Firecracker Question Design, Development, and Data (part 1)

Posted by Nate Green on Mar 3, 2017 5:32:00 PM

If you’ve ever wondered, there’s a lot that goes on behind making a Firecracker question. Here’s a glance into some of the details that go unnoticed. You’ll see how serious (and picky) we are with the process. Below is the first part of a three-part blog series on Firecracker question development.

Design - Phase I

The design phase is a critical part of engineering effective questions. Before we ever author a question, the question-in-embryo goes through a number of design stages. First, we align the idea with our board coverage map (which aligns to the official USMLE outline and other sources). This ensures that we have proper domain and depth coverage. Second, we create a detailed blueprint for each question. The blueprint manages the goals and specifications for each question in preparation for authoring. A single blueprint can take an hour or more to create. But despite the time and work, there are significant advantages to using our question blueprints:

  • We can create ideal associations among answer choices, vignette components, and overarching concepts that normally might not be obvious when writing a question.
  • Question blueprints allow for transparent review of question elements by multiple editors before the question is ever authored.
  • We can design a question that will precisely fit assessment goals.
  • Because each question is built from specific sets of blueprint elements, Firecracker can more accurately recommend questions according to individual student strengths and weaknesses.

Welcome to Firecracker

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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