COMT Exam: How I Prepared

dream-big-up
dream-big-up

More than twenty years ago; fresh in the field, I confided to a COMT that one day I, too wanted to be a COMT.  She scoffed and said "You can't possibly have enough knowledge to pass the exam unless you work in a large University Clinical setting or go to a formal COMT level training program."  I was bummed but I never let go of my dream.  In 2013, I became a COMT and proved her wrong. The day I took and passed my COMT Skills exam was one of the happiest days of my life.  Here are before and after pictures of that day...

Sharon
Sharon
Sharon1
Sharon1

I am here to tell you that YOU CAN become a COMT if you work hard enough and want it bad enough. Here's how I did it:  

  1.  I purchased or borrowed every book I could on JCAHPO's recommended reading list and read them each multiple times.   I studied for two full years for the exam. Six months before the exam I gave up all recreational reading material and TV, signed off of Words with Friends and Facebook and spent all of my spare time studying. I even kept a book in my car so if I found myself stuck in traffic I could use the time to read.  
  2. I went to JCAHPO's ACE meeting (the annual CE meeting held in conjunction with the AAO meeting) and took only Master's Level classes concentrating on subject which I felt were my weakest. If you get an opportunity to attend, I highly recommend the course on Clinical Mathematics by Kenneth Woodward, COMT. 
  3. I attended the COMT Review course at the ACE meeting but did not find it helpful. It is a REVIEW course. A Review course is a brief overview of the topics on which you will be tested. It doesn't actually give you the information in the content areas you need to know.  In contrast, a PREP course is a long, comprehensive course and actually gives you all the information you need to know to pass the test.
  4. Every spare minute I studied.I DID find JCAHPO's COMT Skills Review Course very helpful.  They had a team of COMT's who helped the group of COMT hopefuls as we went through various skills stations. They had stations on FA's, Motility, Lensometry and more.  The instructors were wonderful in explaining the skills and the pathology we were looking for. It was immensely helpful!
  5.  I found two mentors, Jessica Barr, COMT from PA and Sergina Flaherty, COMT from Texas who were helpful in answering questions I had about various pathologies and skills.
  6. I purchased several JCAHPO's Learning Systems modules and other CE courses on www.EyeCareCE.org. These complemented the Masters Level courses I had taken at  the ACE meeting. I especially found the motility courses helpful. 
  7. I wrote all the optics formulas I needed to know for the exam in a notebook and studied that the morning of my exam so it would be fresh in my head.

I scheduled my written exam for a Wednesday afternoon.  My plan was to spend Monday and Tuesday cramming and Wednesday morning studying my optics formulas.   On Monday morning I sat down to read and thought "If I put one more thing in my head something else is going to fall out!"  My brain was saturated.  I was also a growing more and more anxious.  That was when I decided to close the books. Instead of studying, I spent that Monday and Tuesday nurturing myself. I got a pedi and mani, went to a movie, watched dumb TV and got lots of rest. The helped my anxiety level be manageable.  On Wednesday morning, I went to the test site four hours early, found a nearby coffee shop with wifi and studied my formulas.  I took my exam and finished in just 1 1/2 hours. I had aced the test!    YOU can do it too!!!