DO Corner: Using Q-Banks to Prepare for COMLEX Level 1

By Sean Martin

One of the best resources to prepare for the boards is a question bank.  Question banks let you review commonly tested material in a format similar to what you will see on test day.  But, for osteopathic students preparing to take the boards, question banks can be a little tricky.  Many students feel they can get away with using USMLE banks like USMLEWorld to prepare for the COMLEX exam.  However, this kind of prep may end in major disappointment when scores are released.  While USMLE banks are a great resource, osteopathic students should really consider purchasing a COMLEX bank to help prepare for COMLEX-style questions.

While the USMLE and COMLEX exams share the same content, they ask questions in a very different way.  The USMLE exam questions are longer, have more lab results, and tend not to use buzz words or phrases.  On the other hand, COMLEX will give only one or two lab results – or at times only give the buzz word.  If you are studying for COMLEX using only USMLE banks, you may find yourself totally blindsided on test day.  Many of the COMLEX banks are also excellent for the osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) questions on the test.  There are only so many ways to write OMM questions, so having a strong base will be like free points.  I cannot stress enough, and in subsequent posts will continue to remind readers, don’t neglect your OMM!

So what is the best way to use Q-banks to study for COMLEX?  Many students start with USMLE World.  This is a bank that offers an overwhelming wealth of information.  Every question has excellent explanations and can really help you cement the information you have been reading in First Aid.  A month before the COMLEX exam, students then switch to a COMLEX bank.  For Level 1, most osteopathic students find COMBANK very helpful and say that it was most similar to their COMLEX exam.  Recently COMQUEST, which was known for their Level 2 and 3 banks, released their Level 1 bank.  While there are very few reviews for Level 1, many upper-level students speak very highly of the Level 2 and 3 banks.  Whichever one you choose, try to finish the bank before your exam. Many students that score very highly on their exam say that doing questions was by far their most helpful way to study.

The moral here is, don’t be stingy.  Osteopathic students who do not use a COMLEX bank find themselves at a major disadvantage. In the end, spending the few extra bucks will be worth it once you rock the COMLEX and begin the career of your dreams.


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