This is a guest-post from Dave, a Robert Wood Johnson Medical School fourth-year who has done nearly 150,000 questions in his Firecracker membership. He not only used Firecracker en route to crushing Step 1 of the USMLE; Dave makes the most of this software throughout medical school to slay Step 2 and all of his Shelf Exams too! Our data indicates that making a habit of doing Firecracker questions regularly is the most proven behavior that leads to success on the boards, and this student-author is an exemplary case in point. Here is Dave’s take on his experiences with Firecracker as his personal tutor.
I fell in love with Firecracker at the end of my second year of medical school.
I was unsure of how Firecracker could help me in my clinical training during my 3rd year medical clerkships. But, during that time Firecracker decided to revamp its Step 2-oriented material, so I decided to give it a try.
Beginning with my 1st clerkship, internal medicine, I began to flag material that would help me on rounds, my shelf exams, and ultimately Step 2CK. The recall nature of the Firecracker platform proved to me a tremendous tool for all three. On rounds the classic pimping that took place lent itself perfectly to the recall design of Firecracker. I could spit off basic facts that were commonly asked by attendings on rounds. At the beginning of the year I also bought UWorld, which I used as a learning tool and a way to guide my flagging on Firecracker. This proved to be a tremendous strategy for me as I rocked all my shelf exams with scores of 98 on internal medicine, 99 on neurology, 99 on surgery, 98 on psychiatry, 88 on family medicine, 99 on pediatrics, and 90 on ob/gyn. I received a grade of honors on each of the rotations.
Since my ultimate goal was to do well on Step 2CK, I kept all the flagged material throughout the year. So that during my final rotation of ob/gyn I was still seeing questions about internal medicine etc.. This was also a good strategy for doing well on shelf exams since IM/Surgery concepts tend to show up on all the different exams. During the year I was averaging about 300 recall questions per day. I took my Step 2CK exam about 1 week after I finished all of my rotations, so I had virtually no dedicated study time for the exam. Although, I did start taking full length practice NBME Step 2 exams about 3 months prior and finished them all before the real thing. I ended up getting a 283 on Step 2CK, which was much higher than I had been anticipating. I have the Firecracker-based Step 2 content and UWorld to thank for this: