HealthNovember 08, 2014

How this crunch-time Firecracker scored a 274 on USMLE Step 1

James is a third-year medical student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. This year, Firecracker members have achieved better than ever before on the USMLE. Data shows that long-term use of this program leads to the highest exam scores in general, but one exceptional student condensed the entirety of Firecracker’s medical school content into his six-week dedicated study time. Don’t take our word for it; here are his own words about his experience with Firecracker:

“I used it extensively for STEP 1 prep. I found that for me learning directly from Firecracker was really difficult if it was my first time with the material. If I read beforehand or did questions first and then I used Firecracker to supplement the gaps that weren’t covered and to make sure that I didn’t forget concepts, it was much easier to get a higher mastery score. I know a lot of previous Firecracker users used it extensively throughout first and second year but I really only used it during my dedicated STEP prep. I would wake up in the morning and do 3 UWorld 46 question sets, and then in the afternoon I would flag about 50 [Firecracker] topics. I didn’t do any on the weekend so it took me about a month to flag 100%. The reason I chose to do this was for the spaced repetition and the fact that Firecracker along with the major qbanks cover almost everything that you are going to see on the exam.

Since I had 6 weeks of dedicated study, I was worried that I would forget the things I studied at the beginning by the end of my prep. Where Firecracker really shines for me is with all the tiny details you need to push past the 250 mark and get into the 260s and 270s. It is really the only place that covers anatomy and biochemistry well. It was also extremely helpful in making sure my weaknesses became strengths. When I started my STEP prep I felt really uncomfortable with renal pathology, but after going through the Firecracker topics I gained a much better understanding that I didn’t get from lectures, pathoma, goljan, or questions. Another topic that it really helped me with was dermatology. My school did a pretty good job of giving me plenty of pictures to look at but I didn’t have a nice framework to put it all in. Firecracker really helped with that and made it much easier for me to remember. Microbiology, especially the virus and parasite topics were so helpful. I would highly recommend looking at these because FA does not do these topics justice in terms of what you need to know for STEP.

Firecracker helped me extensively during my final prep for my exam. Using it gave me the peace of mind knowing that even if I gave something a 5, I would still see the question again a couple of times before my exam and be able to really get it down. It made sure that what I reviewed during the first week stayed with me during my last week and exam prep. I felt that going through Firecracker and flagging every topic would be a great review of my first and second year. I am not one for doing a course like DIT because it goes at their pace and not my own. With Firecracker I got to see everything from anatomy to pathology and pharmacology and I was able to go as fast or as slow as I needed for me. I’m not saying these other programs don’t work because they definitely do for some people but if you are trying to go for a top score then you already know most of what DIT will cover because it is designed to help people just pass STEP. Firecracker is designed to help students get the highest possible scores and it shows in the thoroughness of the content they have.”

There you have it, a unique approach to tackling all of Firecracker’s USMLE Step 1 concepts in a condensed timeframe. This software is meant to serve you with the flexibility to suit your needs in any situation, and James exemplified this fact by going above and beyond with Firecracker during dedicated study. We are here to help you achieve your goals—how you go about accomplishing them is up to you!


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