How this Firecracker scored a 266 on USMLE Step 1

Posted by Yonas Dinkneh on Sep 7, 2017 4:26:51 PM
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Joseph is a student at the University of Arizona-Tucson College of Medicine in the Class of 2018 who was interested in optimizing study efficiency from the beginning of medical school. He began using Firecracker to review basic sciences material during his first year and increased his Firecracker use significantly as he entered his second year in preparation for his Step 1 board exam. Joseph used Firecracker to supplement his coursework and to ensure that he was learning all of the materials necessary for the Step 1, including topics he felt were lacking in some of his classes. He found that Firecracker offered substantial content for the most high yield topics tested on the Step 1, but also improved knowledge of the less high yield topics still required to score very well on the exam. Thanks to his determined effort, belief in the efficacy of spaced repetition (one of Firecracker's core learning principles) and the comprehensive content offered on Firecracker, Joseph was able to achieve a stellar score on his Step 1. We checked in with him to learn a bit about how he utilized Firecracker during his Step 1 preparation process. Here is some of what we learned:

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"After winter break [during M2 year], I read 2+ pages of First Aid a day and flagged the associated Firecracker topics. I did a minimum of 150 questions a day, but usually more, during the semester. I did 700-1000 questions a day during my dedicated study time. I flagged >95% of the topics I would eventually review by the first week of dedicated review.

Repetition was the key for me. I made Anki cards during the school year for tests, but knew they were not quite comprehensive and were too detailed. Firecracker allowed for rapid review of many topics. I mostly reviewed based on Firecracker’s algorithm, rather than by topic. I believe the key for my success on Step 1 was starting to review early and staying consistent. I did not miss a single day through the semester or dedicated study period, aside from a lazy day the day before my test. I had enough time to get all of the major topics into accessible memory by the day of the test."

Joseph's board exam success is a testament to the power of Firecracker's proven track record of enhancing long-term retention of concepts when adhering to our Daily Review algorithm. Our spaced-repetition engine provides users with a daily set of questions that are based on each user's specific progress and performance over time and even prioritizes questions based on one's risk of forgetting it. If you'd like some guidance in creating a study plan that fits your lifestyle (or with questions about pretty much anything), shoot us a message at to get in touch with the experts on our team.


Topics: Big Data, Learning & Memory Science, USMLE Step 1, Exams

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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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