Medical EducationOriginal Article

Relationship of Admissions Variables and College of Osteopathic Medicine Variables to Performance on COMLEX-USA Level 3

Helen H. Baker, PhD, MBA; Victoria L. Shuman, DO; Lance C. Ridpath, MS; Lorenzo L. Pence, DO; Robert M. Fisk, PhD, MA; and Craig S. Boisvert, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: June 25, 2014

Accepted: November 14, 2014

Published: February 1, 2015

J Osteopath Med; 115(2): 100-109

Context: New accreditation standards require that all US colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) publically report the first-time pass rates of graduates on the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA (COMLEX-USA) Level 3. Little is known about the extent to which admissions variables or COM performance measures relate to Level 3 performance.

Objectives: To examine the relationship of admissions variables and COM performance to scores on Level 3 and to assess whether a relationship existed between Level 3 scores and sex, curriculum track, year of graduation, and residency specialty in the first postgraduate year.

Methods: Data were analyzed from 4 graduating classes (2008-2011) of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg. Relationships were examined between first-attempt scores on COMLEX-USA Level 3 and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores; undergraduate grade point averages (GPAs); GPAs in COM year 1, year 2, and clinical rotation years (years 3 and 4); and first-attempt scores on COMLEX-USA Level 1, Level 2-Cognitive Evaluation, and Level 2-Performance Evaluation.

Results: Of the 556 graduates during this 4-year period, COMLEX-USA Level 3 scores were available for 552 graduates (99.3%). No statistically significant differences were found in Level 3 scores based on sex, curriculum track, graduating class, or residency specialty. The strongest relationship between Level 3 scores and any admissions variable was with total MCAT score, which accounted for 4.2% of the variation in Level 3 scores. The strongest relationship between Level 3 scores and COM year performance measures was with year 2 GPA, which accounted for 35.4% of the variation in Level 3 scores. Level 1 scores accounted for 38.5% of the variation in Level 3 scores, and Level 2-Cognitive Evaluation scores accounted for the greatest percentage of variation (45.7%). The correlation of Level 3 scores with passing the Level 2-Performance Evaluation on the first attempt was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: A weak relationship was found between admissions variables and performance on COMLEX-USA Level 3, suggesting that graduates with lower MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs may have overcome their early disadvantage. Strong relationships were found between Level 3 scores and year 2 GPAs, as well as scores on COMLEX-USA Level 1 and Level 2-Cognitive Evaluation.

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