For students: Optimizing your match is quite simple.
Please don’t overthink it.
Our algorithm is going to try to match you to a slot, in the exact order of your preferences. If your #1 track accepts you, it will not consider your lower preferences. You will never know how that site ranked you (beyond that you must have been somewhere on their list), and they will never know how you ranked them. If your #1 track doesn’t accept you, only then we move on to #2. If you list a pie-in-the-sky site that doesn’t list you, the algorithm moves on to your next choice, no harm done. We’re not just saying this… that’s how it’s programmed. So…
Rule #1: Rank tracks according to your honest preference.
On the other end of your list, rank every track from which you would accept an offer. If you don’t list it, you cannot get that slot, no matter how that site ranked you, and once the ranking window is closed, there is no way to go back and change your mind. Conversely, you are obligated to accept the slot you match to, so please do not rank tracks you would be unwilling to accept. We know these are hard choices.
Rule #2: List every track you would accept, and none you would not.
For sites: It’s a bit more complicated.
For each track, you’re going to make a number of positions available. If you’re using a single ranked list, simply list the number of slots available in that track, and rank students in your honest order of preference. If a student you list tries to match your track, and the track has space, it will make a tentative match. Once the slots are (initially) filled, when a student tries to match your track, if you ranked them higher than a student tentatively assigned to your track, the new student will bump the student you ranked lowest. Notice that the algorithm doesn’t care whether your track was the student’s first or last choice. It simply selects for your site’s order of preference.
Just as for students, please list every student you are willing to accept, and no student you are unwilling to accept. There’s no way (within the match) to go back and match with a student you declined to list.
Some special cases:
When you have multiple (say N) slots in a given track, you don’t need to worry about the relative rank of the first N students. Any of those students who match to you cannot be bumped, because you haven’t ranked enough students higher to bump them (and bumping is done according to your rankings).
If you are considering a certain student for multiple tracks, they will match those tracks in the order of their preference, not yours. Go ahead and list them on both tracks; your relative ranking of that student between two tracks will not affect their match, unless they are bumped from one of those tracks (by students you prefer for that track) onto the other.
Additional features, such as shifting unfilled slots between tracks, and using sublists to fill a track, may be available for some matches.