Why Some Find COMLEX Level 1 Hard to Pass
COMLEX Level 1, administered by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME), is a significant milestone for osteopathic medical students. It is a comprehensive examination that assesses the knowledge and skills acquired during the first two years of medical school. In this blog, we will explore the reasons why COMLEX Level 1 can be hard to pass, provide effective study tips, and more.
Why Level 1 Can Be Difficult
Most students find COMLEX Level 1 particularly challenging. One reason is because it is LONG! With 352 multiple choice questions taken over eight hours, it takes a lot of testing endurance. The exam covers a wide variety of material including anatomy & physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and much more. The questions are not just based on fact recall, but rather applying knowledge to the clinical setting.
The time-intensive nature of the exam along with the deep understanding of the material needed to succeed is certainly anxiety worthy. While COMLEX Level 1 may seem daunting, implementing effective study strategies can significantly enhance your preparation.
Tips to Help You Pass
The earlier you start studying, the easier it will be to balance studying for COMLEX with your already demanding course work. Starting with just 30 minutes a day dedicated to Level 1 can be sufficient. You don’t want to be in a position where your exam date is fast approaching, and you feel like you need to cram. Creating a study schedule can help you stay on task and study in an organized fashion.
1. Use Trusted Resources
Choose a few different resources and stick with them. You’ll want a dedicated review book like First Aid for USMLE Step 1. An absolute essential when studying for Level 1 and beyond is a high-quality question bank like TrueLearn’s COMLEX Level 1 SmartBank. For quick fact recall, an audiovisual program like Picmonic can really be helpful. No matter what resources you choose, be sure they are reputable and offer comprehensive coverage of the material you need.
2. Active Learning
You should be engaging in learning activities that help you retain the information. It’s been proven that reading through the material alone will not cement the information into memory. Active learning includes things like creating flashcards and content maps, summarizing information in your own words, and teaching the material to others. These activities will enhance your comprehension of the information.
3. Practice Questions
Aim for 10-15 practice questions daily. The key here is to make sure you are only testing yourself on subjects you have already learned. If you haven’t started micro, for instance, trying to answer micro questions is just going to frustrate you. The question bank you use should have a feature that allows you to choose the subject material you want to test on rather than just giving you random questions.
4. Take a Mock Assessment
Practice exams (aka mock assessments) help candidates gauge their knowledge base. TrueLearn offers an assessment add-on with Level 1 SmartBank subscriptions. And the NBOME offers a preparatory test called the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Self-Assessment Examination (COMSAE). While not mandatory (and while they do not necessarily predict COMLEX scores), candidates who take a practice exam often demonstrate greater proficiency than those who don’t.
5. Balance Rest and Study
It is vital that you prioritize self-care while preparing for such a major exam. Ensure that you are getting enough rest, nourishing your body properly, moving your body regularly, and getting some relaxation as well! Make time to see friends and family and engage in your favorite hobbies.
The NBOME has moved away from giving a numerical score and has opted for a pass/fail designation. To pass you must achieve at least a 400, but your numerical score will not be reported to you. Along with your pass/fail report, you will receive a “Formative Performance Profile” that details how you performed in different areas in comparison to other first-time Level 1 test takers.
NBOME’s Policy on Retakes
If a student does not pass COMLEX Level 1, NBOME does allow for retakes. It is essential that you give yourself enough time to remediate and reprioritize your study plan. There is a maximum of four attempts allowed in a 12-month period.
Looking For a Question Bank for Level 1?
With over 2,500 practice questions aligned to the NBOME blueprint and access to hundreds of OMM videos, TrueLearn’s COMLEX Level 1 SmartBank can’t be beat! We have a simulated testing interface that replicates the real test. The TrueLearn platform is integrated with smart data, tracking your performance over time. This allows you to review question types you are commonly missing and shows you where you stand in comparison to the nation in real-time. With our first-time pass guarantee, you can rest easy knowing TrueLearn’s got your back!