The following is a guest-authored blog post from John, a second-year medical student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, one of Firecracker's more than twenty official partner institutions:
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:
Every medical student learns in a unique way, and you may not yet know which study strategies will work best for you. We've found some super-consistent trends that correlate with success; for example, individuals who do more questions for practice acheive the best results on their board exams. Firecracker's comprehensive content and built-in spaced repetition will ensure that you have all of the knowledge you need to succeed not only in medical school and on your major exams, but also in your future as a physician. Here are some detailed tips from a Firecracker member who slayed Step 1 this year:
For years, Firecracker has proven extremely effective as a resource for preclinical classes and USMLE Step 1 preparation. Thousands of third-year medical students are now also using Firecracker alongside their clinical rotations, and to prepare for major exams including USMLE Step 2 CK, Shelfs, COMLEX Level 2, and COMATs. Suat, a fourth-year medical student who picked up Firecracker as a primary resource during clerkships, graciously shares some wise words of experience here:
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.
The author of this blog post is a medical student at UC-San Diego who developed a steady study routine, and stuck with it en route to a stupendous Step 1 score. While Firecracker members report phenomenal board scores all the time, one of the greatest benefits of our platform is the fact that it will help you save time and energy. In her own words, this student eloquently describes her experience of using Firecracker to parallel medical school coursework and simultaneously prepare for Step 1 here:
Firecracker is a platform to help medical students keep up with classwork and excel on boards - it's free to try for 7 days, you can sign up here.
Historically, many of Firecracker's highest-performing members have used our platform for the long-term, staring in their first year of medical school. Our product is designed to help you kill two birds with one stone, simultaneously mastering the concepts and facts you need to know for your classes, as well as what you'll ultimately be tested on for your board licensing exams. First-year medical students ask us all the time when they should get crackin for best results, so I've written up this brief checklist for incoming M1 students:
"How should I use Firecracker over the summer?"
It's a question we've started receiving quite a bit. Over time, we’ve compiled dozens of in-depth study plans, tens of thousands of verified score reports, and a few hundred million questions completed to provide accurate recommendations for best practices. Still, some of the most illustrative insights into effective study strategies are best directly provided by our valued users. Below are some personal experiences that some of the most successful Firecracker members have shared regarding how to use Firecracker over the summer:
For years, Firecracker was designed primarily for long-term board prep, allowing you to score a standard deviation higher than your peers given consistent usage over time. Then in August, we released a new version of Firecracker featuring an updated marking system (Urgent, Current, and Past). This evolved Firecracker from just a long-term board prep tool into a course companion, as well, making it possible to simultaneously prepare for and prioritize your current course or clerkship material while still keeping past material fresh in your mind.
It's a busy time here at Firecracker. Our product team is hard at work building new features for use during dedicated test prep, and our content team is focused on creating as many CVs and board-style practice exams as possible. But we're not just hiding in the office. We're also getting involved in as many community engagement activities as possible. In particular, we're making Study Jams a reality on the international stage. With the help of some of our most engaged medical students, these events combine free food and drinks with some of Firecracker's best integrative content in a peer-led environment.