Combank is one of the two main question banks that is designed to help medical students prepare specifically for the COMLEX. (The other is COMQUEST. You can check out its review here.)
I want to give you a thorough review of Combank. Therefore, this review will answer the following questions:
- What does Combank question bank look like?
- How many questions are there?
- How much does Combank cost?
- Does Combank prepare you for COMLEX?
- Should you buy Combank or not?
(Just as a side note, this review is based on the Level 2 question bank. More likely than not, the quality of the Level 2 question bank should be similar to the Level 1 and Level 3 question banks. So if Level 2 is good, Level 1 and Level 3 should be good.)
It is my hope that by the end of this review, you will have enough information to make an education decision on whether you want to buy this question bank or not.
So, let’s begin.
What Does Combank Question Bank Look Like?
The best way to answer this question is through pictures. As “they” say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
These images have been scaled down. So click on an image to bring up a bigger picture.
Picture 1 – Progress Screen
This is the first screen you’ll see after you log in.
The big number on the top left shows the percentage you got right. The numbers underneath shows how many of the questions you answered, the total questions you answered correctly, the total questions you answered incorrectly, the average time you spend per question, and what percentage of questions other people got right.
If you look at my numbers, you see what I only answered 64.2% of the questions correctly (compared to an average of 65.9%). I was also 90% done with the exam.
In addition, your performance is broken down into categories (i.e. cardiology, dermatology, etc.). In the picture, you can see that I am strong in gynecology and somewhat weak in endocrine.
The big chart in the middle shows how you are doing over time. I started out doing really poorly — getting only 50% correct in my first practice exam. Towards the end, my results were much higher, 80% or more. So although overall I did worse than my peers, I am improving significantly over time.
As you can see in my previous practice exams, under “My Latest Tests,” all my last three practice exams were higher than average. You can also review previous practice exams if you would like.
Click on the “Create a Test” button on top to bring you to the next screen.
Picture 2 – Create a New Exam
Creating a new exam should be pretty self-explanatory.
You can choose how many questions you want in your practice exam (up to 50).
You can also choose whether you want a timed test, untimed test, or tutor test. I don’t think I have to talk much about the timed and untimed mode. Normally, the right answer and explanation to each question are shown when you review the exam, after answering all the questions. In tutor mode, the right answer and explanation are shown after answering each question — there is no need to review the exam to get them.
You can also choose how you want your test to look. I just leave it on the “COMLEX” option because that is the test I am taking.
Last, but not least, you can choose the subjects for your practice exam. So if you want your exam to simulate an a real exam, click on “Select All Categories.” If you want to strengthen your knowledge in a particular field (i.e. endocrine), choose that field.
Once everything is good, click on “Start the Test!” button.
Picture 3 – Exam Interface
This is the most important part of the practice exam — the interface. As you can see, this is under the COMLEX view.
With the buttons in the top right, you can write a short note to yourself, pause the exam, or leave the exam.
The yellow pencil enables you to highlight. As you can see, “left transverse process of C4 to be posterior” and “less symmetrical in flexion” are highlighted. The red “S” allows you to cross things out. “A 40-year old female” and three answer choices are crossed out. Although I did not use the strikeout option too much, highlighting was pretty useful.
You can access lab values with the green button on the bottom right. The “next” button brings you to the next question. The “comment” button sends your message to Combank. I sent about 10 messages to Combank over the course of 2 months — mainly because I disagreed with its answers. Combank only got back to me 2 out of the 10 times I sent in a comment. I was quite disappointed with its customer service. The “mark” button lets you flag the question so you can review it later. And the “review” button brings you to the end of the exam, where you can see which questions you did not answer and see which questions you marked.
If you are in tutor mode, clicking on the “Show / Hide Explanation” will bring you to the next screen.
Picture 4 – Explanation
This is what the answer and explanation look like.
It will first show you the right answer in bold. Then it will explain why the answer is right. Afterwards, it will explain why each of the other choices are wrong. Then it will summarize the main point. And sometimes, it will include an “insight” that will give you hints and tips during the actual COMLEX. Finally, the end of the explanation will point you to another source if you want to confirm the answer and explanation.
Thoughts on Combank Interface
Overall, Combank did a pretty good job of simulating the feel of COMLEX. I am very impressed. I really like how you can highlight and strikeout. These functions were missing when I used COMQUEST.
I really like how I can copy and paste the question, answer, and explanation onto another text program, such as Notepad or Word. (Personally, I study by copying and pasting to a Word document. Then I highlight the important parts to make reviewing much faster.) This is really user friendly because it allowed me to study the way I want to study. With COMQUEST, I could not copy and paste the questions.
This is one major thing that Combank did better than COMQUEST.
How Many Questions Are There?
This question could be answered by looking at Picture 1 and Picture 2.
There are a total of 2063 questions.
The categories and numbers of questions per category are listed below:
- cardiology: 209
- dermatology: 68
- endocrine: 95
- GI: 141
- gynecology: 82
- heme / onc: 128
- infectious diseases: 180
- medical ethics / law: 100
- nephrology: 69
- neurology: 124
- obstetrics: 130
- OMM: 184
- pediatrics: 156
- psychiatry: 75
- pulmonary: 124
- rheumatology: 51
- surgery: 147
How Much Does Combank Cost?
The price depends on the length of your subscription:
- 30-days: $89
- 60-days: $129
- 90-days: $169
- 180-days: $289
- 365-days: $389
If you choose the one-year subscription service, that comes to $0.19 per question. (COMQUEST was $0.32 per question.)
Does Combank Prepare you for COMLEX?
In one word: yes.
While I used COMQUEST to prepare for the COMAT, I specifically used Combank to prepare for the COMLEX. (Are you confused with all these names beginning with “Com?” Don’t worry, I was too. )
Unlike the other osteopathic question bank, Combank’s questions are really wide and diverse. The Step 2 question bank asked about basic medical sciences, diagnosis, imaging, treatment, and even WTF, mate topics.
When I first encountered questions that truly belonged in the Step 1 exam, I asked, “Are you serious? This is a waste of time.” But then I reflected upon my Step 1 experience, and I realized that the osteopathic licensing exams have no boundries. No matter which step or level you are taking, you can encounter anything. So I took in a deep breath of air, opened my First Aid book, dived right in, and reviewed my basics all over again. Oh joy.
The good thing about this question bank is that it forces you to review everything. And you really should review everything, because COMLEX is a “WTF, mate” kind of a test.
Should You Buy Combank or Not?
You should buy the Combank question bank, along with the COMQUEST question bank. The more practice questions you do, the better prepared you will be for the real thing.
The quality of Combank’s questions are not as high as COMQUEST’s. As I mentioned previously, I found more than 10 errors. I contacted the company through the question bank interface, and only received two responses. So for every 5 questions you have, expect less than 1 response. Obviously, customer service is not their strong point.
Combank makes up for its lower quality and poorer service through the sheer number of questions. You get quantity over quality. COMQUEST has a total of 1,091 questions. Combank has almost twice the amount: 2,063. Since the price of both question banks are similar, you are getting a better deal in terms of cost per question by going with Combank.
I basically used Combank and COMQUEST as a guide — helping me decide what topics I should focus on. What I have found is that you should study everything. Everything is high-yield.
Without attending lecture or watching pre-recorded lectures online, I have successfully passed my first two licensing exams, both on the first try, just by using Combank and COMQUEST and some review books.
New! Learn how to pass COMLEX 2-PE on the first try. See here to find out more.
This article is part of The Complete Guide to COMLEX. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about the osteopathic medical board exams.