The Match: How Students Get Offers

This page provides an overview, videos, and links to learn more about how students get offers to New York City's DOE public schools. 

There are four main factors that help match students with programs:

1. Your child's application choices

The program choices you list on your child's application and the order in which you list them matter! The matching process is designed specifically to try to match every child with their highest possible choice: we will always try to make an offer to your first choice first. If this is not possible, we will then try to make an offer to your second choice as if it were your first. Therefore it is very important to list your choices in your true order of preference—there is no better strategy.

2. Available seats at each program

The number of seats available differs from program to program. Additionally, many programs have more applicants than seats available, meaning the chance of receiving an offer there is lower.

  • For middle and high school admissions: The more in-demand a program is, the lower chance of getting an offer to it. Therefore, it's a good idea to apply to at least some programs that are lower demand, meaning that they have fewer applicants per seat. You can see these programs' applicants per seat on its MySchools page. Please note that what makes a program high demand is different for, say, a middle school program than for a high school program: learn more on each admissions process's page.
  • Please note that for the purposes of admissions only, middle and high school programs admit students in two seat groups: general education students (GE) and students with disabilities (SWD). Your child's application will show which group they are in; this is based on their current IEP, not something you choose.

3. Programs' admissions priorities and your child's priority group for each program

If a program uses admissions priorities, this means it admits students in groups and prioritizes some groups of students for offers before others. All applicants in priority group 1 receive offers before any applicants in priority group 2, and so on.

You can see any program's admissions priorities on its MySchools page. If a program does not use admissions priorities, it will simply list one priority group, such as "1. Priority to all New York City residents."

4. Programs' admissions methods, when applicable

A program's admissions method is the way it admits students.

  • Most admissions processes and programs use an open or zoned admissions method. This means that students' academic records are NOT seen or used in admissions and all families need to do is list that program on their child's application. For admissions, each applicant is also assigned a random number. If there are more applicants than available seats and not enough seats for all applicants in a priority group, these random numbers determine who gets offers, as in a lottery: learn more about random numbers on our Random Selection in Admissions page.
  • Some middle and high school programs use a screened or audition admissions method.
    • Screened programs DO use students' academic records to evaluate applicants, while audition programs evaluate and score students' auditions but do not use academic records (with the exception of LaGuardia High School, which uses a separate process). Based on these scores, each applicant is given a ranked number, and offers are made in ranked-number order, within priority groups when applicable.

3-K, Pre-K, and Kindergarten

Watch these video playlists to learn how to apply and how students get offers.

Middle School

Watch this video playlist, as well as the video on how random numbers are used, to better understand how students get offers in middle school admissions.

High School and the Specialized High Schools

Watch these video playlists below to learn more about how students get offers to high schools and the Specialized High Schools.