How to Study for COMLEX Level 1: 4 Steps You Need to Take Now
Just like that 2023 is here and osteopathic students are having to prepare for COMLEX Level 1. While you’ve taken many tests to get to this point, COMLEX Level 1 is the first step (of several) to becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine and there is a lot riding on this exam.
With the stakes high, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and be uncertain of how to study for COMLEX Level 1. Fortunately, we’ve comprised this list of four things you should be doing to study for your exam.
1. Learn the Exam Format and Testing Process
Before you start studying you have to get registered and learn about the exam format. Once deemed eligible by your COM to take COMLEX Level 1, you must set up your account with the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME). Once your account is created, you’ll be able to register, pay for and schedule all your future COMLEX-USA exams.
The first step towards successful exam preparation is to understand the exam format. COMLEX Level 1 consists of 352 multiple-choice questions. You will have eight hours to complete the exam, which is divided into two four-hour sessions. Three authorized breaks are permitted during the exam, one 40 minute break and two 10 minute breaks.
The NBOME provides great resources to help you become familiar with the exam format and the testing process such as the COMLEX USA Master Blueprint and the 2022-2023 COMLEX-USA Bulletin of Information.
When it comes to test day, we recommend watching this video from Pearson VUE regarding what to expect:
*Candidates taking the exam after May 4, 2023 will be testing with Pearson VUE.
2. Create a study schedule
Creating a study schedule will ensure you are using your time efficiently. Your schedule should cover all topics on the exam. Allocate more time for subjects that you may be struggling with. Use the exam blueprint to help you determine what you should be studying and how much time you should dedicate to each area. For example, 60% of the questions in the first portion of the exam consist of “application of knowledge for osteopathic medical practice,” so allocating a large amount of time to studying this competency will certainly pay off.
Make sure to schedule some time for relaxing. It’s easy to get burnt out studying for such an important exam. Make time for socializing and doing things you enjoy!
3. Utilize a variety of materials and approaches
It is important to use a variety of materials and study approaches to have a well rounded understanding of the topics on the exam. Pick a review book or two, study clinical cases, and revisit notes and study materials from your school. Make concept maps and outlines to help you see the big picture of higher level concepts. Use online resources like Picmonic to give you visual mnemonics.
4. Utilize practice questions
Learning is an active process involving the retrieval and reconstruction of knowledge. Practice retrieval, or the process of using cues to actively recall and reconstruct knowledge, has been proven in multiple studies to be the single most effective method of retaining knowledge.
Because testing has been shown to produce better retention than re-reading or re-studying material, it makes sense that you should be studying by taking COMLEX Level 1 practice questions in an environment simulating your upcoming exam experience.
Make sure your study schedule includes time for practice questions. As you study a certain subject, answer practice questions that correlate with that subject. Before you do a new set of practice questions, review questions you previously got wrong.
There is more value in practice questions than just the question itself! Reading the answer rationales is very important. Make sure to read the rationale whether you got the question right or wrong. This will help cement the knowledge to memory.
As you get closer to your exam date start increasing the amount of practice questions you do to increase your testing stamina. Be sure to be using timed modes to simulate the test taking experience. At this point you should be doing a mixture of random questions instead of a specific subject.
Study Smarter with TrueLearn
TrueLearn’s COMLEX Level 1 SmartBank is comprised of over 2,500 practice questions, including over 600 OMM questions, written to mirror questions you’ll see on the exam. The platform’s testing environment was created to simulate the exam experience with timed testing, video questions, integrated OMM questions, stems with lab values, and topics from all sections of the NBOME blueprint.
The platform is also integrated with smart data, tracking your performance over time. This allows you to review question types you are commonly missing, shows you where you stand in comparison to the nation in real-time, and it even depicts your projected score on your upcoming exam based on the practice questions you take.