We asked osteopathic students who took the COMLEX Level 1 if there was anything they would have changed about their exam preparation. Below we pass along two tips based upon the advice they gave us.

1. Spend more time studying OMM specific questions!

We asked Charles, a student at TCOM who scored a 616 on Level 1 and a 255 on Step 1 if he had any tips for students studying for the COMLEX. “In retrospect, I would have definitely spent more time studying OMM, particularly counterstain,” said Charles. “I would have done gone over TrueLearn questions, and taken another COMLEX practice test in order to get used to the wording the COMLEX test-makers use. COMLEX questions are not written by the same people who write the USMLE. They are phrased differently, and I found they were more vague. I wasn’t as prepared to handle the OMM aspect of the test.”

Osama Hussaini, a student at the New York Institute of Technology, also studied for both exams simultaneously. “I chose to take USMLE first and COMLEX approximately two weeks later. In my opinion, the most significant difference between the two exams is not the inclusion of OMT on the COMLEX, but the different question styles. As the exam dates came closer, I started doing blocks in COMBANK as well as NBOME practice exams more heavily to become familiar with the COMLEX format. Integrating a large volume of information and being able to apply that knowledge is crucial for both exams, and practice questions are by far the best way to prepare to do so.”

2. Plan to Take the USMLE Step 1!

Don Tait, a student at MSUCOM who scored above a 600 on Level 1, swears that taking the USMLE Step 1 is an essential step in preparing for the COMLEX Level 1. “Looking back, I wish I signed up to take the USMLE as well,” said Don. Taking both exams keeps you from being limited in what you are qualified for regarding residency, so I recommend taking both exams.”

Osama agrees with Don as well. “If you end up applying to an allopathic residency program, it can’t hurt to have a standardized exam score that program directors can use to compare you directly to MD students. This way, they don’t have to think about how a COMLEX score relates to a given USMLE score. Score conversion calculators can be inaccurate in my experience,” he said.