Question on step 3 comlex

Hi All,

I am new to this forum. I will be starting PGY I AOA residency this summer. I am trying to figure out how I am gonna’ be studying for step 3. It takes me more prep time than others for these tests (spent 3.5 mo each on step 1 and step 2 with mediocre scores). I trying to figure out if there is anything I can do to improve my efficiency. I know that there won’t be much time to study for step 3 during the internship year. I really don’t want to fail the boards. I think part of my difficulty comes from not spending enough time doing the rote memorization (I was a math major, hence it is hard for me to sit and do it). How often do you just sit and repeatedly write down stuff (for eg heart murmurs)? This may just be where my problem lays.


Hi! I’m starting PGY1 as well in an AOA residency! When I have to do memorization, I generally set my kitchen timer and spend no more than 15 minutes at one time on it, as research shows your retention doesn’t improve after more time. The trick is to do a LOT of “15 minutes”

More often I try to to come up with a mnemonic or mental image to help me remember stuff.

When I was studying for Step 1, for example, I was looking at pag 147 in my First Aid book and trying to memorize the gramp positive bacteria and a few characteristics.

Here’s the INFO: Staph, strep, Listeria, clostridium, corynybacteria, mycobacterium (acid fast), bacillus, actinomyces and nocardia (branching filaments) and that mycoplasma had no cell wall.

So I made up a story about a monk (cloistered --gives me “clostridrium”) who was on a ship and was grwoing basil (to remember “bacillus”)

It went like this:

on the S.S. Lister (staph, strep, Listeria), cloistered (clostridium) monk Myc (mycobacterium) is fast (mycobacterium is acid fast) at growing basil (bacillus) for the Queen’s coronation (corynation = corynebacterium). He ACTS (actinomyces) like he has no heart (nocardia) for branching out (actinomyces and nocardia are branching filamentous), but Myc. (Mycoplasma) really has no walls (mycplasma has no walls) against it.

In short : S. S. Lister cloistered monk Myc is fast at growing basil for corynation. Acts like he has no heart for branching out, but Myc really has no walls.

Did it take a while to figure out a picture/story? Yes. But I think it is often key to memorizing. The guy who won the national memorization contest gave a TedTalk on memorizing:

Regarding studying, I’m figuring on trying to spend 1 hour a day reading or studying. Been working on a notebook with study notes the last few months --using that to help.


On the test, when I had to decide if something was gram positive or gram negative, I jotted my 2 sentances down, wrote out the gram positives, and if it wasn 't on the list, figured it was gram negative.

Thanks, Kate. Very nice meeting you. I am watching the video right now. I think one reason I take longer is also because I really try hard to make sense out of everything I read. Not great when you only have limited amount of time…

Ok. Remember that you should complete COMLEX 3 before the end of your intern year. However, you will be very, very busy with being, well, an intern.

Your goal should be be read about 1 hour a day. Find a patient that you treated and read about their condition. That will really help you more for boards though. When I took COMLEX 3, which is like COMLEX 2 but with the addition of ridiculous insurance questions, I spent about 3 months doing practice questions with Combank and Comquest.

All in all, I did about 2000 questions before taking COMLEX 3. The thing about this test is that no one really cares about the results as long as you pass.