Firecracker's Mobile App Recommendation Engine

Posted by elliott617 on Nov 6, 2014 1:57:56 PM

Our recently updated mobile app (version 3.0 ) comes with a new recommendation engine along with a new design and many features. Some of you have already noticed that the questions you do on the mobile app don't necessarily correspond to questions on the web app. Here's why:

The new recommendation engine is different than the calendar based system, it gives every question you've seen a priority for review. Questions that you've scored poorly on, seen few times, and haven't seen in a while are prioritized while questions that you've scored well on, seen many times, and saw recently get pushed to the bottom. The new recommendation engine is still grounded in spaced repetition - we modeled the forgetting curve to increase the priority to review a question as the time since the question was last seen increases. Check out this post for specifics on the recommendation engine.

When you begin doing questions, Firecracker now shows you questions in the order of highest importance for you to review. When you navigate Firecracker's content and begin doing questions at the subject, sub-subject, or topic level your questions will still be in prioritized order. If you haven't done any questions in the specific subject, sub-subject, or topic you're at, then we show you new questions. You now also have the option of filtering questions at any level by your last score.

The new recommendation engine offers considerable benefits over a calendar based system. Instead of just assigning a specific date for every review, you now do questions in the order of relative importance. You can easily access subsets of questions in prioritized order (want to focus on anatomy right now? no problem). The new system is flexible if you need to take a few days off. It will also make sure you don't end up repeatedly reviewing the same question too many times.

More improvements are on the way too! We're working on pacing features to dynamically adjust the number of questions we recommend each day, 80 a day on the mobile app is temporary. You won't have to worry about being overburdened with questions anymore though. Soon, you'll be able to tell us when you have a test or when you'd like to master a certain set of topics by and we'll take care of prioritizing the relevant content as the date approaches (no more seeing important questions the day after a test!). This includes recommending questions and topics that you haven't seen yet.

We'd love to hear your feedback about how to improve the new priority based recommendation system. We are constantly striving to improve!

Data Engineer, Firecracker

Topics: Medical Education

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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