The Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Achievement Test (COMAT) is something many schools now require students to take, and the mere thought of this lengthy exam is enough to stress out even the most poised individual.
With that being said, you don’t have to fear the COMAT. By preparing well in advance and understanding as much as you possibly can about the exams, you won’t just survive…you’ll thrive!
6 Tips for COMAT Exam Success
While the COMAT shelf exams are extremely important, there’s unfortunately very little information in circulation about how to adequately prepare. This disconnect causes many students to be unprepared and prevents them from achieving the results they desire.
In order to ensure you’re sufficiently prepared, review the following COMAT exam preparation tips:
1. Study Well in Advance
Whether it’s the COMAT or any other test you encounter during osteopathic medical school, the biggest mistake students make is procrastinating. While you may feel confident in your ability to study under pressure, there’s simply no way to pass the COMAT if you wait until the last few days leading up to the exam. It’s imperative that you study well in advance.
The key is to break up your studying into small digestible parts. An hour per day for 60 days is exponentially more valuable than 12 hours per day for the five days leading up to the exam. You’ll retain more of the knowledge and have ample time to review concepts you haven’t yet mastered.
2. Use Question Banks and Prep Courses
There are two primary ways to study for the COMAT and both have value. The first method involves reading. From textbooks and journal articles to rotation-specific materials, regular reading will pay off by giving you big-picture knowledge of overall concepts. Make sure to read up on the patients that you encounter on resources like UpToDate and Medscape the same day that you encounter them.
The second method involves the use of question banks and prep courses. Good question banks help because they mimic the exact question types and conditions that you’ll see on the actual exam. This not only familiarizes you with important content, but also gets you used to the test format. Just make sure you utilize question banks with high pass rates, as they clearly do an effective job of preparing students for the exam. While doing practice questions, mark the questions that you’re guessing as “guessed” to see if you’re guessing correctly or not and make the necessary adjustments based on the results.
3. Understand the COMAT Exam Format
As is the case with any standardized test, it’s important that you go into the exam understanding the format and setup. The last thing you want to do is show up to the exam room and then waste valuable time reading the rules and trying to understand what’s expected of you.
The NBOME COMAT includes eight exams – one for each core discipline. They are as follows: emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, osteopathic principle and practice, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery.
Exams are comprised of 125 questions and must be completed within 2 hours and 30 minutes. This gives you an average of 1 minute and 12 seconds per question. As such, your goal should be to complete one question per minute. When testing, you can use this rule of thumb to gauge your speed.
4. Keep the Right Perspective
COMAT exams can be filled with stress and pressure. They key is to avoid getting overwhelmed and instead focus on taking the test one question at a time. In order to successfully finish the test on time – and obtain a high score – you’ll need to put yourself in the right frame of mind.
Remember that this isn’t the end of your career in medicine and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you don’t know the answer to a question, move on. You can’t afford to dwell on questions for too long. Use the easy ones to build your confidence and take your best educated guesses on the unfamiliar ones. Using the “guessed” functionality on question banks will help you see how often you’re making the best guess.
5. Balance Group and Solo Studying
When it comes to studying for the COMAT, there are a few different schools of thought. You’ll hear people discuss both solo studying and group studying, and the truth is that both come with their own pros and cons. Depending on your personal preferences and learning tendencies, you may prefer one, the other, or a blend of the two.
“Studying in a group provides the opportunity for everyone to compile their notes and ideas and better learn the material through teaching or learning from other group members,” says student Amy Thornton. But there’s also another side to this.
“Sometimes study partners are not as knowledgeable as you are. Sometimes they want to spend hours studying a topic that you already know like the back of your hand. In those cases you often don’t accomplish anything,” says another student. Instead, you end up wasting your time and have to go home and study on your own.
For most people, the best solution is to blend the two approaches. Start by studying on your own so that you’re able to master some of the content and identify problem areas. Then, meet with a group and work together to flesh out everyone’s “weak spots.” This will leave you better prepared and more engaged.
6. Meet with People Who Have COMAT Experience
It’s always a smart idea to leverage the knowledge of people who have more experience than you. This is a concept that will ring true throughout your career in medicine. For the time being, this means reaching out to people who have taken the COMAT in the past. Ask them for pointers and tips, and hopefully they can provide some tangible advice. Just make sure to avoid asking for specific questions and/or conditions that were asked on the test.
Check Out COMQUEST Today
At COMQUEST, we’re committed to helping osteopathic medical students not only pass their COMAT exams – but honor them! We’ve been in business for more than seven years, boast a 100 percent guaranteed pass, and hold a 97 percent recommendation rate.
When you choose to prepare for the COMAT with COMQUEST, you get access to 365 days of customer support, charted progress tracking, mobile and tablet functionality, customized exams and more. More importantly, our COMAT product averages 400 questions per category, which is almost 300 more than our closest competitor.