Students who use Firecracker score higher with more consistency than students who don’t. For instance, when we surveyed over 3,000 medical students in 2014, students who reported using Firecracker averaged a 243 on USMLE Step 1 whereas students who said they didn’t use Firecracker reported an average of 230. And, it’s not because they study more or are better test takers. We checked. There was also a highly significant and strong correlation between the number of questions students answered in Firecracker, the amount of material they covered, the length of time they used Firecracker, and their USMLE Step 1 performance.
It's Scientifically Proven:
Three of the most proven -- yet unfortunately highly underutilized -- learning and memory science principles form the bedrock of Firecracker’s approach. Active recall, spaced repetition, and interleaving (switching things up).
- Active recall means coming up with answers in your head and has been shown in numerous studies to be a much more effective learning methodology than things like recognizing correct answer choices in multiple choice questions, passively reading or rereading something, or even writing something out with the help of a textbook. They reason it’s the most effective and is hypothesized to be because it’s difficult. So, when it comes to learning, no pain really means no gain. :) Firecracker’s system includes over 30,000 gunner-approved flashcards.
- Spaced repetition is based on the consistent observation that humans learn best through repeated exposure to something. The evidence of spaced learning is irrefutable and ubiquitous; everyone learns better this way. But how do you keep track of what you know, how well you know it and when you should see it again? Firecracker’s adaptive learning algorithm bakes in spaced repetition and insights from the 100,000+ medical students we’ve taught over the years.
- Interleaving is a fancy word for switching things up -- in other words, throwing you a curveball when you expect a fastball. In more words -- since we used an analogy to explain an analogy (sorry, we’re awesome like that) -- you learn best if you’re kept on your toes. In even more words (and now risking that you’ll email email@example.com to tell him how much you hate him and want your 1 min of life back), that means you learn best if you’re asked to recall information in multiple ways, ideally interspersed with one another so you aren’t expecting it. Firecracker does this by alternating 1 order flashcards, 2 order multiple-choice questions (MCQs), 1 order flashcards, and 2 order flashcards. Like what we did there? You’re gonna love Firecracker. ;)
- Want to learn more? Check out this recent New York Times article. More hardcore students of learning and memory science may want to read this 52 page report the Department of Education asked top scientists to contribute too. Oh, and this summary of proven learning and memory science from a UC Berkeley Professor rocks, big time.
You Can't Get It Anywhere Else:
- If people claim to have a great adaptive learning algorithm, ask them how many data points they are basing their algorithm on. If it’s more than 149,000,000+, we will give you a full refund. Well, I won’t, somebody else will. People do about 8 million questions a month in Firecracker (and growing fast). JV or Varsity? Exactly.
- Firecracker is seriously app-ified. I mean, for serious. We have more apps than TomTom’s got maps. Ok, for real serious: every Firecracker program comes with free access to mobile and iPad/tablet apps that you can download on Google Play or Apple iTunes store.
- Firecracker was started by gunners and even though we’ve shed that exoskeleton so we can blend in (yo), roots are roots. So, to keep it real and give our gunner resident and attending friends and proto med school gunners some part-time dough, we hired them to write, fact check and quadruple fact check our content. In fact, there are 65 gunners sitting in a cave (we can’t tell you where or we’d have to electrocute you with your own computer) doing stuff like fact checking our content with First Aid, then with Pathoma to make sure, then with Robbins to make sure they made sure, then with Google (Scholar, no diggity) to make sure everyone made sure to make sure.
- Wicked smaht, good looking, we call our moms regularly, obviously humble, etc. What more can you ask for?