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Should Osteopathic Students Take the USMLE Step 1?

Some Cram Fighter users tell us why they feel strongly about osteopathic students taking both the USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX Level 1.

Kristen Latta, a medical student at Des Moines University, says that while preparing for the USMLE, one is already preparing for the COMLEX. Melvin Thomas, from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, agrees and says “the material covered is pretty much the same, with the exception of the additional osteopathic component for the COMLEX.” To Osama Hussaini, of the New York Institute of Technology, “the most significant difference in the two exams is not the inclusion of OMT on the COMLEX, but the different question styles.”

Kristen LattaLike many students who have to take both I was super nervous about how I was going to split my time… Cram Fighter let me set two different test dates, and have my list of what I had to do specifically for COMLEX once the USMLE was over. That was really helpful.

Kristen Latta, Des Moines University

More flexibility when applying for residency programs

Osama says he “would definitely recommend that other osteopathic students prepare for and take both exams. If you end up applying to an allopathic residency program, it can’t hurt to have a standardized exam score that program directors can use to directly compare you to MD students instead of having to think about how a COMLEX score relates to a given USMLE score. Conversion calculators that are out there are highly inaccurate in my experience.”

It is important to know what residency programs require which exams. According to Melvin, “some programs are amenable with just seeing one exam or the other. Others like to see just the COMLEX or just the USMLE. Typically, more competitive specialties tend to require the USMLE. I was interested in emergency medicine, which was the basis of my decision for taking both.”

A challenge, many say, is to keep the stamina up and power through COMLEX after taking the USMLE. “The biggest challenge for me was coming out of one exam knowing you have to study for another huge exam. It really is a marathon, and it sucks, but you need to keep the motivation up, which can get really tough,” says Osama.

The most significant difference in the two exams is not the inclusion of OMT on the COMLEX, but the different question styles.

Osama Hussaini, New York Institute of Technology

A study plan to keep you motivated through both exams

Many students struggle with managing their time between the two exams. Kristen says that “like many students who have to take both I was super nervous about how I was going to split my time, and one of the things I actually really liked about Cram Fighter is that it let me set two different test dates, and kinda have my list of stuff that I had to do specifically for COMLEX once the USMLE was over. That was really helpful.”

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