“I am a third semester student and I would like to ask you for some advice. I am deeply worried about the comprehensive shelf exam pass rate (~ 50%). I do not wish to have to retake it in the US. My goal is to focus on step 1 during that time. I have heard of a few people failing out of Ross because they did not pass COMP the 3 or 4 chances given. I plan on coming back a week early before school starts to start studying for COMP. In addition, is your study habits the same in which you applied for the step exam as well? They make the comp sound impossible…but it has to be possible.”
Short answer: the fact that you are already thinking about your study strategies for the comp exam and step 1 shows me that you will pass.
Long answer: Let’s get down to the dirty details now that I’ve delivered my mandatory inspirational quote for the day. First off, if you haven’t already check out my original post where I describe some general advice on how to pass your comprehensive shelf exam. That post is meant for fourth semester students who just took their final and now have one remaining month to study for the COMP. I know the curriculum has changed at Ross since I left the island and I’m not sure if they still give you one month for the COMP but the basic philosophy I describe should still be applicable.
I don’t know what the COMP passing rate is but even if I had those statistics I would be willing to bet that they would include quite a few confounding variables. Frankly, if you put in the time and effort you should be able to pass the COMP on your first try. The few people I know who failed the COMP failed because they didn’t put in enough effort. They treated the month before the COMP as a mini vacation more than a dedicated study period (see previous blog post above).
When I was on the island I also heard those alleged rumors of students failing the COMP on multiple attempts. They are just rumors. Even if they are true then those students are likely the outliers on the standard bell curve. They are the exception, not the rule. From here on out your mindset is not whether you pass or not. Your new mindset is how well you will do when you pass.
Now everyone is different and every student has his or her own study habits. Personally, when I left the island in between each semester I did zero studying. I may have organized and reprinted some notes but I certainly didn’t study. Let alone come back early to study. So for the sake of sanity do not go back early. That being said, everyone is different and you know yourself better than I do. So if you want to go back early to study then do it! I am simply concerned that you will burn out. Especially since during my fourth semester we had those dreaded eight hour days of lecture three days a week. I don’t know if that has changed or not but an entire semester of medical school is enough of a reason for me not to go back to the island early to study. So, again, if you are the type of person who alleviates their anxiety by studying then by all means go ahead but before you make any rash decisions check out my original post. Specifically the part about recharging your batteries.
Lastly, the study strategies that I employed for the COMP were identical to what I did for step one. A morning question set took me one hour to take and three hours to review. Then a one hour break followed by a four hour block of videos in the afternoon. That was followed up by an evening run on the beach, pick up game of basketball, or lifting session at the gym. Followed by a calm review session of everything I looked over that day after dinner. Then sleep, eat, study, repeat. Sleep, eat, study, repeat.
In the end, your step one score = (how smart you are) x (how hard you work). There is always someone out there who is smarter than you but there is no excuse for there being someone who works harder than you.