DO Corner: COMLEX Test Day Tips

By Sean Martin

COMLEX test day is your chance to prove that you have mastered the first two years of medical school. To those of you who have reached this milestone, congratulations! To the rest of you, read on. The goal of this post is to try to give you a couple of tips to make the big day easier.

Don’t Freak Out!

First, don’t get freaked out about what appear to be repeating questions on the exam. You’re not seeing things. COMLEX is notorious for covering the same topics multiple times on the exam, even multiple times in a section. This can be incredibly stressful because it seems odd to put the same answer to the same question multiple times. Trust yourself; if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it is probably a duck. If you are unsure of the answer the first time a topic appears on the exam, use the test itself to help you answer it the second or third time around. Sometimes one extra lab value or line of a stem can jog your memory and make all the difference. Stay relaxed so that after the exam, you can laugh with your friends that the exam tested head and neck sympathic innervations five times. On that note, everyone has spinal innervations memorized, right?

Review All Documents

Second, keep an eye out for the document button. On the COMLEX, exam pictures, films and slides need to be opened manually by clicking a button in the lower right hand corner of your screen. The document button is green and located next to the grey lab value button. Take a second on every question to check out any documents; this extra effort will only help out in the end. COMLEX Level One is written so that the documents are not always needed, but they will aid in helping you make your diagnosis. It never hurts to confirm your answer, so be sure to open every document. For those of you preparing to take Level Two, many questions cannot be answered without the film.

Read the ENTIRE Question!

The last tip may seem simple, but it’s the most important. Read the ENTIRE question! This tip is so crucial, I’ll say it again… Read the ENTIRE question! While COMLEX does not use except questions, the test loves to play with words. Questions will ask for contraindications vs. indications on Level 1. On Level 2, the test will trip you up with most diagnostic vs. initial tests to order. COMLEX is an exam that is just as much about stamina as it is about knowledge. After studying for months on end, make sure that you take the time to answer the question that is being asked. You do not want to lose points because you lost focus.

As you approach test day, trust yourself. You wouldn’t have made it this far if you were not intelligent, so stay focused and stay positive. The exam has 400 questions, and there are going to a few that you don’t know. Brush them off, and move on. And good luck, third year is right around the corner!

Got any tips you’d like to share? Post them below!

For more post on COMLEX and other DO-specific topics, visit our DO Corner.


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