Question About Postponed COMLEX:
Hello, I am DO third year medical student interested in radiology. However, I worry about the current situation that I put myself in. During this COVID summer, exam dates got thoroughly messed up to the point where my COMLEX was pushed back two times, leaving me with the decision to delay the beginning of my third year to take Step I or to leave it and focus on COMLEX 1. I chose the latter decision because I was thoroughly exhausted from studying due to my postponed COMLEX. Unfortunately, I received a low score and have dug a relatively large hole for myself.
I know that trying to take Steps I, II, and COMLEX 2 is not an option in my third year. But I wanted to ask you if I had to take a year off, would it be worth taking Step 1 since by then it would be a pass/fail exam? And if I did not take Step I and significantly improved on Step 2 and COMLEX 2, what would my chances be for matching into DR after 4th year? What are other things that I can do to optimize my chances of matching right away or, if not, matching after taking a year off?
For most programs, the COMLEX exam holds much less weight than the USMLE. If you score well on the USMLE and don’t score so well on the COMLEX, it does not matter as much. That said, if you decide to take the new pass/fail USMLE Step I, the scores for the USMLE Step II become much more important, especially coming from a DO school. So, it will become a much more critical exam to do well on. I would go as far as to say that a good USMLE Step II score will become a requirement for you to get in since programs will most likely use this score as a screening criterion for interviews. (in the past, you only needed Step I.)
Taking a year off to take an exam is a red flag from a program director’s perspective. Why? Because it shows that you may not be able to multitask well. And, radiology residencies involve lots of multitasking. So, if you are taking off an entire year to take exams, it raises lots of questions from a program director’s view. If you decide to take that route, you need to do something else that will add to your CV for getting into a radiology program, such as a relevant radiology research year/fellowship. Taking off a year just to retake the exams would be a disaster for your application.
My two cents,
Barry Julius, MD