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:
Although Firecracker is a very comprehensive resource offering thousands of all-original board-style practice clinical vignettes, tens of thousands of direct recall questions and in-depth topics with citations for everything you need to know, most students actually report saving time when they use Firecracker for their studies. We've optimized our mobile app for speed, and recently implemented some new features on the web, including the ever-popular Shot Clock, to help you crush questions quickly. Here, we'll break down best practices for studying efficiently with Firecracker, which is available at an excellent sale price this month:
Lee is a medical student at Florida State University in the class of 2019 who was interested in optimizing study efficiency from the beginning of medical school. To stay on top of coursework through his preclinical years, Lee found Firecracker's content, questions, and related context links to be helpful in pushing him towards relevant materials for learning. Balancing coursework and developing a consistent routine of reviewing content from day one of medical school all the way through dedicated board prep, Lee leveraged Firecracker's spaced repetition-rooted recommendations and USMLE-style practice case questions en route to a stellar Step 1 score:
Earlier this year, we launched a special mode in Firecracker – Dedicated Test Prep Mode – which allows students to continue – or even start – using Firecracker during those last few weeks leading up to their boards (i.e. right before and during your dedicated prep). Historically, students stopped using Firecracker during this period for the industry standard UFAP (U-World, First Aid, Pathoma). And while our goal was not necessarily to replace any or all of UFAP, we did want to provide students with the option to use features which we believed were more effective and couldn’t be found anywhere else, either independently or alongside other resources.
In August 2014 and again in October 2015 we surveyed medical students - Firecrackers and non-Firecrackers - about their test performance and scores. Through this initiative, we gathered USMLE Step 1 scores (actual score reports) from 1,115 students and COMLEX scores from 180 students. We’ve used this data to update our 2014 analysis on the efficacy of Firecracker for boosting exam scores. These are the results - including (for the first time!) results on Firecracker usage and COMLEX outcomes.