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Three Reasons Why Osteopathic Students Should Take the USMLE

We asked some Cram Fighter users from osteopathic schools to share with us why they found important to take the USMLE.

There is a staggering number of osteopathic students taking the USMLE. We asked three of them why?

Kill two birds with one stone

According to Melvin Thomas, a medical student at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, taking Step 1 and the COMLEX keeps your options open. Melvin says given the similarity of the material one can focus on studying for the USMLE and then covering the additional osteopathic component for the COMLEX.

Kristen Latta, from Des Moines University, says that in preparing for the USMLE one is already preparing for the COMLEX. Kristen claims that she was overwhelmed about splitting her time between the two exams, naturally. However, given the grueling nature of the USMLE, she thought it’d be a good plan to prepare for the USMLE first, get it out of the way, and then know specifically what to add to be prepared for the COMLEX.

Osama Hussaini, of the New York Institute of Technology, took the challenge as a marathon. He found it essential to take both exams, and claims that the key to success is to stay motivated, and keep up the stamina.

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.

Osama Hussaini, New York Institute of Technology

Why they did it – keeps doors open

Melvin was interested in emergency medicine. “Most of the allopathic programs like to see a USMLE score, along with your grades, etc. That was the main factor in deciding to take both [the USMLE and COMLEX]. Typically, the more competitive specialties will require, or want to see the USMLE. But really it’s best to talk to people who have applied and have that knowledge.”

Osama feels strongly about osteopathic students taking both exams. “I would definitely recommend that other osteopathic students prepare for and take both exams. I feel that preparing for one exam is pretty much preparing for the other, and 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.”

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

How they did it

Kristen took the USMLE on a Friday and the COMLEX on the following Thursday. To her it was important to set both dates close to each other and have a plan of attack. Kristen says that Cram Fighter was really helpful in organizing what to cover for each exam. “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. The approach I went with, and a lot of my classmates went with, is to honestly put everything into learning all the things covered in the USMLE and then once that is over, cram for the COMLEX.”

Osama also studied for both exams simultaneously. “I chose to take USMLE first and COMLEX approximately two weeks later. The most significant difference in the two exams is not the inclusion of OMT on the COMLEX, in my opinion, but the different question styles. As the exam dates came closer, I started doing blocks in COMBANK as well as NBOME practice exams more heavily to become familiar with the COMLEX format. Integrating a large volume of information and being able to apply that knowledge is crucial for both exams, and practice questions is by far the best way to do so.”

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