USMLE Step 1 and 2 Prep Platform Reviews: Firecracker
Who knew there were more flashcard resources for your USMLE Step 1 studies out there than Quizlet! Right? Well, if you have begun studying for the USMLE (or have read our other posts in this series), chances are that you already know the importance of flashcards– and that there are many great flashcard resources out there. But are all resources created equal?
We’ve sent some of our most experienced tutors to test out different flashcard sites to let you know how effective they actually are. Today we are reviewing Firecracker, an online flashcard resource with the tagline, “Learn Faster, Remember Everything.” But is Firecracker as effective as they claim? Our experts have spoken!
Cost: $150/year and up (with free 7-day trial and specials running constantly)
- Option to differentiate between all step 1 material, high yield step 1 material, Sketchy companion, or Pathoma companion makes doing cards as a review after using a certain resource very handy
- Citations for all recent First Aid and Pathoma versions (including 2018)
- Cards divided systematically
- Pleasing and easy user interface
- Ability to highlight and make on topic pages (But not on flashcards)
- Qbank accompanying is decent quality, and, like UWORLD, has the same user interface as the actual exam.
- Comes with two full-length practice tests
- Ability to answer a card based on how well you knew it from 1-5 or snooze to see it a few minutes later. This then factors into spaced repetition (similar to anki) and you are given a certain number of “review cards” each day.
- No ability to edit flashcards (but you can make notes)
- Spaced repetition is present but not as effective or transparent as Anki
- Time consuming = less time for other resources
Where do I find it?
Our Tutor’s Opinion
Firecracker is a wonderful and well thought out start up that combines flashcards, material by topic, a qbank into one seamless interface. It’s function as an overall software is better than the flashcards, which sometimes falter in that they often contain too much material and cannot be edited. The flashcards aren’t all bad, however. They offer flexibility of choosing how well you knew the material (1-5), which goes into the algorithm for spaced repetition that will suggest ~150-200 cards for you to review each day when you log on to the homepage. Most of the time, the material is bite sized. You can also choose cards to do based on small topics. Here is an example of a well-done flashcard.
Note the citations in grey, the included image, and the ability to “snooze” (similar to choosing the red button in anki). Material is drawn directly from topic pages, which cover all the material presented in first aid, and then some. This allows you to read through a topic and then do the questions for quick recall. This is very useful on wards, and pretty useful for step 1 studying too.
To top it all off there a decent Qbank with Uworld style explanations, and just like flashcards, you can choose to do questions on specific topics. Once you are done with a set, you will be prompted to do cards on the topics you missed, or tag them for later – seamless! Like Uworld, your subscription comes with two full length Step 1 practice tests. Unlike Uworld, you can also copy and paste and take screenshots without your computer kicking you out. Don’t expect great charts and images in answer explanations, however. Below is the Qbank format:
Lastly, a particularly wonderful feature of Firecracker is the ability to choose between studying high yield material or everything: if you are crunched for time and just want the big hitters- this can take a lot of guesswork out of what to prioritize.
For additional questions on how to use Firecrackers properly for your Step 1 and Step 2 studies, feel free to contact one of our experienced USMLE tutors.