HealthJanuary 18, 2018

How this Firecracker scored 255 on USMLE Step 1 and 734 on COMLEX Level 1

Dallin, a third-year medical student at Des Moines University, used Firecracker throughout year two of medical school to accomplish a few goals simultaneously; retaining information learned in class, preparing for USMLE, and shoring up osteopathic manipulative medicine knowledge that is emphasized on COMLEX. The Firecracker DO program includes comprehensive content and practice questions for every concept and fact that is fair game to be tested on both COMLEX and USMLE combined.

The content is all originally authored, and indexed neatly to leave no doubt which materials are relevant for which exam(s) and classes/Clerkships. Dallin accounts how supplementing coursework with Firecracker, Uworld, and Combank was the perfect recipe for two tremendous board scores in one week:

“Started using Firecracker in August 2016 to start board study concurrently with fall classes of my second year. The school provided subscriptions to the entire class. My goals with Firecracker where to use it as a daily supplement to my everyday class and board studying; therefore my goals were to do the daily questions 5 out of 7 days per week through the fall semester. In the spring I increased it to 6 out of 7 days per week. It worked out better for me to have my current topics be one week behind my class schedule. That way I learned the material first through my professors, then picked up extra pieces and reviewed through Firecracker. My second year was straight organ system classes, so I caught up the basic science classes by marking topics current that were relevant to class material. Towards the end of my studying in the spring the vast majority of my new cards were from the basic science classes. I had access to the Firecracker COMLEX material as well as the USMLE material. I focused mostly on the USMLE material since the only COMLEX material that wasn’t covered in it was OMM. My school did an excellent job of teaching and reviewing OMM so I never did commit any time to studying it for the boards.

In the spring semester I started heavy board study. I did the daily Firecracker questions to start my day then went straight to answering questions in Uworld. I would use first aid, and Firecracker to supplement material and answers in Uworld. I had the end goals of finishing Uworld twice, Combank once, and getting through every Firecracker card. Overall it I completed 10,580 board style questions, and finished 98% of the Firecracker flash cards; 16,371 of 16,772.

Starting first day of classes I did 40 questions per day. I took the questions like I would on the test, timed with no stops between questions. Then I would review the answers spending most of the time on incorrect questions. The first time through Uworld I did questions based on topics. The second time through, and with Combank all of my questions were randomized. It took me 2 to 2.5 hours per 40 question block, an hour to do the questions and an hour to an hour and a half to review. After spring break I increased it to 60 questions a day; a block and a half. Half way through April I start doing 80 question, two blocks a day, then in dedicated study I did 3 blocks a day. I also did all 6 NBME practice tests, the 8 weekly Firecracker question blocks, and 2 of the COMSAE practice tests. I took my USMLE June 28 and scored a 255, and the COMLEX July 3 and scored 734. I was lucky to score higher than my peers who completed the same amount of board style questions. It was surprising to me since we were all very similar in class grades. I 100% feel that Firecracker was the difference!

I used flashcards though ANKI the entire first two years of medical school, the amount of material is so overwhelming that it would have been impossible for me to set up a review schedule with periodical repetitions with my personal ANKI cards. I feel that Firecracker was indispensable for my board study. It made my study plan straight forward and easy to follow, because I knew exactly what I had each day. It would only take me 2 hours to get through, and I was confident that those 2 hours were the most productive hours of my day. I watched my peers spend time creating study plans and review schedules that were extremely difficult to follow through with. Mainly, because of the volume of ANKI cards that they had to review every day. With Firecracker it made that process so much easier. If I was to give another student advice on how to Firecracker I would say use it like it’s intended to be used. Do the daily questions at least 5 days a week and go concurrently with classes. With the new algorithm it makes using Firecracker during the first year of medical school much much easier. That way you can get through the basic science class cards and have a solid foundation going into second year and board study.”

Doing questions 5+ times per week is absolutely one of the keys to proper preparation and board exam preparedness, as Dallin learned firsthand. The sooner you make review questions a routine in your day-to-day life, the more time you will ultimately save. If saving time and crushing your major tests sounds like a plan to you, then you’re looking at the right platform. Firecracker is free for all new members to sign up; now is the time to unleash the cracken!


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