Whats in this article:
Click the section to jump to it. Be sure to check out the popular OMM resource at the end of the article.
- Some background
- Tip 1: Consistency
- Tip 2: Best Book
- Tip 3: Best Question Bank
- Tip 4: Best DO specific Question Bank
- Tip 5: Timing
- Tip 6: Schedule
- Tip 7: How many questions to do?
- Tip 8: Test day tips
Another formal test, it seems like these things never stop.
I had a lot of anxiety about the Family Medicine COMAT, this is because it was my first one of third year. So not only was I getting the broadest one to start with, but I had also heard that a bunch of people in my class were failing it!
Needless to say I was pretty nervous about it.
This anxiety is mostly coming from my poor history with formal tests though.
You see, my MCAT score was poor and I was never very good at taking formal tests like these in my pre-med years.
In fact, all my grades and what not in the pre-med years statistically said I shouldn’t be passing med school, nonetheless doing good in medical school.
Third year began to be a little different for me though, I had a little confidence now since I had landed a 704 on COMLEX Level-1 and a 256 on USMLE Step-1.
I had a 4.0 for my Medical School GPA, so I was feeling pretty good about my testing at that point, but there was still some anxiety about that first COMAT.
The unexpected, the unknown, how was the test, and also I had the broadest COMAT for my first one!
Well I ended up getting a 118, not super great but all in all it was plenty to get me what I needed.
So, how did I do it?
Being a brand new third year I didn’t know what was going on, like I am sure many of you feel. This is an all too common feeling in medical school for sure….
So, this is why I created this article of my 8 tips to help you not only pass, but score high on your Family Medicine COMAT.
Tip 1: Consistency
Everyone always wants the magic pill or super secret for everything, truth is we all know the secret to do well on most things, but we don’t want to believe it because it is hard.
To do well on the Family Medicine COMAT, or really any test in general we need consistency. We need to show up every day and put forth the work.
This is true for so many things in life and it transfers well to the topic of COMAT exams.
So, what does this mean. It means that every single day you need to find a time to study. It may not be the same time every day, and that is okay… because lets be honest third year is rough as far as having control over your schedule goes.
Basically, you need to show up every single day and do your questions, do your readings, and really dive into the specialty for which you are rotating through.
Tip 2: Best book
The title is a little misleading for this section, I really have two books I want to talk to you about.
The first book is more of an Internal Medicine book, but it has a great section for the Family Medicine COMAT. It is Step up to Medicine.
This book is incredible in my opinion, many people say that it is too detailed. I absolutely disagree with them, the book has just enough details to help you pass and look super smart too.
The cool thing about this book is that it is laid out in a way that is super intuitive to learning. It goes through how the disease process presents, how you diagnose it, and how you treat it. You can check out some more about it on my resource page, or you can click this link to check out the reviews on Amazon.
The second book is the Family Medicine Case Series. This book is pretty helpful because it walks you through the typical presentations for most cases.
Beyond this though, it helps you to learn how to think as a doctor. Each chapter will have discussions about the pathology they are presenting, but then it will also discuss how to think through it and if you approach the chapters correctly it will force you to stop and think about differential diagnoses.
Being forced to think about the differentials is huge, because that is probably the hardest thing to do in medicine. It is easy to work up one or two things, but to come up with a huge list of possibilities is difficult sometimes.
Tip 3: Best Question bank
I know what you are thinking, you are expecting me to say UWorld. Well to tell you the truth, I used UWorld and I used AMBOSS.
I feel like UWorld is the one that everyone uses and everybody knows everything about it. It is a solid Question Bank for sure. I used it and it led me down the right path.
With all that being said, I have grown to like AMBOSS a whole lot more than I like UWorld.
First reason, AMBOSS is actually affordable. UWorld can get expensive.
The second reason, AMBOSS incorporates the learning card library into their questions. So you can do a question and as opposed to clicking a link to a summary of a pub med article you can go to a learning card that has everything from how to diagnose to how to treat and everything in-between.
AMBOSS does a great job of both teaching you and helping you connect various things on the same topic through the learning card library.
Once again though, I used and loved UWorld. It is old faithful and has and always will get you through.
Please don’t overlook the value of AMBOSS though, and if AMBOSS keeps growing and adapting then over the next few years I believe that I will be solely recommending AMBOSS.
So, my recommendation, try AMBOSS for free with the code found in this article. And then you can compare it to UWorld for yourself and decide.
Tip 4: Best DO Question Bank
Many of you will wonder if it is necessary to get an osteopathic specific Question Bank. If you asked me right before third year I would have told you that it isn’t necessary.
Well it is good you are reading this article as I am in the middle of my fourth year of medical school, because my opinion has completely changed.
I prefer to use COMQUEST, some prefer to use COMBANK. You can check out my full write up on COMQUEST here.
I think it is important for the COMAT’s and their question style to get a Question Bank that can mimic the style of the questions… and COMQUEST does that very well in my opinion.
Tip 5: Timing
Timing of the exam is super important because not only is it nice to know the length of the COMAT exam and how you should pace yourself, but it is extremely important prep for the COMLEX Level-2, because the timing is roughly the same.
You have about 2 and a half hours to get done with 125 questions. So, pay attention to the time at the top of the screen as you go through the exam. You need to be on questions 70-80ish by the time you are an hour and fifteen minutes in.
Tip 6: Schedule
This is more so the schedule of how to study the month leading up to the Family Medicine COMAT.
I really liked to keep it consistent as mentioned above but looking at a more 1,000 foot approach type schedule here this is what I did over the course of the month.
I started out with UWorld questions from day 1, and I tried to do at least 20 of them a day.
I started doing AMBOSS questions, about 15 of them a day around the end of week 2.
So, this means that during week 3 I am crushing AMBOSS as well as UWorld questions.
Then at the end of week 3 I would drop the UWorld questions and start burning through the COMQUEST COMAT Question Bank for Family Medicine.
This was how I did questions, and it seemed to work well for me. I went through a lot of questions each month, and I got plenty of questions from various resources.
As far as reading goes. I did some Online Med Ed every day. I would watch a couple videos and read over the notes a few times each day.
Then, I made sure to have a small book with me throughout the day so that I could read in between patients and while my preceptor was doing charts.
This way, I wasn’t wasting any time and when I got home at night, if I didn’t want to study I didn’t have to because I had already done it in the morning and then throughout the day I did plenty of reading.
My favorite books to take to the clinic or hospital with me were pocket medicine, online med ed quick tables, or just the AMBOSS app with the library, or even just read on UpToDate.
Tip 7: How many questions to do?
I kind of mentioned the amount of questions that I did each day in Tip 6, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into this topic because it comes up time and time again.
So, for a typical 4 week rotation this is how many questions I did.
UWorld 20 questions a day for the first three weeks.
AMBOSS 15 questions a day for the last two weeks.
COMQUEST 50 questions a day for the last week or until the questions were gone.
You are probably thinking that 50 questions a day is insane.
Well, I did those questions differently than the UWorld and AMBOSS ones.
For UWorld and AMBOSS I focused on learning from the questions, so I spent a ton of time going over explanations and learning why the answers were what they were.
On the COMQUEST questions I did them timed. So I gave myself an hour for the 50 questions. This was great practice to start nailing down my time for the Family Medicine COMAT, or really any COMAT exam.
Plus, the COMQUEST explanations, while good can sometimes be a little confusing. So I didn’t put as much stock in learning from the explanations and COMQUEST was more of mimicking the exam day for me.
I feel like this was so important, because I never felt like I was rushed or going to run out of time on the COMAT exams, and I think it was because of how I went through COMQUEST the week leading up to the COMAT exam.
Tip 8: Test day tips
So, to do well on the COMAT exams also requires some test day knowledge.
- Make sure you have a scratch paper.
- Make sure the testing browser works.. you can download it here.
- Make sure your computer is up to date so it doesn’t try to update during the exam.
- Make sure you know where the bathroom is at, because you don’t get breaks so you may have to be quick if it is a must.
- Don’t drink too much caffeine before the exam, as you don’t want to pee your pants.
- Please don’t study afterwards, enjoy the afternoon break from studying and clinic.
So, there you have it all the tips and tricks I used to do well on my Family Medicine COMAT.
If you are just starting out third year then you will soon find out that third year is pretty awesome, but also super busy. You will also find out that your time is limited because you don’t get to make your own schedule anymore.
This is one of the biggest reasons I made the CPM OMM course and book. If you don’t want to spend a ton of time studying OMM during third year you should definitely check out the course, or the book. Whichever one is your flavor.
Thanks and enjoy your Family Medicine COMAT and third year!