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Best COMLEX Level 1 Study Resources

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Best COMLEX Level 1 Study Resources To Get You Started

COMLEX Level 1 studying can be a daunting task. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot more resources geared primarily towards USMLE Step 1 prep that mention using the resource “also for COMLEX prep” as a side note without much direction. Perhaps this is because USMLE Step 1 has a significantly higher amount of first time test takers each year in comparison to COMLEX Level 1. As per 2018 data, we know that 24,762 medical students took USMLE Step 1 for the first time, whereas only 7,120 medical students took COMLEX Level 1. Still, 7,120 is still a lot of people and we think COMLEX needs more helpful resources, reviews, and walkthroughs! With this being said, welcome to the COMLEX division of our blog!

Lets start with an introduction: In order to obtain a good COMLEX score, it is first necessary to understand what is being tested. 


What is COMLEX?

In 2019, the NBOME announced changes to the exam structure. Historically, COMLEX Level 1 content was divided into Patient Presentations and Physician Tasks, with the majority of questions falling under the Physician Tasks subheading “scientific understanding of health and disease mechanisms.” The content of the COMLEX Level 1 2019 exam was re-organized into Competency Domains and Clinical Presentations. Approximately 60% of questions will fall under the Competency Domains subheading Basic Science Knowledge Base. Amongst the Clinical Presentations, the questions are largely evenly distributed with the most heavily weighted area being Musculoskeletal System with 13% of questions. Therefore, mastering basic science as well as delving into osteopathic review is vital to prepare for the COMLEX level 1 exam. This principle can help guide the correct choice of study resources.

So, what exactly are the correct choices of study resources?


1) Basic Science Review

Yes, we were complaining before about most resources being primarily geared towards USMLE Step 1, however in the cases of First Aid for Step 1 and the Uworld Step 1 Qbank, they are unparalleled for COMLEX Level 1 studying from 2019 onward. While these resources are advertised and known mostly as USMLE Step 1 resources, COMLEX Level 1 covers the same basic science content that appears on USMLE Step 1. Our advise is that the entire Uworld qbank should be completed thoroughly at least one time, though ideally twice. First Aid should be read cover to cover an annotated thoroughly, often with the aid of a video lecture platform (such as Osmosis). 


2) Osteopathic Review

In addition to covering basic science content, students preparing for the COMLEX Level 1 exam should also thoroughly review the osteopathic-specific content that appears on this exam. The best resource to review prior to exam day is the OMT Review by Robert E. Savarese (also known as “the green book”). Students should also complete the COMBANK qbank. Many students find that the COMBANK questions more closely resemble the COMLEX Level 1 questions than Uworld, though some students do find them easier. However, the COMBANK includes osteopathic questions that will appear on COMLEX Level 1 and it is thus important to include COMBANK questions in preparation for the exam.


3) Practice Exams

Undoubtedly, the COMSAE practice exam should be completed prior to taking COMLEX Level 1. However, as there is only 1 official COMLEX Level 1 practice exam available, many students choose to take NBME practice exams to prepare for the majority of the content. The NBME exams, particularly form 18, tend to be good indicators of whether a student is in the passing range for taking the COMLEX Level 1 exam. A good COMLEX score can be estimated based on the NBME practice exam score. Practice exams are indispensable for the appropriate preparation for COMLEX Level 1!


Summary of the Top 5 Best Resources


  2. Uworld

  3. First Aid for Step 1 

  4. COMSAE and NBME practice exams

  5. OMT Review by Savarese


Happy studying! If you have any questions, additional blog post topic requests, or need help studying for COMLEX Level 1, please email us at [email protected] or complete our contact form here.

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About the Author

Karolina Woroniecka, MD/PhD

As a former Howard Hughes Medical Institute Student Fellow, Karolina Woroniecka graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University with a B.S. in Biology and Hispanic…

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