How this Firecracker scored a 257 on USMLE Step 1

Posted by David Guertin on Feb 2, 2015 12:31:37 PM

One in four medical students in the United States currently uses Firecracker, with new members joining every day. Thousands of Firecracker members also come from different backgrounds, including international medical graduates, Australian and Caribbean medical students. Students who attend medical school outside the United States have even more reason to use reliable resources like Firecracker, as their Step 1 scores carry increased weight when it comes time to match into their preferred specialties. This third-year medical student at Ross University in the Caribbean used Firecracker consistently throughout medical school, and ultimately annihilated Step 1 of the USMLE:Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 4.20.56 PM

“My friends and I began using Firecracker in 2nd semester (of first year). This was likely because that was the earliest we learned about it as a tool for aiding in retention and review. We picked it up in an ongoing effort to assimilate knowledge via as many modalities as possible. Our goals were to score near the 260 mark on Step 1 and to continue to get A’s on our exams at our medical school. Firecracker was also a resource I used to stay fresh on previous semester knowledge which was necessary as I was a tutor for every semester in basic medical sciences and taught all subjects at all levels.

For basic sciences we would try to crack out 100 or so cards a day. When we were preparing for exams we might do more. We also had Friday night study group and on these nights we would routinely go through 40-100. Our basic medical sciences were split up into organ systems so we would select those organ systems appropriate to the block we were studying in school and run through those slides. Additionally, because the semesters following us ran in the same sort of blocks, I would add in their topics to stay fresh for my tutoring sessions with them. I treated my entire time in basic medical sciences as Step 1 prep. We did continue to run through some Firecracker during the month or so leading up to the exam after our 4th semester had ended.

Firecracker was an immense help and a fantastic resource. It would reinforce information we were receiving in the classroom and would point us to information not taught to help us increase our knowledge base further. From my experience, the best use for Firecracker is to start early, select the blocks that are appropriate to the next exam’s material, run through the topics daily to avoid getting behind, and then run through it all again making sure to indicate how well the topic was known. Being honest with yourself will help make this tool useful but it requires some dedication to stay with a routine. Try using the program with at least one other friend so they can help keep you on task.”

Finding a study buddy at your school should be easy, and you can always create a free 30-day trial if you aren’t yet a Firecracker member. Firecracker is now available offline via our dedicated mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, so it’s easier than ever to get crackin. Any questions for us? Drop us an email at - we’re here to help!

Topics: Medical Education

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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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