What are the COMLEX Exams?

Doctor and nurse discussing patients tests at tablet computer in a hospital

The COMLEX is a series of exams that students in osteopathic schools must take in order to receive their license to practice and their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. These exams are not only necessary in licensing but also play an important in assessing a student’s competitiveness in applications to residency programs. Similar to the USMLE, these exam scores are used by residency program directors to help select applicants for competitive residency interviews.

While the COMLEX is similar to the USMLE, they have several differences. The MedSchoolCoach USMLE, COMLEX, and Medical School Tutoring Division includes COMLEX-specific tutors who specialize in helping students succeed on the COMLEX. They are intimately familiar with high-quality preparatory resources and have extensive experience tutoring for the COMLEX.

MedSchoolCoach tutors are hired only after a rigorous screening process that involves not just high exam scores but teaching aptitude and commitment to education. Rather than being taught by tutors who have only taken the USMLE exams, all of our COMLEX tutors have taken and mastered the COMLEX. Many of these tutors have scored exceedingly high on both the USMLE and COMLEX and can tutor for both exams. We are therefore able to offer tutoring and advising that is tailored specifically to all the COMLEX exams and osteopathic residencies.

COMLEX Level 1 is typically taken by students who just finished their second year of osteopathic medical school. It is a problem- and symptom-based test focused on basic medical science material in the following subjects: anatomy, behavioral science, microbiology, biochemistry, osteopathic principles (OMM), physiology, pathology, and pharmacology.

COMLEX Level 2 Cognitive Evaluation (CE) is typically taken by students who have completed a year of core clinical rotations. This exam focuses more on clinical knowledge, diagnosis, and optimal management, including the “next best step”. This exam encourages the student to begin to think more like a clinician and is essential to becoming a good resident and physician.

COMLEX Level 2 Performance Evaluation (PE) is also typically taken by students who have completed a year of core clinical rotations. This exam is a hands-on exam that test’s a student’s ability to perform a history and physical exam, quickly document important history and physical exam findings, and to integrate all of the above into a concise diagnostic and management plan. This exam is a series of simulation clinic visits with standardized patients and places a high value on bedside manner, appropriate social interactions, and interpersonal skills.

COMLEX Level 3 is taken by residents and is the last exam of the COMLEX series. This exam assesses a resident’s ability to understand fundamental that are required by a generalist clinician. The exam ensures that fully licensed Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine can deliver safe and effective osteopathic medical care and promote health in unsupervised clinical settings.

While the exam is similar to the USMLE, it has many differences. MedSchoolCoach tutors include COMLEX specific tutors who specialize in helping our students through this exam.