American Osteopathic Association

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Researchers Find Medical School Admissions Criteria Doesn’t Predict Success for Osteopathic Physicians

Study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association Shows MCAT Scores and GPAs Have Little Relationship to Performance on Final Licensing Tests

CHICAGO—February 3, 2015—A study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) found that admissions criteria for osteopathic medical schools, including MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs, are not indicative of future performance on exams required to practice osteopathic medicine.

Researchers from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine compared the COMLEX-USA Level 3 scores of 552 graduates to their MCAT scores, undergraduate GPAs, medical school GPAs and earlier scores on licensing exams. The COMLEX-USA Level 3 is taken by resident physicians who have graduated from an osteopathic medical school.

“The study showed that the present information used to select students is not predictive of who will ultimately be successful in passing the third part of their licensing exam. Graduates with lower MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs may overcome their early disadvantage,” said Craig S. Boisvert, DO, Dean of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, West Virginia, and one of the study’s authors. 

“Better indicators are needed to predict which students will have the most success as future osteopathic physicians,” Dr. Boisvert added.

The research team found performance on the COMLEX-USA Level 3, the final exam to qualify for a license to practice osteopathic medicine, was tied to scores on Level 1, taken during the second year of medical school, and Level 2, which is administered during the third or fourth year of med school. Little correlation was found to admissions criteria. Grade point averages during the second year of medical school did show a relationship to licensing test scores and “seem to be an appropriate consideration in the selection of residents…,” the authors wrote.

Further, no significant differences were found between the final test scores and gender, curriculum track, graduating class or residency specialty. More than one in four medical students are currently enrolled in an osteopathic medical school, which awards the DO degree rather than the MD degree.

The full study is accessible until April 1, 2015.

About The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) is the official scientific publication of the American Osteopathic Association. Edited by Robert Orenstein, DO, it is the premier scholarly peer-reviewed publication of the osteopathic medical profession. The JAOA’s mission is to advance medicine through the publication of peer-reviewed osteopathic research.


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