How this medical student used Firecracker to ace both USMLE and COMLEX

Posted by David Guertin on Apr 30, 2015 9:22:14 PM

Jared, a third-year osteopathic medical student at Touro COM in New York, used Firecracker effectively on an accelerated schedule while simultaneously preparing for USMLE and COMLEX. The vast majority of osteopathic medical students must now take both exams before graduating. While our data indicates the best performing students start using this software early, Jared has proven that condensing Firecracker’s material into a shorter period of time can yield fantastic results as well! If you’re considering using Firecracker during crunch time leading up to your exam date(s), then why not take a page out of a student's book who already crushed USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX Level 1? Jared shares how he geared up to ace his major exams below:Jared USMLE 246

Jared COMLEX 644

“I started using Firecracker around Christmas during my second year. I was looking for a structured study program with daily goals that I could meet as though it were a game. Firecracker became a big hit at my school and I would knock out questions before lectures, between lectures, after lectures, between reviewing question sets on UWorld and COMBank, etc. My goal was to flag every topic and complete the program while using it to boost my recall memory and knowledge base to go along with the test-taking strategies that I was already using.

As I prepared for USMLE/COMLEX 1, I flagged 10 topics per day and answered as many questions as were scheduled each day. I flagged topics pertaining to the lectures for my organ systems-type modules first and then added basic sciences and other old material when I finished what I needed for the upcoming exams.

I did COMBank questions in blocks of 50 random, unused questions once I became comfortable with the amount of Firecracker topics I had covered. On days when I did not have classes, I would do 2-3 blocks of questions, and spend the day reviewing the tests, answering Firecracker questions and flagging topics based on my Q-bank review. When I finished COMBank, I started UWorld and did most of it in one month on days when I wasn't doing practice tests.

In third year, Shelf Exams are very boards-like, so I didn't change my strategy. I have been doing Step 2 material on Firecracker and it has made Shelf exams more of an afterthought with my rotations. I do, however, have a large knowledge base filled with high-yield information and "gunner-facts" that keep me in good standing with my attendings. Getting put on the spot isn't a problem and I find that fun low-yield points that Firecracker throws in are good conversation starters that change the course of pimping sessions.

Firecracker has kept me focused and on-schedule. It helps me wake up in the morning and stay engaged on breaks throughout the day. I use it as a reference sometimes when I just need quick facts or simple explanations. I would advise a new user to start flagging topics that are relevant to their current module / class / rotation and decide how many topics per day to flag in order to finish the program with at least a few weeks left to go until boards. Throw in some video lectures in subjects that aren't clear and add notes to your Firecracker topics so you won't forget the extra details that jog your memory. You're ultimately going to have a ton of knowledge at your disposal, so quick recall is important when approaching boards questions that require you to sift through everything you've learned. That's why I love Firecracker.”

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There you have it: using Firecracker will not only give you all of the facts and concepts you’ll need for USMLE, COMLEX, and Shelf Exams, it will also arm you with the critical knowledge necessary to excel during pimping sessions. If you’re an osteopathic medical student, you can activate Firecracker’s Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine material via the doctor icon in the upper-right, Account & Settings, and the Settings tab. For those of you who are about to start the summer leading up to your second year, check out our M1 Summer Catch-Up Plan! We would love to hear your success stories as well. In fact, we'll give you two months free if you contribute a copy of your verified score report to for our research. Unleash the cracken!


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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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