Friday, October 25, 2013

Product Review: Firecracker

At the beginning of this semester, a classmate told me about a website called Firecracker. All he really told me was that it’s a website that supports premed (MCAT) and medical school (Step 1) test prep by helping you review material daily, so I signed up for the 1-month free trial to check it out.

Within minutes, I fell in love.

Here’s how it works:
  • All of the material is organized into topics that you flag after you cover them in lecture. (Note: in my experience, every testable subject has been accounted for.)
  • Each topic is associated with review questions, and the questions get added to your daily quiz as you flag topics.
  • Start the quiz.
  • Once you answer the question, you click “show answer” and the relevant material appears below the question.
  • Rank each question in terms of your level of mastery.

When you review the question answer, all relevant information pops up, along with any related images (charts, histology, etc.). I love how this is set up, because it provides immediate feedback and helps you learn as you go.

The question-ranking function is by far the most helpful feature. Questions that you haven’t mastered will be repeated more often in upcoming quizzes. However, they’re all eventually repeated to make sure you’ve committed the topic to long-term memory. For topics that you know perfectly and will never forget, you can check a box to never see that question again.

You can also customize your quizzes quite a bit. If it’s hard for you to jump from subject to subject or you’re short on time, you can select the subject(s) you want to include in your quiz. Plus, you can reschedule questions if you have a busy day.

There are a ton of other features, like the ability to search the entire website for a term, USMLE simulation exams, performance reviews, etc. But I want to finish this post sometime before dinner, so here’s my overall impression:

I wish I’d been using Firecracker during first year: it would have been immensely helpful. As a second year, this is a fantastic tool for staying current with new material and slowly adding in subjects from first year. This is the only method I’ve found that allows me to start reviewing last year’s material and preparing for Step 1 without giving myself a panic attack. Plus, a month-long free trial is definitely an adequate amount of time to use the website and decide if it works for you.

Health Scout Rating: 10/10 - STRONGLY RECOMMEND

Edit: Here is a great Tumblr post about Firecracker. It also explores the similarities with Anki (which I tried to use for a while last year). Read it if you'd like another perspective.

Disclosure: I am not employed by Firecracker and do not share in any company profits, however I am voluntarily partnering with them to help promote their product. I opted to do so because of my personal success with the website.

1 comment:

  1. Have you noticed any increases in your UWorld/NBME scores? Have you been able to keep up with Firecracker on top of M2 classes?


Questions? Comments?