HealthJuly 21, 2017

How this DO student used Firecracker en route to board scores of 252 on Step 1 and 800 on COMLEX

Firecracker DO is built for osteopathic medical students who want to kill two birds with one stone and crush every major challenge in sight: COMLEX and USMLE, COMATs, classes, and clinical Clerkships.

We’ve recently rebuilt our osteopathy materials to address the most up to date COMLEX standards with comprehensive OMM content for the Shelf, and tons of newly published questions. More DO students than ever before are now taking USMLE as well, and balancing both board exams is easier than ever in Firecracker. Matthew, a third-year at PCOM, describes here how he was able to leverage the Firecracker DO platform in preparation for some stupendous success:

USMLE score explanation

COMLEX Level 1 score report

“I attend Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), and I am currently a third year student in a dual degree program. I took Step 1 on May 31 and COMLEX Level 1 on June 8 (a period between exams that was probably a little longer than necessary). I first started using Firecracker during the final term of my first year, which was the time when we began covering organ systems. I wanted to find an all-in-one application to manage and test my understanding of the material since resource-overload is very common with boards preparation. I’m not a student that had a specific goal in terms of scores or specialty, so I just wanted to find something that I enjoy using and allows me to be as efficient as possible. After reading through a few blog posts of ‘How This Firecracker Scored a [insert ridiculously high score here] on USMLE Step 1’, I figured it was worth it to try it out for a month. I immediately realized that Firecracker had everything I wanted in a resource for both my preclinical courses as well as boards preparation.

I used Firecracker extensively during my preclinical courses by flagging topics as they arose and sprinkling in old material. I could do this by flagging the topics being covered in my courses as ‘Urgent’, and flagging a few old topics each day as ‘Current’. Also, I further annotated Firecracker during my courses by adding notes, diagrams, images, and videos of important topics or ones in which I struggled (something I HIGHLY recommend doing). By the end of this process, I created my own personal version of Firecracker with all topics set to ‘Current’. This marked the beginning of my dedicated study period.

My dedicated study schedule was relatively simple. It consisted of completing at least 2 question blocks each day (from UWorld, Kaplan, and Firecracker’s Qbank), and doing as many flashcards as possible. I would go through flashcards at a rate of about 3-5 per minute, which allowed me to go through many cards each day (more than I care to admit). I also placed a great deal of faith in Firecracker’s algorithm for card selection, and that really guided what I was going to be studying each day. I ended up using Firecracker as a substitute for First Aid and Pathoma, since I didn’t enjoy reading directly from either resource (the Pathoma videos are pure gold however).

For new users of Firecracker, I have some tidbits of wisdom for you (and as with everything in life, take it with a grain of salt). The first is to trust the process of Firecracker. You may first feel like it takes a lifetime to get through a deck of 50 cards, but you will become more efficient over time. Another piece of advice I have is to begin using the Qbank within Firecracker as soon as you purchase a subscription. While Firecracker is predominately seen as a flashcard application, many people forget that it also comes with a free Qbank and practice tests. As a side note, I found many of the questions to be even more difficult than the gold standard: UWorld. My last piece of advice is that it is never too late to start! While I used Firecracker throughout second year, there are many stories of individuals who discovered it much later and still made huge improvements using it. Finally, to my DO peeps: definitely use the OMM-specific portions of Firecracker during your study of COMLEX! I used these flashcards instead of just reading the green book (Savarese), and I think that was the best decision I made for COMLEX.”

This year’s score reports are coming in, and Firecracker members are scoring even higher than our previous years’ results on their major exams. We now also offer a full COMLEX Level 2 program with more all-original clinical case questions. Check out the free trial if you haven’t done so already, and don’t be shy to let the Firecracker team know if you have any questions whatsoever at [email protected]!


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