gathers the usual information required by residency programs:

1. A student Profile (name, address, AOA status, etc...)
2. A curriculum vitae
3. Letters of recommendation
4. Deans letter
5. USMLE scores
6. Medical School Transcript
7. Personal Statement

Some of this documents are entered directly on the ERAS website or diskette by the students while other is entered by an officer in the student's Medical school. After entering the information the applicant chooses the residency programs he wants to apply to and the electronic application is automatically transmitted to them.

How many programs should I apply to?

The number of programs a student applies to generally depends on how difficult it is to get into a program for the student's preferred specialty. This can be assessed by checking the "Match" and "Unmatched" rates of previews years. As a general rule, the higher the unmatched rate for a given specialty (see table), the higher the number of applications recommended.

The Interview Process

A few weeks after submitting your application students are invited to interview by the interested residency programs. Usually residency interviews are very pleasant. Consider that as well as an opportunity for the program directors to get to know who you are, the interview is also an opportunity for you to get to know the programs. After their first interview students find out that they are doing more questions than the interviewer. During the day of interview you will meet faculty and residents. Remember to ask the most pressing questions to the residents (are the residents happy?, major problems with the program?, is the administration responsive to resident concerns?, call schedule?).

Unless told otherwise writing a "thank you" note to programs you interviewed at is considered appropriate. This can be done by regular mail or by email. It is very important to write this notes soon after the interview while memories of the interview are fresh for both you and the interviewers. This letter is a good opportunity to express your interest in the program and you will be ranking them highly (only if that's truly the case).


After completion of the interview process both the program directors and residency applicants should do a rank list of their preferred applicants and residency programs respectively. Both of this list are then entered into a computer database and the Match algorithm takes place. This part of the "game" is very important since matching through the NRMP is considered a contract and applicants are obligated to go to the program at which they matched. Therefore, you should never rank residecy program you are not willing to go to.

The key to success when doing the ranking is taking good note of what you liked or did not liked during your visits to the programs. It is important to write notes of the strengths and weaknesses of each program soon after each interview. Do not trust your memory because after doing a few interviews many programs will be similar and you will "mix" the information.

Your ranking is entered into the NRMP computer database using the "Rank Order List Input and Confirmation System" (ROLIC). Each applicant has access to the system via the internet at

How does the Match works?

After both the applicants and residency programs have entered their rank lists the Match process starts. The Match algorithm attempts to match each applicant with program of his/her preference. If residency program of applicant's first choice has an open position, the applicant is matched. This match may be overruled if another applicant who is more preferred by that residency program is reached. If that second applicant takes the last tentative spot in the program of choice, Match algorithm then attempts to match the first applicant with his/her program of second choice and so on.

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