This past week, I got the privilege of talking to Jeff Nazar, D.O., the founder of COMQUEST! For those of you unfamiliar with what it is, it’s a program that offers a large question bank for the COMLEX levels 1-3, and also COMAT questions & practice exams (3rd and 4th year shelf exams on rotations). Not only do they provide a large variety of highly relevant questions while filtering out the minutia that we are unlikely to be tested on, they track your time and progress along the way and compare it to your peers to let you see where you stand. Originally started in 2008, COMQUEST has grown to a team of dozens of academic physicians and administrative staff who genuinely care about students’ success on the COMLEX and COMAT. They ensure that you pass your exams with higher scores, less preparation time, and less anxiety. Their focus is on teaching you what’s really important for your exam so that you score as high as possible.
To get a subscription today or learn more about COMQUEST click here www.comquestmed.com Now, let’s get to know Jeff!
1.What is it like being the founder of COMQUEST ~ what is your typical day?
It is a great privilege for me and wonderful being the founder and CEO of COMQUEST because it is a company that I built, that I love, that I take extreme pride in, and I believe in. I would use COMQUEST if I was a student studying for boards, and that is said with a great deal of knowledge about the current test prep industry and other available products. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of the product that we put into the hands of our students, and I am still constantly seeking improvement.
As for my day-to-day activities, I am very busy! I even had to make the difficult decision to give up my clinical practice. In order to maintain a high-quality, currently relevant product, I personally task myself with overseeing many of the operations. It is difficult to allow complete delegation of duties when you are a person with a unique and specific vision. Our medical content team that is comprised of extremely talented physician authors and editors is updating our COMLEX and COMAT question banks nearly every day and I remain very involved with overseeing the content and still personally review every question and explanation before publication. I meet with each of our departments at least once a week. I travel a great deal meeting with school administrators, providing seminars for school faculty responsible for writing test-questions, providing seminars for students regarding test preparation, and I am very active in supporting the numerous medical school and medical student associations and make a point to make it to meetings and conferences. As a physician trained to understand the importance of outcomes research and data, I am personally very involved in efforts to assess the impact of our products and programs on test scores. Several analytics involve a collaborative effort with several medical schools. I think this data is pertinent to the direction of the company, so I spend a great deal of time obtaining and reviewing data from our students and schools.
2. How did you come up with COMQUEST?
Going through my four years of medical school and further post-graduate training, I was subject to these same benchmark tests and the licensure process that COMQUEST now targets. At that time, I used virtually all the products on the market and all the resources available to me. It is a very stressful time and the scores of these exams can impact your entire medical career. I became frustrated with the products available at that time and was strongly dissatisfied with the quality of resources provided in such a crucial moment in training. I began making my own study notes, study questions, mnemonics and memory triggers to assist in my studies as I thrived to reach a high level of success in passing those exams, knowing the impact those scores have on one’s career. Ultimately, conquering tests became my passion. I was driven in my preparation process before each exam and before taking the COMLEX. Having achieved success, my peers were drawn to group study sessions where I would work to isolate the likely testable material. As I began writing practice questions, they would be distributed among the class and even remained in circulation for the classes that followed. I recognized my gift and passion in test preparation and later worked to surround myself with a strong team to ultimately create the company we have today.
3. What was medical school like for you?
I think my medical school experience would mirror most any medical students’ experience. It is the most challenging four academic years of any physicians’ life. I would be awake at the crack of dawn, I would fall asleep in between pages of a book late into the night. We would have eight straight hours of lecture with minimal breaks followed by long hours of studying that material trying to master it and commit it to memory. The learning curve is so steep, I quickly gained a solid understanding of human health, function, and pathology. We had a medical school class of roughly 200 students and still to this day I consider all of them friends. Because you are all in the struggle together it bonds you for life. I got some great experiences in and out of the hospitals that remain lifelong memories. I made friends that will be close to me for life. It was one of the hardest things I have accomplished and one of the most gratifying things I have done.
4. How should we incorporate the question bank into our daily study routines?
We have actually done several studies to identify the best approach to board study. We have come to the conclusion that the most optimal way to prepare for boards is to gain access to a quality question bank and know it well. My bias would be COMQUEST, of course. The important thing is to find the highest quality set of questions, not the most abundant set of questions. As the student progresses through their second year organ systems, they should be ending their study day each day going through the questions specific to that organ system. They should do so in tutor mode so they can read the explanations as they go to achieve a thorough understanding of the material to supplement their course material. Before they take their system exam, they should quickly run through those specific questions in random test mode to ensure they are keeping the pace needed to succeed on test day. A similar approach should then be used in board exam study. About three months prior to their test date, they should be reviewing their notes, books, and questions on tutor mode for each system. The key here is to maintain a rapid pace to get through all the material. About one month before the exam date, focus on the question bank and start doing random questions to cover all the topics. Finally about ten days out from exam date, you want to assimilate the actual exam and work on stamina. You will want to do only random test mode and after each exam immediately start a new exam. Do this for four-hour blocks, two blocks daily. Many people worry that they are reusing the same questions through these steps and try to expand out their question bank with additional resources. Remember the key to success is mastering specific concepts and understand the presentations you will see. This is the reason we focus on quality carefully worded questions and encourage the students to master these questions. As you progress through each question several times, you will pick up on subtleties that weren’t noticed before. This is when you are reaching the mastery level of those concepts we are trying to teach. During clinical rotations, start preparing for the shelf exams from day one with one of our COMAT products. These were written specifically for the shelf exams and have much longer stems and explanations. The COMAT is not something you want to cram for and you’ll want to use the COMAT question banks to also get familiar with the conditions you’ll encounter on the clerkship.
5. Do you have any advice for pre-meds out there reading this that are currently wanting to get into medical school?
Effort and persistence will get you there. Spend the time to pick the brains of people who have successfully been through the process and even well beyond the process if you can gain access to those people. There are specific things that are sought in the applications and specific wording that demonstrate one’s level of participation and understanding of the medical community. Try to have a physician review your application before submitting. Research is becoming more important so get involved in any research studies and the goal should be to get your name on a published manuscript. Prepare for the interview. Surprisingly, people do a lot of silly or inappropriate things during their interview that ultimately preclude their admission. Interviewing is not difficult; it is simply a matter of preparation.
6. Do you have any other advice for med. Students on preparing for COMLEX?
Study hard, study efficiently, and trust in your efforts. Every student sitting for the COMLEX is smart and competent. A lot of academic achievements have been reached before you ever even get to the COMLEX. The fact that you are sitting for the exam means that you are completely capable of scoring well. Let us do what we do and work to teach the specific skills needed for success on this exam, and trust that we have vested interest and concern in each student mastering the exam and scoring well.
A huge thank you goes out to Jeff Nazar for making the time to answer my questions and allow us to get to know him as well as his company. I personally use COMQUEST and I LOVE it! I find it very user friendly, I enjoy all of the features, and it completely simulates what the COMSAE and COMLEX exams are like (I took my first COMSAE back in January). The answers and explanations to questions are very detailed and I immediately know why I miss a question after doing so. The feedback is great and I’ve also been in contact with some of the members from the Comquest team and they are wonderful people that truly care about each individual that uses their product. I will be using this not only for step 1 coming up in June but also for steps 2 C.E. and step 3 as well as my shelf exams. I will actually be doing my 25 questions for the day after writing this J I hope you guys enjoyed the blog. Thanks for reading!