Medical EducationOriginal Article

Student Performance on Levels 1 and 2-CE of COMLEX-USA: Do Elective Upper-Level Undergraduate Science Courses Matter?

Stanley K. Wong, PhD; Juan R. Ramirez, PhD; and Scott C. Helf, DO, MSIT
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: November 24, 2008

Accepted: March 30, 2009

Published: November 1, 2009

J Osteopath Med; 109(11): 592-598

Context: The effect of a variety of preadmission variables, including the number of elective preadmission upper-level science courses, on academic achievement is not well established.

Objectives: To investigate the relationship between number of preadmission variables and overall student academic achievement in osteopathic medical school.

Methods: Academic records of osteopathic medical students in the 2008 and 2009 graduating classes of Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California, were analyzed. Multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to identify predictors of academic achievement based on Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) subscores, undergraduate grade point average (GPA), GPA in medical school basic science (preclinical GPA) and clinical clerkship (clinical GPA), and scores on the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA (COMLEX-USA) Level 1 and Level 2-Cognitive Evaluation (CE).

Results: Records of 358 osteopathic medical students were evaluated. Analysis of β coefficients suggested that undergraduate science GPA was the most important predictor of overall student academic achievement (P<.01). Biological sciences MCAT subscore was a more modest but still statistically significant predictor of preclinical GPA and COMLEX-USA Level 1 score (P<.01). Physical sciences MCAT subscore was also a statistically significant predictor of preclinical GPA, and verbal reasoning MCAT subscore was a statistically significant predictor of COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE score (both P<.01). Women had statistically significantly higher preclinical GPA and COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE scores than men (P<.05). Differences in some outcome variables were also associated with racial-ethnic background and age. Number of preadmission elective upper-level science courses taken by students before matriculation was not significantly correlated with any academic achievement variable.

Conclusions: Although undergraduate science GPA and MCAT biological sciences subscore were significant predictors of overall academic achievement for osteopathic medical students, the number of elective upper-level science courses taken preadmission had no predictive value.

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