About Firecracker

Posted by Keith Frankel on Sep 23, 2016 4:52:00 PM
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When we reminded users about our Q-bank a couple weeks ago we discovered that some students didn't know we had a Q-bank. The platform has changed a lot in the past 12 months, so we put together this refresher about Firecracker.
  1. Firecracker is not just a flashcard app.

Many first year students ask us why they should buy Firecracker instead of one of many “other” flashcard apps. While we can understand the confusion (after all, Firecracker does believe in the power of active recall questions in ensuring long-term retention), we nevertheless view it akin to comparing apples and oranges. Firecracker contains a Q-Bank of thousands of board-style clinical vignettes, a dozen prebuilt practice exams,daily patient cases, readable summaries of all of the testable topic areas, a substantially more advanced algorithm, special modes for both High Yield-only studying and dedicated board prep period, integrated note taking capabilities, and automated remediation tasks to shore up any weak areas. That said, for those students who find success with straightforward flashcard apps, we recommend Anki as a great choice. But for students looking for a more comprehensive platform that can be used throughout medical school, Firecracker is a better choice. 

  1. Firecracker isn’t just for long-term board prep.

There is a longstanding perception that Firecracker is only valuable if you start it at least nine months out from your board exam. That just isn’t true, thanks in large part to Firecracker’s Dedicated Test Prep mode, a setting we added earlier this year that allows you to start using Firecracker for the final 4-8 weeks of studying leading up to your boards. DTP mode shifts the focus of your studying to answering test-style clinical vignettes (CVs). It starts by introducing short weekly diagnostic tests throughout your dedicated prep to accurately model your mastery across all testable subject areas, showing you at any point in time exactly how you compare to all of your peers in each subject. Equipped with this information, you then choose a single subject area you want to focus on each day, and we'll immediately create a task full of relevant test-style questions (with answer explanations) for you to work through. After, we automatically create a Refresh Task that helps you remediate any weak areas.

  1. Firecracker’s algorithm is much more advanced than just spaced repetition.

Most students know that Firecracker’s algorithm is “adaptive”, but they aren’t exactly sure what that means or how deep it goes. Firecracker certainly adapts to a student’s ongoing performance and course schedule by assigning different content at different times, specifically by continually prioritizing review of current class material and any weak areas. However, Firecracker also adapts the difficulty of the assigned content for each student depending on how well she or he has performed on the relevant material in the past. As students perform better in a specific area, Firecracker ramps up the complexity of the questions assigned that test that area. Likewise, if a student struggles with an area, Firecracker reduced the complexity of the assigned questions. In this way, not only does Firecracker ensure you see the right material at the right time, both for your classes and for long-term retention in preparation for your boards, but it also continually adjusts the difficulty of the assigned material in order to accurately model how you compare with your peers.

  1. Firecracker doesn’t need to be time intensive.

Some Firecracker students find the volume of work that Firecracker assigns to be a bit too time intensive. Often, this is a simple problem of spending far too much time on each question than we recommend. However, for those students who want to lessen the burden, Firecracker includes a High Yield only mode, allowing you to focus on a smaller subsection of the most important content, curated by our editorial team and assigned to you in smaller daily chunks. Firecracker High Yield contains about half of all of Firecracker’s topics and about 60% of all of the questions. Best yet, if at any point you want to switch back to focusing on all of Firecracker, you can; we’ll carry over your progress, and Firecracker will adjust its recommendations accordingly.

  1. Firecracker doesn’t have to be your only resource.

At Firecracker, we believe students should use whatever resources they find most valuable. Whether it’s UFAP or Sketchy, we are huge proponents of integrating all of these resources in Firecracker in order to best improve student outcomes. To that end, we actively work to cite all of our concepts to the most popular external resources, such as First Aid & Pathoma. Within our topic summaries and during your review sessions, you can see the exact pages of the most popular textbooks and study guides which cover the specific concepts you’re currently reviewing. Better yet, if there’s something more you’d like to add, you can use our robust note-taking experience to supplement our material in any way you’d like.

Topics: How to Use Firecracker, Firecracker algorithm, Q-bank, High Yield

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 chat@firecracker.me.

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