7 Reasons to Hire a COMLEX Tutor
Are you a D.O. student preparing for your COMLEX exams and feel lost about where to start? Whether you need guidance on passing COMLEX Level 1/Level 2-CE or have an interest in pursuing a competitive specialty, it can be daunting to tackle these high-stakes exams. Or perhaps you are already in residency and you just realized your Level 3 exam is right around the corner. Deciding whether or not you should hire a tutor is highly dependent on your situation and your individual goals. The decision to make such an investment is not often a straightforward one. We hope that this blog post can provide you some helpful insight and guidance.
So what are the reasons you should hire a COMLEX tutor?
1. You Had Low MCAT Scores and Low Medical School Exam Scores
Getting into medical school is a great feat! It is the first step towards becoming the physician that you have always dreamed of! Everyone’s journey to medical school is different, and partly what makes you so unique. If you feel that you have always struggled with low test scores (MCAT, medical school exams, clinical shelf exams, etc.), know that you are not alone! However, these scoring patterns are good predictors of how well you will do on your COMLEX exams.
A study done at RVUCOM recently showed that MCAT scores and final grades in the first three semesters of medical school were significant in predicting a score lower than 500 on COMLEX Level 1. If this applies to you, know that this pattern can be broken. Recognize that exam-taking is a skill, and this skill can be learned. COMLEX exams are no exceptions to this. It is important to understand how to approach the questions, identify high-yield topics, and study effectively. An expert tutor’s role is to help you add these skills to your toolbox!
2. You Failed the COMSAE or COMLEX Exams
If you are preparing to sit for the Level 1 or Level 2-CE exams, your school probably requires you to take and pass one or two COMSAE (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Self-Assessment Examination). These exams serve to determine your readiness for the real thing. Your school’s cut-off may be anywhere between 400-500. Failing your COMSAE exam can put you at risk of delaying your exam. If you have taken COMSAE exams, you probably have noticed that the range of question difficulty varies significantly between different forms. In addition, the scoring curve is unpredictable, with many students often scoring ± 50-100 points between different exams.
Nonetheless, there is a correlation between your COMSAE score and final COMLEX score. NBOME found that students with higher COMSAE Phase 1 scores tend to have higher COMLEX Level 1 scores as well. If you find that you are struggling with passing the COMSAE exams, chances are you may benefit from guidance. More targeted content review and an expert tutor can help you discover what is holding you back from reaching your full potential.
Now let’s say you passed your COMSAE exams, but something went wrong on your real test date and you failed your COMLEX exam. Maybe you woke up on the wrong side of bed. Or maybe the tested concepts that showed up on your test that day were some of your weaker points. Maybe you were struggling with time management during the exam. It happens!
The most important thing is to keep moving forward and look for ways to improve on your next exam. Although you are given 4 attempts for each of the COMLEX exams, your goal should be to pass with the least number of attempts possible. We recognize that being in this situation is difficult, but this is where a tutor can help you tremendously. A great tutor can help you recognize your weaknesses, be your cheerleader, and devise a game plan to pass the exam on your second attempt!
3. You Need a COMLEX Tutor For the OMM Section
So you’re a D.O. student, and that means that you must learn OMM as part of your curriculum. You may have learned OMM really well at some point during medical school, but have quickly forgotten it. Perhaps OMM knowledge has never been your strong suit. Cranial and sacral somatic dysfunction are notoriously known to be more abstract and trip many medical students up on these exams. When learning cranial somatic dysfunction during OMM lab sessions, you may have encountered the use of the “ghost head” to visualize the subtle movement of the cranial bones. It heavily relies on your imagination and spatial recognition to fully grasp these concepts. If this sounds like something you need help on, you should highly consider a COMLEX tutor who can bring these concepts to life and teach you to think in this manner.
The goal is that when you encounter these OMM questions on your exam, you should be able to quickly and accurately reproduce these movements in your head. In addition, if you have completed practice OMM questions (through either COMBANK by Truelearn or COMQUEST), you know that the question stems are typically long and jumbled with a lot of information left for you to tease out. The reality is that you cannot escape these questions, and doing well on these questions can significantly boost your COMLEX score.
4. You Have Limited Time to Prepare for the COMLEX
We recommend studying for the COMLEX as early as possible! Having at least a 6-month study plan is undoubtedly ideal. Frantically trying to memorize all the information in the short dedicated study period your school provides is stressful and won’t yield your best. However, you may find yourself in a situation where you are less than 2 months away from your exam. You may be struggling to get through all your practice questions. Maybe your clinical rotations are very demanding and you have been neglecting the fact that your exam is coming up. Limited time to prepare for the COMLEX is a common reason why students approach us for professional advice. It is crucial to start buckling down and forming an individualized study plan to maximize your time.
Many D.O. students also elect to take the USMLE Step series (Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 3) as well as the COMLEX series. While there is a large overlap of medical knowledge tested between the two series, these exams are also very different. The unique question styles and added OMM content give the COMLEX a different flavor. So what can a COMLEX tutor help you with in this scenario? The answer is: a lot! With specialized resources, targeted content review, and expert guidance, experienced tutors can help you learn efficiently.
5. You Struggle with Organization – A COMLEX Tutor Can Help You Get Organized
Are you the type of person who perpetually has a messy desk? Some may call it “organized chaos”. However, a paper published in Current Psychology shows a correlation between clutter and procrastination. It makes sense right? If you have a messy space, not only does it make it difficult to find things but also creates a visual distraction that makes us less productive. Similarly, this concept can apply to organizing your life as a busy medical student or resident.
You may find yourself overwhelmed with your studies along with all the extracurricular activities you committed to. With all the board prep resources available like First Aid, Pathoma, Sketchy, UWORLD, COMBANK, Amboss, Anki decks, OnlineMedEd (and many more), how can you focus on absorbing all the information? This is where hiring a tutor is very valuable. Experienced tutors understand how to utilize all these resources efficiently, create a personalized study schedule for you, and most importantly keep you accountable.
6. A COMLEX Tutor Can Help You Improve Poor Test-Taking Skills and Work Through Test Anxiety
You are not alone if you have test-taking anxiety! Board exams are high-stakes and can be nerve-wracking! Common clients we see at EMP are those who have strong foundational knowledge. They can articulate their understanding of the material clearly. However, they still struggle to answer test questions correctly under pressure. Do you find yourself flustered when presented with a long vignette? DO you get overwhelmed to see many lab values attached to the question? You may find yourself constantly rereading the question yet still have no idea what the exam writers are asking of you. Before you know it, you have spent over 5 minutes on one particular question and the clock is still ticking.
I will emphasize again that test-taking is a skill. There is a method to approach these board questions. By following a strategic approach, you can break down the question step-by-step and even shave off the time you spend on it! An experienced tutor can help you identify your weaknesses and further build upon your strengths.
When looking for a tutor, you should find someone who understands your learning style, guides you to rise above your anxiety, and can serve as a trustworthy companion during this stressful period.
7. You Want Your Ideal Residency
As you progress through your medical training, you may have started to form some ideas of what your ideal residency looks like. For some people, they wish to match a residency program that is in close proximity to their family and loved ones. For others, there are specific programs that appeal to their clinical interests (e.g. research, academics, teaching). Perhaps you have always dreamed of matching into a certain competitive specialty and want to ensure that your scores are competitive. Even if you are just starting to think about your future residency, it never hurts to keep the door open to different options. A great COMLEX score gives you the opportunity to land your dream job.
Hopefully, this blog post provided you with some useful insight on reasons to hire a COMLEX tutor! By reading this, you are already taking great leaps toward achieving your goal. Best of luck with studying! If you are looking for professional 1-on-1 tutoring guidance, feel free to contact us to learn more about how we can help you.