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NBOME

Exploring Test Delivery Options for Computer-Based Exams

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 22, 2020

NBOME is pleased to confirm the August 14, 2020 opening of the satellite testing center for administration of COMLEX-USA Level 1 and Level 2-CE examinations at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM; East Lansing MI). This temporary testing site is expected to be open through September and testing appointments can be made by any eligible candidate on the Prometric website. The COMLEX-USA Level 3 examination will be available at the site beginning in September 2020.

As previously communicated, the NBOME has partnered with Prometric and colleges of osteopathic medicine to provide additional capacity for COMLEX-USA examination administrations for students who were displaced by test center closures.

Two temporary satellite testing centers were established to accommodate these needs. On July 31, a satellite testing center was opened at University of North Texas Health Science Center-Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC-TCOM) in Fort Worth, Texas. Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) in East Lansing, Michigan followed shortly thereafter, opening their satellite testing center on August 14, with the first candidate testing on August 18.

Feedback from proctors and students at these centers remains positive and we anticipate nearly 200 Level 1 and 2-CE exams to be administered at these locations. Temporary satellite testing centers continue to be open through September 30.

We have seen the urgent need for securing testing seats for displaced COMLEX-USA Levels 1, 2-CE and 3 candidates diminish, but will continue to monitor the situation in the event conditions change.

AUGUST 14, 2020

NBOME is pleased to confirm the August 14, 2020 opening of the satellite testing center for administration of COMLEX-USA Level 1 and Level 2-CE examinations at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM; East Lansing MI). This temporary testing site is expected to be open through September and testing appointments can be made by any eligible candidate on the Prometric website. The COMLEX-USA Level 3 examination will be available at the site beginning in September 2020.

As previously communicated, a satellite testing center was also opened last month at University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC-TCOM; Fort Worth TX) which has been providing additional capacity for COMLEX-USA administrations. We are pleased to be able to partner with MSUCOM, TCOM and Prometric to help provide additional testing opportunities to students who were previously displaced by testing center closures.

We have seen the urgent need for securing testing seats for COMLEX-USA Levels 1, 2-CE and 3 candidates who were displaced diminish but we will continue to monitor the need for additional satellite testing centers as and if conditions change.


JULY 31, 2020

NBOME is pleased to confirm the July 31, 2020 opening of the satellite testing center for administration of COMLEX-USA Level 1, Level 2-CE and Level 3 examinations at University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC-TCOM; Fort Worth TX). This temporary testing site is expected to be open through September and testing appointments can be made by any eligible candidate on the Prometric website.

NBOME and Prometric continue to partner with Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM; East Lansing MI) for an additional satellite test center to be available in August at a date to be announced.

As previously communicated, much of the urgent need for securing testing seats for COMLEX-USA Levels 1, 2-CE and 3 candidates who were displaced due to unexpected Prometric test center closures has been met successfully. As of July 24, 2020 over 10,000 Levels 1, 2-CE and 3 examinations have been completed since the beginning of May. A total of approximately 15,000 scheduled examinations are in place through the end of December 2020.

We will keep you updated as new information becomes available about these new testing centers as well as other potential sites around the country.


JULY 13, 2020

NBOME is pleased to announce agreements in principle with (2) colleges of osteopathic medicine to develop satellite testing centers on their campuses for administration of COMLEX-USA Level 1, Level 2-CE and Level 3 examinations.

After extensive research and discussion, NBOME and Prometric have partnered with Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM; East Lansing MI), and University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC-TCOM; Fort Worth TX) on this initiative.

These sites meet the necessary requirements for test security and capacity. These university based satellite testing centers are expected to be available for student testing August through September, subject to state and local restrictions.

Much of the urgent need for securing testing seats for COMLEX-USA Level 1 and 2-CE candidates who were displaced due to unexpected Prometric test center closures has been met successfully, and though we had initially engaged other COMs for collaboration, they felt their needs had since changed. However, a limited number of satellite testing centers such as these are valuable to meet specific local needs and to provide scheduling flexibility and operating experience if future conditions dictate.

We will strive to keep you updated as new information becomes available about these new testing centers as well as other potential sites around the country.


JUNE 12, 2020

The NBOME continues to work on providing access to computer-based testing for candidates. Our current priority is on securing testing seats for COMLEX-USA Level 1 and 2-CE candidates who have been displaced due to unexpected Prometric test center closures, with a focus on increasing testing seats in June, July, and August.

We are excited to announce that we will be coordinating the opening up to four regional Prometric test centers at COMs. Our goal is for these test centers to be available for two to three months to students from COMs in surrounding areas, and we are targeting the West, Midwest, South, and East regions at this time. Site selection is based on geographical factors as well as the COM's ability to meet location, infrastructure and technical parameters, and willingness to host students from other COMs. We are actively working with four COMs, and we hope to offer testing as soon as mid to late July at one or more COM sites. We want to thank all of the COMs who have expressed support for this initiative and reached out to us about serving as potential satellite sites. We will provide updates to our website as regional sites are confirmed.

We continue to explore additional testing options, including event testing and remote proctoring. These options are being carefully evaluated based on the testing needs of COMLEX-USA candidates and the impact on security, fairness, and integrity of the examinations. We will provide another update in early July.


MAY 29, 2020

The NBOME has been exploring alternate delivery options for computer-based examinations since March 2020 and have provided regular updates to stakeholders. Our goal is to keep our stakeholders up to date without making predictions we cannot accurately substantiate. In this time of uncertainty, we hope to provide you with accurate information.

The NBOME is moving rapidly to set up regional Prometric test centers at COMs. Our goal is to partner with up to 4 regionally distributed COMs to begin testing as soon as July. We distributed a survey about the pilot requirements to all COMs on May 20th and are currently evaluating responses. Participation in the pilot requires commitment of dedicated testing space, proctor availability and network integrity to be successful. Site selection is based on geographical factors as well as the COM’s ability to meet location, infrastructure and technical parameters, and willingness to host students from other COMs. The NBOME expects to contact COMs for participation as early as next week.

We continue to evaluate all feasible short-term and long-term alternate test delivery solutions of COMLEX-USA computer-based examinations. We have made significant progress with other temporary alternate test delivery options as well, and anticipate additional updates provided publically on or around June 12th. On our website, we have made available recordings of NBOME’s webinars on the impact of COVID-19 on COMs and candidates as well as a subsequent FAQ page, both of which include information on alternate test delivery.


MAY 20, 2020

The first phase of the evaluation into alternate administration options for COMLEX-USA Level 1 and Level 2-CE included identifying technical and security requirements to protect the validity, reliability and fairness of the examinations. The universal hard-earned trust that state medical and osteopathic medical boards have in the COMLEX-USA licensure examination to assist with medical licensure decisions requires an extremely careful approach to maintain the program’s integrity. This first phase is underway and includes proof-of-concept testing of alternate proctoring solutions. The NBOME continues to explore several potentially viable delivery options, each with different levels of risk, but all in proctored environments, including:

  • Satellite Test Centers -- at Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (COMs) (smaller number of schools)
  • Remote Proctored Exams -- at COMs
  • Test Events at existing test centers in numerous COMs with simultaneous, web-based delivery
  • Remote Proctored Exams -- available anywhere

This week, the NBOME is surveying all COMs to identify those who can demonstrate the technical and other requirements and have the ability to participate in on-site pilot testing. The NBOME will then partner with select COMs in early June for pilot testing. After evaluating the results of those pilot tests, we anticipate implementing one or more alternate test delivery options as early as mid to late July.

We have been communicating directly with all COMs and, through our COM Liaison team, have delivered 16 detailed and customized reports to COMs. We anticipate all COMs will receive an additional report by the end of this week.

As of today, 98% of previously cancelled Level 1 and Level 2-CE appointments have been rescheduled at Prometric Test Centers, with 96% rescheduled in May through July. There is some regional variability due to government-mandated closures and social distancing policies. We sincerely apologize for this as well as several significant shortcomings with Prometric’s lagging scheduling technology and other limitations in customer support. Prometric currently has 284 sites open, and we have been encouraged to hear that 306 sites will be open by June 1. Between May 4, when NBOME examinations restarted, and this Friday, May 22, approximately 600 COMLEX-USA administrations will have been completed. Over 16,000 administrations are scheduled from June to August.

It remains important for us to move forward together in support of our students in these challenging times. The NBOME will continue to assist in any way we can to partner with you all for your assessment needs.


MAY 15, 2020

In response to COVID-19's impact on the safety and feasibility involved in taking examinations at Prometric test centers, the NBOME is actively exploring options for alternate test delivery. Delivering high-stakes examinations outside of test centers involves careful planning to mitigate risks to security, administration, and psychometrics of the examinations. The NBOME is dedicated to rapidly addressing these concerns while continuing to administer exams that are secure, fair, valid, reliable and defensible.

To ensure success, the NBOME is pursuing multiple options simultaneously, including the delivery of examinations through remote proctoring available anywhere, and administering examinations at COMs. We have connected with Prometric, other testing vendors, peer organizations such as NBME and our international colleagues, to assure that every potential solution is investigated on an unprecedented timeline. We have already started testing the feasibility of remote-proctored examination solutions. We aim to partner with COMs within the next month to evaluate options for examination administration at COMs. This multi-pronged approach will allow us to gather information that enables us to determine the best solution for our key stakeholders, including candidates, COMs, state licensing authorities, and the public.

As an organization, we are working around the clock to evaluate and potentially implement alternate test delivery options, as necessary, for both short-term and long-term needs. We plan to publish another update by May 30 with a decision on the feasibility of alternative options potentially as early as June 30, 2020.


MAY 1, 2020

Since the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality, the NBOME has accelerated our research, development and piloting of alternate test delivery options for NBOME assessments. We implemented COMAT-Self-proctored test form options for Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, with initial use in late March and widespread implementation in April.  In late March, we also launched COMSAE Phase 2 (self-assessments) on our CATALYST longitudinal assessment platform, available to DO students online.

With Prometric Test Centers closed through April, and the limited opening of Prometric Centers in areas of the country where essential services testing was permitted starting May 1, and to be best prepared in the event of any further “second wave” of pandemic activity closing test centers later in 2020 or the winter, we have continued to explore alternate test delivery options for COMLEX-USA exams, including remote proctoring at sites other than Prometric Centers. We are piloting remote proctoring with our COMSAE program in May. We do not envision the current COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE examination, which assesses fundamental clinical skills including physical exam skills and OMT, to be administered remotely or outside of NBOME’s National Centers for Clinical Skills Testing, but have a team exploring the changes that may be needed for this exam as well.

For the COMLEX-USA administration, our objective is to provide candidates the opportunity to complete their examination and demonstrate their competency for licensure as promptly and as safely as possible. As COMLEX-USA is a licensing examination, we are entrusted to ensure that any solution is not only timely, but assures the integrity of the examination program, that it remains valid for this purpose, preserving the reliability, defensibility and fairness of the examination. COMLEX-USA is entrusted in every state for medical licensure for DOs, therefore the integrity of the examination is of paramount concern. We have appreciated the overwhelming support of the colleges of osteopathic medicine and other stakeholders in sharing ideas for solutions and feedback.

In conjunction with identifying supplemental avenues for testing, we continue to listen and collaborate with organizations and individuals in the medical education and the medical regulatory community to address this disruption and its effects, both professionally and personally, for our candidates. Some solutions may involve temporary changes at colleges of osteopathic medicine and residency programs to policy and/or requirements, e.g., relaxing requirements for promotion, graduation, residency applications, or licensing decisions.

We recognize this is yet another stressor in the wake of this pandemic. We empathize with the unique circumstances of osteopathic medical students and residents, and indeed all of us in healthcare, medical education, and our world.  We will continue to provide updated communications regularly, and are committed to an update on alternate test administration options by May 30.


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