How this Firecracker scored a 264 on USMLE Step 1

Posted by David Guertin on Sep 15, 2014 9:38:42 AM

Our data shows comprehensive topic exploration and long-term usage of Firecracker yield the best results on standardized exams including the USMLE, MCAT and COMLEX.

Trent is a seasoned Firecracker member and a third-year medical student at the University of Arizona. We asked him to write a summary of his experiences with Firecracker, and he delivered:

"I began using Firecracker after my first semester of medical school when it was originally called Gunner Training. I saw one of my classmates using it, and I was immediately drawn to the idea of spaced repetition for learning medical school material. Within my blocks, I realized I was quick to understand, but quick to forget. I needed a program that would help me both learn material and retain it. Even though I finished learning skin and neurology 1.5 years before I took Step 1, I still had to know it as well as I did back then for the test. I didn't want to have to work hard again to relearn material that I had already painstakingly learned for the block exam.

My goal with Firecracker was to retain information I had already learned for the long term, both for Step 1 and block exams. I used other resources like my medical school's lecture notes, Pathoma, and Step 1 Secrets (check this underrated book out!) to learn and understand the material, while Firecracker reinforced the material through practicing with its many flashcard questions. I figured if I saw a topic or a certain fact a couple times per month, I would have a much better chance of remembering it for Step 1, along with my career in medicine.

I found the summer between my first and second year of medical school to be a great time to add all the topics I had learned during my first year. I was able to 'study' the flashcards and have them put on my 'review' schedule. I put myself in a position to then flag topics as I went through my second year of organ systems based blocks. I usually was able to flag the topic within 1 - 2 weeks of learning it in class on Firecracker. I would recommend to new users to use Firecracker consistently, at least 4 - 5 times per week. The reschedule feature is helpful since block exams, clinical exams, or the rare awesome nights out happen in medical school, so you don't have to be a perfect user. Add topics at a comfortable pace, and consider starting to add topics around 1 year before taking Step 1. The beastly power of Firecracker is unleashed when you use it consistently. It takes less effort to remember topics if you practice with them consistently rather than taking the time to relearn it one year later for boards. Now that Step 2 content is done being updated, I plan on beginning my Step 2 study soon with Firecracker along with my clinical rotations. The practice flashcards will help me both study for my shelf exams as well as help me retain information for Step 2. Give Firecracker a shot. It's the reason that I scored in the 260s."

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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