DO Corner

Do Corner: Tips for Tackling the COMAT shelf exams

By Sean Martin

Congratulations to most of you on finishing the COMLEX Level One exam. But, just when you thought you could take a break from standardized testing, the COMAT exams are right around the corner. The COMAT exams are the osteopathic version of the allopathic shelf exams. While every school uses COMAT scores differently, the goal of this post is to give you some tips for studying and rotations in general.

The COMAT exam is a one-hundred-question test designed to test a specific specialty. It is a computer-based test that is formatted exactly like the COMLEX exam, with the exception that there is no break after the first fifty questions. Images will still appear in an attachment box and the lab values are in the same document as COMLEX (with the exception of the peds exam, which for some unknown reason did not have labs available). As of this year, there were no multimedia questions.

Tip #1 – Read, Read, Read…!
This tip seems simple, but it can also be the hardest thing to incorporate into your schedule: read. While third year does not have the urgency to study like the first two years had, try to read as much as you can. Pick one topic a day, something that you saw, and read about it. Whether it is a text book, review book, journal article, or even Up-to-Date, try to keep your mind and knowledge fresh and accustomed to studying. This will make your Level Two preparations that much easier when the time comes.

Tip #2 – Review Books
When it comes time to study for a COMAT exam, try using a review book for Level Two. By starting a review book early, you can begin to study for Level Two, which will reduce stress later in the year. With this method, by the time you finish your COMAT exams, you will have read through an entire review book at least once. Review books are a great way to learn important topics for a given specialty, which you can later expand upon with outside reading.

Tip #3 – Question Banks
Question banks can be a nice way to prepare for the COMAT exam. Many students I know purchased a one-year subscription to either USMLEWorld or COMBANK just to use when studying for COMAT exams. Not only does doing questions early help you do well on the COMAT, but it can also help you learn key points that will help you look like an all-star on rounds. Certain COMAT exams correlate better with question banks than others. Internal medicine matches very well to the questions on COMBANK, whereas the surgery exam does not.

Tip #4 – Perspective
COMAT exams can be very frustrating, but try not to stress out too much over them. They are best used as a tool to gauge where you stand when preparing for Level 2. Many students complain that these exams are very random and that they love to test Zebras. The best way to look at them is like a mini COMLEX exam. OMM is incorporated into each exam so try to give it a read through at least once before test day. Good luck and enjoy the world of clinical medicine.

Got any COMAT study tips? Share them below!

Categories: DO Corner

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