How This Firecracker Scored a 254 on USMLE Step 1

Posted by David Guertin on Oct 6, 2014 12:45:17 PM
Many of the most successful medical students report using three or more resources alongside their textbooks to ace both their coursework and their standardized exams. While we do highly recommend attending lectures, many students report that Firecracker serves as a comprehensive replacement for the material covered in their lectures. Evan, a third-year medical student at Emory, shares his strategies for integrating Firecracker into med school here:

"I started using Firecracker a few months into my M1 year. A classmate of mine pointed it out to me and I liked the idea of having an online resource that I could work with and shape to my learning style. I used Firecracker in conjunction with First Aid (FA) and question banks. My goal was a Step 1 score that would allow me the option to match into any specialty.

I used Firecracker as my main study method for most of my pre-clinical time. I actually went to class rarely because I found that solo studying was much more efficient than listening to lectures from physicians who had never received any training on how to give a good lecture - I spent my time with Firecracker and FA. I annotated interesting points from Firecracker into FA because I liked the material of Firecracker but liked to also have it in physical and abbreviated form. By studying just from Firecracker and FA I was able to score well above my class average on my basic science and organ systems courses, even without going to class or looking at lecture materials. I believe this was a strong strategy because the material of Firecracker is focused and high-yield, while lecture material is generally pretty hit-or-miss. I also used it up until a few weeks before my Step 1 prep, after which I switched to question banks full-time.

The strength of Firecracker for me was the adaptive repetition that allowed me to have material stick. I was able to apply this memorized material to questions and vignettes and it earned me a strong Step 1 score. I would advise new users (as I advise my classmates) to make Firecracker their primary study tool, to supplement with FA, and to finish off Step 1 studying with question banks."

Topics: Medical Education

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