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Surgery COMAT


  • What is it?
  • When you take it?
  • How long is it?
  • How the scoring system works?
  • Books for the Surgery COMAT.
  • Question Bank for the Surgery COMAT.
  • Test day.

What is the surgery COMAT?:

Since you have landed at this page I am sure you are at least somewhat familiar with what the Surgery COMAT is.

Here is a short and sweet explanation: The Surgery COMAT is an exam that is written by the NBOME that you take at the end of either your general surgery rotation in 3rd year, or after both of your 3rd year surgical rotations.

It is basically a mini COMLEX exam as well. The Surgery COMAT and really any other COMAT for that matter is written very similarly to the COMLEX.

So, it is an exam that is just like the COMLEX focused on sugical medicine.

When you take the surgery COMAT:

I mentioned it earlier, so I will keep it short and sweet here. You take the Surgery COMAT during your 3rd year of med school typically. I took mine after both a general surgery and an elective surgery rotation.

How long is the surgery COMAT?:

The exam is about 2 and a half hours long with 125 questions in it. This means that you have just over one minute to get each question done.

With a time crunch like this you really need to focus on your time. There is a countdown timer at the top of the page, as well as a question tracker at the top of the browser.

Pay attention to these and make sure that at about an hour and 15 minutes you are roughly on question 75.

Looking at it this way will help keep you on track so that you are not stressing on the last few questions.

Another cool thing that I am not sure too many people have noticed is that the timing for the COMAT exams is roughly the same timing that you have for the COMLEX 2-CE.

So, if you are good to go on the COMAT exams then it is like you are taking 7 or so small COMLEX exams the year leading up to the one that matters, the COMLEX 2 CE.

How the surgery COMAT and other COMAT exams are scored:

As I have mentioned a few times, these are basically mini COMLEX exams. So it would make sense that their scoring is similar.

The COMAT exams are all scored with a mean being set at a score of 100 (no not 100%… just the number 100).

Standard deviations are set to 10 points. So 110 is one standard deviation above and 90 would be 1 standard deviation below.

At my school we had to get a 70 to pass, but they subtracted 20 from our score. So we had to at the very least get a 90 on the raw COMAT score to end up passing.

You might want to check with your school on how they do this, because I have heard that some schools are different. Some subtract 15, some subtract 10 and I think you get the point now.

Books for the Surgery COMAT:

Ultimately there are two books that I used to help me get a 120 on the surgery COMAT.

They are: Pestanas and Surgical Recall.

 Pestanas book is an absolute must for the Surgery COMAT. I think I read that thing 2-3 times during my two months of surgical rotation.

It is such a quick read that you can get through it pretty quickly without much difficulty. Also, since it is a pretty small book it is one that you can slide right into your white coat pocket pretty easily for that downtime reading in between cases.

Probably my favorite thing about Pestanas though is that the entire book is so HIGH YIELD. There is not a single part of that book that isn’t important for the test. Which if you think about it, the fact that the entire thing is high yield really makes our job as a student easy because then we don’t have to pick and choose pieces of the book to study.

Since it is a small book, I am okay with this. Surgical Recall is another story on that front, but we will get to that in a minute.

I know some people would like to hear about Online Med Ed as well, so here are my thoughts on it for the surgery COMAT.

If you can get your hands on their expensive notes, well then they cover the same stuff that Pestanas does.

I really like Online Med Ed for every other subject honestly, but I feel like if you don’t already have access to their notes then the much cheaper option would be to pick up a copy of pestanas as they ultimately cover the same stuff.

So, in review… Pestanas book is an absolute must in my opinion for the surgery COMAT.

Now, the other book that helped me rock the COMAT and equally important this book helped me look super smart in front of my preceptor.

Surgical recall is the next book I want to talk about.

This book is awesome in the fact that it covers so much information!

Almost too much information.

It was my second string book, or in other words I pulled it out after I was sure I got through enough of Pestanas for the day.

Surgical Recall made me look so smart in the OR and out on the floor when we consulted patients.

The way that I liked to use Surgical Recall was that I would check the OR board the day before our OR days to see what cases were up.

After I knew what cases we were going to have I would go home and read about them in Surgical Recall.

So let’s say we had a cholecystectomy scheduled on Wednesday morning. I would go home Tuesday night and read all about that procedure in surgical recall.

The book really hits the high points of possible pimping questions. It talks about anatomy, the steps of the surgery, the pathology, and really just about everything you could possibly be pimped on.

So, using Surgical Recall in this way will impress your surgery attending so much! Mine commented multiple times on how prepared I was for each surgery and I owe that information to Surgical Recall.

So, Surgical Recall is primarily a book for upping your game in the pimping world, but the knowledge within it can help on the surgery COMAT as well.

Just know this simple truth though, Pestanas is great for the COMAT and Surgical recall has some COMAT benefit (the anesthesia chapter), but the area Surgical Recall shines in is the fact that it makes you look like a genius to your preceptor.

 Q-Bank for the surgery COMAT:

So, really my favorite question bank for the COMAT’s in general was the COMQUEST COMAT series.

I used UWorld throughout all of third year, as we all know we should.

When focusing on each COMAT though, throughout the month I would go through both UWorld and COMQUEST for that rotation.

The COMQUEST COMAT series question bank was like giving you a look into each COMAT.

I feel like COMQUEST really focused on the important things as was able to mirror the exams so well.

How I used it was I would do UWorld and try to burn through the subject specific questions there. Once I was done with UWorld I would start drilling the COMQUEST COMAT question bank.

This was nice because doing UWorld first allowed me to build a solid foundation on the content. Then following it up with COMQUEST allowed me to hone in on the important things for the COMAT and to get a feel for the wording.

Don’t get the COMQUEST Level-2 Q-Bank, get the COMAT bundle. You won’t have time to go through all the Level-2 stuff, so get the COMAT bundle and focus on it throughout third year.

You can get 15% off any COMQUEST package at checkout by using the code: “SEAN15”

Test day:

The COMAT exams fly by!

Be prepared before the exam starts with some scratch paper and a few different pens if needed. I also liked to have some ear plugs with me to help cancel out any noise that others might be making.

All in all, the exam day for the Surgery COMAT should really mirror what you expect exam day for the COMLEX to be, as the COMAT’s are great “Mini COMLEX” exams and treating them as such will really help you prepare well for the COMLEX.

One question for you before you go,

What is one thing you wish you knew before starting medical school?

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