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NBOME Examination Updates

September 16, 2019


COMLEX-USA  |  New Level 1 and Level 2-CE Exams Have Launched

We are pleased to announce the completed launch of all elements of the enhanced COMLEX-USA exam series under the new COMLEX-USA Enhanced Master Blueprint.  Level 1 successfully released this spring, followed by Level 2-CE’s in late summer. These exams have joined Level 3 and Level 2PE, which launched in 2018 and earlier this year, respectively.  New passing standards for COMLEX-USA Level 1 and 2 have also been implemented for the 2019-2020 test cycles.

This multi-stage release is the culmination of nearly 10 years of work in evidence-based design by experts and leaders from across the organization and the country who contributed in all areas to the creation and deployment of this state-of-the-art assessment.

The exams launched to heavy candidate volume with over 1,500 candidates completing each exam during the first weeks. To date, over 5,000 Level 1 examinations have been administered, with similar numbers for Level 2-CE.

These examinations also mark a move to Prometric’s new test driver, SURPASS, where NBOME already administers its Core Osteopathic Recognition Readiness Examination (CORRE), as well as the latest version of COMLEX-USA Level 3.  Since the move to SURPASS, some students have encountered performance problems during their administrations, including latency and examination restarts.  Prometric continues to investigate the cause and has made system upgrades in early June to address issues.  NBOME is currently offering online tutorials for Levels 1, 2-CE and 3 for candidates who would like to learn more about the new test interface being offered at Prometric Testing Centers.

Please visit the COMLEX-USA pages of our website to learn more.



COMAT  |  Foundational Biomedical Sciences (FBS) Exams Available this Academic Year

Since the inception of the COMAT Clinical Exams in 2011, osteopathic medical students have taken over 250,000 COMAT Clinical exams. As a result, we have seen dramatic improvement in COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE scores by osteopathic medical students. This is particularly important in the era of Single Accreditation for GME.

Celebrating 85 years of protecting the public through valid and reliable licensing exams, NBOME has spent the last 5 years developing an expanded COMAT portfolio to assist in DO student success.

COMAT Clinical exams initially focused on assessment of clinical education and knowledge typically found in year 3 and 4 COM curriculum. The success of this initial series of exams led the NBOME, in collaboration with its National Faculty, to expand its offerings and develop assessments for the Foundational Biomedical Science (FBS) curriculum which take place during year 1 and 2. After careful development and testing, the COMAT FBS Comprehensive (FBS-C) exam became available in December 2018. Since its inception, the 5-hour, 250-question COMAT FBS-C has successfully been utilized by many COMs across the country. This assessment has enabled both COM students and faculty to better understand the effectiveness of the school’s classroom curriculum and identify areas for student development.

Scheduled for release in January 2020, the suite of 14 FBS Targeted (FBS-T) exams further supports osteopathic medical student professional success. These exams are divided between 6 core science disciplines, including Anatomy and Pharmacology, as well as 8 body systems, including musculoskeletal and cardiovascular. Each 90 minute, 62 question COMAT FBS-T exam is designed to evaluate a student’s knowledge in a focused subject area. Timely score reports detail areas of strength and challenge, and will provide COM faculty and students insight to guide COMLEX-USA Level 1 preparation.

Should you have any questions about COMAT or the new FBS examinations, please visit the COMAT pages of our website.

Contributed by:  Michael Finley, DO  |  Senior VP for Assessment  |  NBOME 



CATALYST  |  Continuous Learning Platform

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could make learning new material easier?  And what if you could avoid taking another traditional multiple-choice exam to demonstrate what you’ve learned?

Inspired by research from leading cognitive psychologists, as well as by the success of the American Board of Anesthesiology’s MOCA-Minute, the NBOME began its research journey into developing its own continuous learning platform – CATALYST.

CATALYST is a formative assessment platform designed as an alternative to traditional physician competence and practice-relevant assessment. Based on the outcomes of several successful pilots conducted in 2017 and 2018, the NBOME has expanded its partnership with ITS to develop a more sophisticated platform that can be customized to meet various client assessment needs.

With the primary goal of eliciting user feedback on the newly designed platform, the CATALYST 2.0 Platinum Pilot was released on June 5.  Participants included osteopathic medical students, residents, NBOME National Faculty and NBOME staff. Learners were asked to answer 70 multiple-choice questions during a five-week period and were offered a choice of receiving 2 items a day, 14 items a week, or all 70 items at once. Following the completion of each item, participants were asked to gauge their confidence in answering the question and the question’s relevance to their specialty / field of study. Whether or not the question was answered correctly, the participant was provided with immediate feedback including the correct answer, a rationale for the answer, as well as references and links to additional learning resources.

Feedback has been very positive — 94% said the platform met their expectations and 91% found the system easy to navigate. What did participants like most about CATALYST?  One responded that it was “very easy to navigate, good questions.” Another “liked that the platform showed the learning objectives of each question, helped identify why the question was being asked, and identified what the learning goals were for each question.” And a National Faculty member liked that “it could be done on my own time across multiple platforms and devices.”

The cross-functional CATALYST team, led by Sandra Waters, MEM, VP for Collaborative Assessment & Initiatives, is preparing for the next CATALYST release in September which will include an enhanced dashboard with normative statistics, highlighting of item components, and streamlined registration. Preparation has also begun for the delivery of COMSAE Phase 2 on CATALYST, providing COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE candidates the opportunity for alternative learning through formative assessment.

Contributed by:  Dot Horber, PhD  |  Director for Continuous Professional Development  |  NBOME