How to Compare & Evaluate Rankings

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Rankings are everywhere and it's important to learn how to read a ranking when you see one. In this lesson, you'll learn how you can compare rankings so you know which one is the better choice.


A ranking is a way to determine which one of something is greater in importance or greater in order than another. You'll easily find rankings in everyday life, for instance, in movie reviews, in schools, and in car reviews. Students are ranked according to grade. Movies are ranked according to their reviews. Cars are ranked according to their safety score and overall performance. Rankings are everywhere. You probably perform a little ranking in your head also when you organize the objects in your home. Items that you've ranked as more important or that you use all the time are placed in convenient locations while other items that you've ranked as unimportant or items you don't need to use right now are placed in storage.

Rankings are everywhere
compare rankings

Because rankings are everywhere, it's important to know how to compare and evaluate them when you see them. Let's see how to do that now.

Comparing Rankings

First, let's see about comparing your rankings. Look at this table.

Student GPA
Y. Espinoza 3.4
T. Alfaro 2.3
T. Chu 4.0
P. Mendoza 4.0

This table shows the GPA of four students from an imaginary class. Before you can compare your rankings, you need to know how the ranking works. For the GPA ranking, the higher the GPA, the better. The highest GPA is 4.0 and the lowest is 0.0. Now that you know how the ranking works, you can now begin comparing your rankings.

You might ask questions such as these:

  • Out of the four students, which student is doing the worst?

Since you know how the ranging works, you can answer this question. For the GPA ranking, the lower the number, the worse the student is doing so to answer this question, you look for the student with the lowest GPA. Out of the four students, T. Alfaro is doing the worst because this student has the lowest GPA.

  • Which students are doing the best?

To answer this question, you again rely on understanding how the ranking works. For the GPA ranking, the higher the number, the better. So, this means you are looking for the students with the highest numbers. In this case, the students with the highest ranking are T. Chu and P. Mendoza. You have not just one, but two students doing the best. This shows that some ranking systems allow more than one subject to have the same ranking. Other ranking systems only allow one subject to occupy a rank. Both are okay; you just need to know what kind of ranking system you are working with.

Evaluating Rankings

Now, let's talk about evaluating your rankings. This time, let's look at some imaginary movie rankings.

Movie Rank
The BIG Movie 69%
The Small Movie 75%
Black Bear 80%
White Bear 81%
I Love You Savannah 95%
Sweet Home Desert 79%

This table shows the rankings of some movies that one particular producer has made. In this ranking, the higher the percentage, the better the movie was liked by movie viewers.

An evaluation problem might be something like this:

  • How many movies did viewers like better than Black Bear?

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