The COMLEX, or, Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination, is a set of three standardized medical exams known as Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. According to the NBOME website, COMLEX Level 1, the first of the COMLEX exams, “assesses foundational biomedical sciences and other areas of medical knowledge relevant to solving clinical problems and promoting and maintaining health in providing osteopathic medical care to patients.” As an exam intended to assess student readiness for lifelong practice-based learning as a doctor of osteopathic medicine, passing Level 1 means being allowed to proceed in a student’s medical studies and anticipated career.
What is COMLEX Level 1?
COMLEX Level 1 is considered to be the most important and most challenging test in an osteopathic medical student’s career. Just like USMLE Step 1 (and in many cases alongside Step 1), Level 1 is commonly accepted as the primary factor in both residency interview selection and matching. Many osteopathic students prepare for both the COMLEX Level 1 and the USMLE Step 1 concurrently and take them with a few days or weeks of each other. Concurrent studying increases the challenge of preparing for this exam. However, since topics present on USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX Level 1 overlap, concurrent studying is often a good option.
What content does COMLEX Level 1 cover?
COMLEX Level 1 covers topics in osteopathic medical knowledge, osteopathic patient care, osteopathic principles and practice, communication, professionalism and ethics. Level 1 also assesses the “foundational biomedical sciences” which are defined as Anatomy, Behavioral Science, Biochemistry, Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology, Osteopathic Principles and Practice, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology, and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
*Level 1 content overlaps significantly with USMLE Step 1 content.
How is COMLEX Level 1 scored?
Level 1 is scored on a scale of 9 to 999 with the minimum passing score being 400 (as of 2020). The national average (as of 2017) for COMLEX Level 1 is 517. A score of 600 is considered to be > 80th percentile, and a score of 710 is considered to be > 99th percentile. Students who pass Level 1 are not allowed to retake the exam. For most students, this means you only get one shot to do the absolute best you can.
How is COMLEX Level 1 administered?
COMLEX Level 1 is a 400 question one-day exam that consists of two computer-based test sessions. Each session is four hours long followed by a 40 minute break. Within each session, a 10 minute break is allowed.
Receiving 1-on-1 help from an expert is always helpful. However, for some students, getting personalized help studying for COMLEX Level 1 is necessary in order to achieve their goals. We strongly encourage students who fit into one or more of the following categories to contact us and speak with our learning advisor to determine if tutoring is your best option for success.
At Risk Students
- If you historically have high test anxiety and/or are a poor standardized test taker, a couple tutoring sessions focused on strategy and wellness can be very beneficial to your success. In addition, if you feel overwhelmed by all the available resources for COMLEX prep or need help making a study schedule, a couple sessions with a tutor can help set you on the right track.
- If you are more than 80 points away from passing COMLEX Level 1 and have 8 or fewer weeks left to study, contact us immediately. By the 8 week mark, students should be at or above passing when entering into their dedicated Level 1 study period. An 80 point gap is difficult to bridge without focused help on weak areas.
- If you struggle to stick to a schedule and/or independent study plan, you should consider a COMLEX tutor. It is quite normal to fall behind a little bit on a study plan. However, being unable to follow through on at least 70% of the intended amount of work for a particular day is problematic. This failure either indicates poor planning (i.e. too much to do), poor focus (i.e. difficulty with maintaining attention), poor study habits, or a combination of these– all of which, a Level 1 tutor can help with.
- If you have previously failed COMLEX Level 1 a tutor can work with you to come up with an action plan for passing and achieving a good score. We strongly urge you to contact us if you previously failed and have 8 or fewer weeks left before your next attempt.
- If you have previously failed USMLE Step 1, you are at serious risk for also failing COMLEX Level 1. Since the content of Level 1 and Step 1 overlap to such a high degree that many students study for both exams simultaneously, performance on USMLE Step 1 is a strong indicator of what performance on Level 1 will be. A tutor can help you effectively prepare in order to be successful on Level 1, and can also help prepare you for a Step 1 retake.
In addition, enjoy our Unused Hour Guarantee! All unused 1-on-1 tutoring hours are fully refundable.