The Difference Between COMLEX and USMLE: A Deep Dive into Level 1 vs Step 1
Your USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX Level 1 scores are critical components in your academic journey. With the many study methods and resources out there, it is important to develop a study plan that works best for you. But before you chart your course to high USMLE and COMLEX exam scores, you need to have a thorough understanding of both exams.
See below for a breakdown of the key differences between the USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX Level 1 exams. We hope it’s helpful!
COMLEX Level 1 vs USMLE Step 1
|Exam Feature||COMLEX Level 1||USMLE Step 1|
|Minimum Passing Score||400||194|
|Number of Test Items||400 MCQs||280 MCQs|
|Length of Exam||Two four-hour sections consisting of four 50-question blocks each; 8 hours of total exam time||Seven 60-minute blocks; 8 hours of total exam time|
|Number and Length of Breaks||Two 10-minute breaks and one 40-minute lunch break||45-minute break, self-scheduled and must be taken between blocks. If you complete the tutorial or other testing blocks early, the remaining time will be added to your total break time.|
|Topic Emphasis||Greater emphasis on microbiology, pharmacology, MSK, and neurology compared to USMLE Step 1.||Greater emphasis on biochem compared to COMLEX Level 1. Step 1 also places a big emphasis on Pathology (~50% of exam).|
|Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM)||Yes||No|
|Management Emphasis||Approximately 5% of exam may be questions concerning management.||Currently 7-12% of questions categorized as Patient Care: Management; however, the content distribution is set to change in October 2020|
|Videos||Longer in length, some exceeding 60 seconds, almost entirely MSK and OMM||Some items have associated images, audio clips, or video clips. Some of these media may be interactive.|
|Stems||COMLEX stems may have information in them that is extraneous (not necessary to answer the question)||Step 1 stems avoid “window dressing” (extraneous material not needed to answer the item) and “red herrings” (information designed to mislead the test-taker)|
|Sentence Construction||COMLEX constructions are more varied.||USMLE has a conserved syntax and grammatical consistency that is not seen in COMLEX|
|Exam Interface||Preview the interface and prepare for exam day with this Tutorial.||Preview the interface and prepare for exam day with this Tutorial.|
|Content Outline||Follows the NBOME Blueprint||Follows the USMLE Content Outline|
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