UPDATED 2021

COMLEX Guide

COMLEX Summary
What: Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensure Examination, or COMLEX, determines if a candidate has the skills necessary to practice osteopathic medicine.
Who: Candidates for the exam are medical students who want to practice osteopathic medicine.
Where: The test is given at locations throughout the country. For information visit nbome.org.
When: The time is dependent upon the test location.
How: Candidates answer questions on the test to determine if they can successfully practice osteopathic medicine.
Type: Computer and hands-on problem solving techniques.
Why: COMLEX determines if a candidate has the skills to practice osteopathic medicine. A person cannot practice in this field without the medical licensure, only given after passing this test.
Time: The exam takes three days to complete.
Language: English.
Preparation: Using test guides and tutorials available from the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, or on nbome.org.
Cost: Level 1 and 2 both cost $485, and Level 3 costs $685- a total of $1,655 to take the entire test.

By Missy McLaughlin, Tests.com Contributing Writer

The Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensure Examination, or COMLEX, is the test used by educators and physicians to determine if candidates have the skills and knowledge necessary to practice medicine in the osteopathic field. The test uses medical problem solving with clinical presentation as well as the physician task, which takes into account steps osteopathic doctors take in real-life situations on the job. The test is administered by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners.

COMLEX has three levels, which each take a day to complete. All of the levels have the same content structure but will determine the candidate’s ability to emphasize his or her knowledge on the topic. The content areas of the exam include asymptomatic and general symptoms, and symptoms and disorders of each: digestion and metabolism, sensory alternations, motor alternations, human sexuality and urination, respiration and circulation, thermoregulation, tissues and trauma and human development. Other areas covered in each portion of the exam include health promotion and disease prevention, history and physical, diagnostic technologies, management, scientific understanding of mechanisms and health care delivery.

Level 1 of the COMLEX exam covers clinical concepts and principles using problem-solving methods, and areas of focus include anatomy, behavioral science, biochemistry, microbiology, osteopathic practices and other areas relevant to medical problem-solving for the test. This part of the exam is done in an eight-hour session with one break at the midpoint. The cost to take Level 1 is $485.

The second level determines how candidates can solve problems in terms of making a medical diagnosis using the information from patient history and a physical examination on the patient. Areas incorporated into this part of the test are emergency and family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, osteopathic principles, psychiatry, pediatrics, surgery among other specialties. Level 2 is done in an eight-hour session with a break after four hours. Level 2 costs $485 to take.

COMLEX’s Level 3 focuses on the candidate’s ability to integrate principles into problem solving, determining if that test-taker can succeed as an independent osteopathic doctor. Clinical disciplines in this section include emergency and family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, pediatrics, psychology and osteopathic principles. Level 3 also uses problem-solving as the test-taking technique, using questions in clinical presentations. It also is done in a split eight-hour session. This part of the exam costs $685.

To determine test scoring, the raw score (number of correct answers) is made into a three-digit number, and also a two-digit score to determine if it is a pass or fail result. The lowest passing scores are 400 (three-digit) and 75 (two-digit). Scores are mailed out within four to six weeks of the exam. Scores can be checked for a $50 fee, and a duplicate score report can be sent within 30 days of the original release.

Are you preparing for the COMLEX? Please visit our COMLEX Directory.