Why Firecracker Works, Part 2: Train your Brain to Remember Anything

Posted by chat@firecracker.me on May 2, 2013 4:41:09 PM

Our first post in this series showed the distribution of self-reported recall scores for the first quiz. A lot of folks were surprised -- immediately forgetting 32% of what you just studied was a lot higher than many of you expected. This blog post shows how Firecracker solves the forgetting problem for you.

Let's look at how the percent Mastery changes on subsequent reviews for users who follow the Firecracker algorithm. We define Mastery as a score of 4 or 5. Here's the chart:


A couple of interesting things really pop out here. The first is that the jump in Mastery between the 1st and 2nd reviews is pretty large -- we see an 11% gain (44% to 53%). But for the next 3 reviews, the improvement isn't nearly as large -- just 9.1% gain over 3 reviews. After that though, the gain between the 4th and 5th review is a whopping 14.7%.

These data fit with our own experiences using Firecracker. In general, the stuff that we struggled to learn often took 4 or 5 reviews to have it "click". An example would be the 5-year survival rate for a 3.9mm thick melanoma (60-75% in case you were wondering). The first few times we scored 1s and 2s, but then somewhere between review #5 and 7 we would suddenly remember it. It's a great feeling, that Eureka moment!

The take-home: Firecracker works and you get the biggest benefit after you review something 4 or 5 times. So the next time you answer a review question on Firecracker, remember that you're increasing your chances of mastering the material by 5-15% (if you haven't mastered it already)!

And it makes sense, or at least it does to the tens-of-thousands who have used Firecracker over the years. Mastery is achieved through steady, consistent repetition at the right intervals. With pre-Firecracker study methods, it's impossible to achieve this level of learning efficiency. In our next post, we'll cover how we developed our algorithms.

If you’re new to Firecracker, sign up today and get 1 month FREE on us! Pre-meds who want to study like the top med students (and crush the MCAT), click here. Med students and International Medical Grads, click here.

As always, let us know what you think and how we can improve!

- Firecracker

Topics: Learning & Memory Science, Spaced Learning

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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