Introducing Firecracker's Institutional Program

Posted by Phil Harrell on Jun 9, 2015 7:39:00 PM
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As you know, the number of students entering medical school has increased 23.4% since 2002. We have not seen corresponding growth in the number of residencies. Of course we need the federal government to lift the current cap on new doctor training. But in the meantime we are faced with increased competition: too few residencies for the number of new doctors graduating each year. This condition makes student performance on the board exams - the Step 1 and Step CK as well as the COMLEX 1 and 2 - extremely important.

To help medical school professors and administrators get a handle on student performance, and preparedness, Firecracker is launching a new product designed to improve test scores and outcomes for their students. Right now, one in five medical students use Firecracker to prepare for their classes and their board exams. They are using us to review material, quiz themselves, and take practice exams in the run up to their class tests and their board exams. And we have data that shows that the students who are using us this way, regularly, are lifting their test scores considerably.

Firecracker has unique content, covering 3,500 topics, created by our sixty editors that covers all the topics students need to master in medical school and to pass their Step and COMLEX exams. Firecracker’s algorithm uses spaced repetition to regularly test and track students so they work their way towards concept master. This content, and usage data together form the backbone of our new product for medical schools.


Firecracker is proven to help lift student scores on the USMLE Step 1. Members who have used Firecracker to prepare for their Step 1 exams have shared their Step 1 scores with us. Using their score data, and our data on their study time and usage, we have determined that students who use our software consistently for nine months scored fourteen points higher on the Step 1 than their counterparts who did not use Firecracker. These results persisted even when we controlled for time spent studying. You can download and read our full analysis here.

Students are using Firecracker, and they’re improving their Step scores and likelihood of getting into the residency of their choice. Here’s how institutional members of Firecracker can leverage that:

Data: Students use Firecracker to review topics, then to quiz and score themselves on their top-recall. Based on this, we have insights into where students have good recall and command of topics, and where they need more study or more assistance. Administrators have access to a school-dashboard that shows them the progress of each of their students, and their command of all topics.

Benchmarking and Intervention: Because one in five medical students use Firecracker, we can tell how you’re students are performing relative to all other medical students in the United States. This is good for individual student insights, determining when a student is struggling and needs assistance, but it’s also useful at the course and program level, so you can see in aggregate how your students (by class, by course) are doing. It’s a way to tell which topics or courses may need attention and adjustment, so that you’re meeting your students  needs as they prepare for clerkships, and boards.

Content, Curriculum, and Testing: Institutional members of Firecracker have access to our content - that’s 3,500 topic summaries, 30,000 review questions, and 2000 USMLE and COMLEX style questions. We work with schools in two ways: we can map our questions to your curriculum so you have custom tests that you can administer and score online, or we can give you access to create your own tests. The benefit is that your professors don’t have to spend time on question or test creation, they can easily track student performance, and we can feed all this data back into our benchmarking system.

This is a just brief overview of what our new program for medical schools can do. We can provide you with a preview of our data on your students - samples of the type of benchmarking reports that your school can receive. Email me at and I’ll send you a report, and walk you through your data.


Topics: Firecracker for Schools

Welcome to Firecracker

Firecracker is an adaptive learning platform that uses amazing content coupled with spaced repetition to help medical students crush their exams. We offer programs for both individual students, and entire medical schools. If you'd like to learn more contact us at

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