COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE COVID-19 FAQS
When is the NBOME opening more exam sessions? Will all of these dates be added at once?
The NBOME is working to add extra exam sessions this fall and winter in an effort to provide as much opportunity as possible for candidates to test. These new seats will be made available to all students who are eligible for the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE but we are actively exploring opportunities to prioritize students with a 2021 or earlier graduation date. We will also continue our regular schedule of opening sessions on a rolling basis, 12 months in advance.
Is there a COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE waitlist for students who have been displaced several times? Will students who have been rescheduled multiple times be prioritized?
The NBOME registration system is updated in real time, enabling candidates to monitor the system and schedule into earlier dates as they are added. Currently there is not a priority waitlist for Level 2-PE exam scheduling, but we encourage candidates who have been displaced several times to connect with their COM leadership who can help troubleshoot rescheduling challenges.
How will I know if my COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE exam date has been canceled or changed?
If the Level 2-PE exam remains scheduled in your NBOME account, the appointment still stands. Candidates will be notified by email if their scheduled appointment is cancelled or rescheduled. Communications will be sent to the email they provided for their NBOME account. We encourage candidates to monitor the NBOME COVID-19 microsite with the latest information regarding the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE exam hiatus and new exam date additions.
Will I automatically be rescheduled into an ideal date if my exam has been canceled?
Due to the many variables involved with scheduling the exam, including travel and individual candidate situations, there is no way to determine an ideal date in which to reschedule a candidates. If an exam is canceled, the NBOME encourages candidates to schedule for the next available date and to continue to monitor the exam schedule for more dates that better fit their unique circumstances.
What should I do if my exam has been canceled? Should I call the NBOME to reschedule or can I reschedule online?
Candidates may go online and log into the NBOME registration system, which is updated in real time. If your exam is canceled, you can secure the next available date and check back for newly opened seats and sessions as they are made available. It is not necessary to call the NBOME to reschedule as the self-serve online scheduling system is actually a more efficient and effective means of rescheduling. If you have extenuating circumstances that need to be addressed, however, we encourage you to reach out.
Contact NBOME at email@example.com / 866-479-6828 Monday-Friday from 7 AM to 7 PM ET for assistance.
Can I still register, schedule, cancel, or reschedule my COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE exam even though testing is currently suspended?
The NBOME scheduling portal remains open for candidates to register for the Level 2-PE, as well as to schedule a new appointment, cancel an exam, or reschedule an exam.
Are fees being waived for COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE rescheduling?
Level 2-PE rescheduling fees are waived through December 31, 2020.
How can I see available dates without having to cancel my existing exam date first?
Once you are logged into your NBOME account, click on the ‘My Account’ tab and locate the ‘Looking for Open PE Dates?’ button. You then can reschedule your exam for any acceptable date.
When I hit ‘Reschedule’ will I lose my seat?
Yes. The COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE rescheduling process requires a candidate release their existing seat before selecting a new testing date. The NBOME encourages candidates to use the ‘Looking for PE dates? Click here’ button within the My Account tab of their NBOME portal account to view available dates. The NBOME cautions candidates that seat selection operates in real-time, and seats may be claimed by others while you are in the process of releasing your existing seat. This function is being revised in our portal upgrade process but, unfortunately, cannot currently be overridden by any means.
My exam is still being held but I am traveling from a hotspot. What should I do?
If you are located in an area of high disease activity, it is strongly encouraged that you reschedule your exam. You are encouraged to exercise appropriate clinical caution with decisions regarding both travel and participation in the exam.
Will BOTH centers reopen on the same date? Is it possible one location may open before the other, based on local guidelines?
At this time, the NBOME is targeting November 1st to re-open both National Centers for Clinical Skills Testing (NCCSTs), but we continue to monitor the situation closely and will adjust dates based on local restrictions and to preserve the health and safety of our candidates, standardized patients and staff.
I am a 2020 graduate who still has to take my COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE exam. I am afraid that if I do not do so, my residency and graduation status will be affected. What can I be doing to ensure that I complete the exam before graduation?
Some standards have been relaxed in relation to graduation for the class of 2021. Your COM dean should be able to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information about potential challenges related to graduation and residency program status. More information is available through the joint statement from AACOM, AOA, COCA and NBOME. But should you need additional assistance, contact NBOME at firstname.lastname@example.org / 866-479-6828 Monday-Friday from 7 AM to 7 PM ET for assistance.
What if I can’t test before my college of osteopathic medicine’s (COM’s) deadline?
The NBOME has been in close contact with all of the COMs throughout the pandemic and continues to encourage them to consider modifying such deadlines based on the extraordinary circumstances. More information is available through the joint statement from AACOM, AOA, COCA and NBOME. But should you need additional assistance, contact NBOME at email@example.com / 866-479-6828 Monday-Friday from 7 AM to 7 PM ET for assistance.
Are there discussions with stakeholders about changing match deadlines due to inability to test?
Yes, discussions regarding secondary uses of exam results are currently underway. The Coalition for Physician Accountability is encouraging all stakeholders to understand the current situation’s multiple challenges. And the NBOME has advocated that residency program directors not hold students accountable for licensure exam results that they have been unable to take due to the pandemic.
How are you working with other organizations in medical licensing and education to find options for helping candidates with scheduling and other testing issues?
The NBOME is assigning a staff liaison to each college of osteopathic medicine and has been supportive of COCA’s decision for both the class of 2020 and 2021 regarding COMLEX-USA requirements. More information is available through the joint statement from AACOM, AOA, COCA and NBOME. The NBOME advocated for alternative testing dates for ERAS, for relaxing program director expectations for test results. The NBOME also works with other organizations, such as AACOM and the AOA, and the Coalition for Physician Accountability advocating for alliances that benefit candidates.
Masks, illness, social distancing
What if I have respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough and/or fever) when I show up for my exam?
Candidates diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, candidates who exhibit flu- or cold-like symptoms, and candidates who have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days are not to report to the testing center for their exam. We will be conducting thermal and symptom screening onsite prior to registration. You will also receive notice of these screening questions 2 weeks prior to your scheduled exam. If you report to the center showing signs of illness, you will be asked to leave and allowed to reschedule your exam without fee.
If I have respiratory symptoms that I believe are unrelated to COVID-19 (e.g., allergies), will this prevent me from being able to take the exam?
The NBOME encourages any candidate with respiratory symptoms to consider rescheduling their exam if the symptoms are not well controlled. If you have a chronic condition that produces allergy-related respiratory symptoms you will be asked to bring a note of medical clearance from your physician.
Do I have to wear a mask? Will masks be provided?
Candidates are required to wear face masks or coverings for the entirety of their time at the NBOME testing center, with the exception of lunch time. Candidates should arrive at the testing center wearing their own face mask, at which point they will be given a mask by the NBOME to use during the examThe provided mask will be the same as those used by standardized patients, with a clear face panel to enable patients and candidates to allow for natural interaction as much as possible.
Is there a remote option for the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE?
Currently, the NBOME does not envision the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE examination, which assesses fundamental clinical skills including physical exam and OMT, to be administered remotely or outside of the NBOME’s National Centers for Clinical Skills Testing (NCCSTs).
My ID is expired. Can I still take my exam?
Government-issued IDs with expiration dates from Feb 1, 2020 forward will be accepted for testing. All other ID policies specific to the program still apply.
How can we be sure there will be appropriate safety measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission in a center where students from all over the country will be gathering? What precautions are you taking to ensure the safety of students?
With a keen sensitivity to the pressures and challenges of testing during these uncertain times, we are taking every precaution to ensure a safe and comfortable testing experience for candidates, as well as for our staff and standardized patients.
Has there been any consideration for changing how the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE exam will be administered in the future? Are virtual visits being considered?
Decisions regarding the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE examinations are made based on the role the exam plays in the NBOME’s mission to protect the public. The examination is valid and reliable in assessing minimal competence in the clinical skills deemed necessary to enter GME.
Assessing physical exam skills and OMT skills are an integral part of the examination and deemed essential for this process.
Why is COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE a necessary exam for students who have already successfully completed 2 years of standardized patient simulations (during didactic years) and 1 year of clinical rotations?
The American public relies on a medical credentialing system that requires physician candidates to be evaluated against a common standard. While osteopathic medical students are evaluated by their schools and on clinical rotations, there is significant variation among the osteopathic medical colleges in assessment of clinical skills. As such, state medical licensing boards and the public rely on the NBOME and COMLEX-USA for independent assessment of medical competencies. In the interest of reducing medical errors and medical malpractice, many incidences of which are directly related to deficiencies in clinical skills and doctor-patient communication, the NBOME developed the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE to assess these skills for licensure. Finally, numerous studies in medical education document the lack of actual verification of clinical skills and even the lack of direct observation of these skills. More information on the development and validity of these types of clinical skills examinations can be found on our website:
Have you considered increasing the number of testing sites? Having only two sites in the entire country lends itself to increased travel and increased risk of viral spread.
An additional testing site in the western third of the US was already under consideration, but due to the complexity, cost, and time investment involved with standing up these types of testing sites, as well as our commitment to ensuring fairness in the complex equating and psychometric processes, this process takes time. As with the addition of our second testing center 3 years ago in Chicago, we also hope to minimize any additional exam fees when adding a third site.
In light of NBME’s decision to suspend USMLE Step 2-CS administrations for the next 12-18 months, how does NBOME justify continued administration of COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE in the current climate of COVID-19?
Many questions focused on why we do not “follow suit” with the NBME/ECFMG sponsored USMLE Step 2-CS. While we support the NBME’s decision for their own candidates, and we agree with the NBME/FSMB (co-owners of the USMLE program) that an important “guiding principle is that performance-based assessment of certain competencies is essential for medical licensure,” it is important to recognize that there are some differences. Just as it becomes easier to slowly “open up” businesses to smaller groups of people, it will be easier for NBOME, who provides examinations to a smaller cohort, to slowly “open up for testing” in the fall without waiting 12-18 months.
The NBME has a different cohort of candidates, with responsibility to an international community of physicians looking to earn certification in the United States. This adds further complexity to their administrations and decision-making.
We recognize the many candidate concerns related to expectations or even requirements by Residency Program Directors and their Deans related to Level 2-PE. We have endeavored to make the modifications necessary to provide for access to testing, provided this meets an individual’s interests and personal circumstances.
Further, we have advocated on behalf of students to both the Deans and Program Director community, asking that they not hold students accountable for results of licensure exams they were not able to take due to COVID-19. More information is available through the joint statement from AACOM, AOA, COCA and NBOME.
We are optimistic the safety modifications being made to the administration of Level 2-PE, with appropriate external expert review, will allow us to resume access to the examination for those who are ready and interested in testing.
We know there will be different circumstances for each candidate, and continue to suggest that anyone who would like to postpone testing for any reason, be it personal safety, safety of loved ones, travel concerns, etc., that they do so.
Read the latest updates about COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE testing here.