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Board Examinations

Board exams must be passed in order to become a licensed physician. There are three sets of board exams that can potentially be taken. Below, you will find an overview that gives an idea of when each exam is taken in the course of your career.

American Board Exams

Board exams are required to become a licensed physician. The American Osteopathic Association has its own set of board exams - the COMLEX exams. There are 3 COMLEX exams: Level 1, 2, and 3. COMLEX exams are required by osteopathic medical schools for graduation.

All medical students attending American medical schools (MD or DO) must go through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) match process to secure a residency position. To be eligible for some ACGME residencies, you may be required to take USMLE Step 1, 2, and 3. However, most ACGME residencies will accept COMLEX scores in lieu of USMLE. You must research each program you are interested in for their specific requirements. COMSA highly recommends that Canadian DO students take USMLE Step 1 and 2 to be as competitive as possible.

Provincial policies, as well as the steps being taken by the COA and COMSA to advocate for change, can be found in the Legislation & Advocacy page.

Canadian Board Exams

The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) has its own exams, which must be successfully passed in order to enroll in a Canadian residency program through the Canadian Residency Matching System (CaRMS). If you plan to apply for a Canadian residency via CaRMS, you must take the MCCQE Part 1 examination (multiple choice knowledge-based test) and pass the NAC-OSCE (clinical examination). There are 5 provinces that recognize US DO graduates for the purpose of CaRMS. However, matching in Canada outside of Family Medicine is still extremely competitive due to the small number of positions. For this reason, it is recommended to complete an ACGME residency in the event you fail to match into a Canadian residency. 


Preparing for and taking the board exams is a very expensive and

time-consuming process. Continue on to learn about the USMLE,

COMLEX, and MCC examinations. To the right is a summary of the

timeline for taking your licensing examinations. For details regarding a

specific exam, please click the following:

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