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Firecracker vs brosencephalon

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akuko2

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Hey guys, I'm coming to the last block of MS1 and have been doing well with out ever appreciably using Anki or firecracker but I want to add in something for spaced repetition so that I can make sure I retain everything over the summer and MS2. Does anyone have an opinion of whether I should purchase Firecracker or start using brosencephalon's anki? Do either have all the important cards for STEP 1 prep already made or would I have to make my own extra cards to make them useful tools?
 

Blunt Dissection

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I can't speak on Bros anki, but I enjoy Firecracker. You have the option to set it to all of Step 1 material or high yield Step 1 material. I've been using Firecracker consistently over the year and it's helped me a lot. I downloaded the app on my phone and just randomly do it throughout the day and by the end of the day I get through like 50 - 100 cards. It's pretty low effort.
 
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AlbinoHawk DO

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I did FC for about a year and a half and then regretted wasting my money on it. I lived through the different versions of it and they were all poor in one way or another (either too obscure in facts in the legacy version or missing essential stuff such as in HY mode). Bros deck is literally free and contains all the material from FA/Pathoma, so FC essentially adds nothing.
 
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Same as @AlbinoHawk DO , I regret wasting money on FC. I'm at the end of MS1 and haven't used FC in a couple months (didn't match well with my classes) and downloaded Bros recently to check it out. Some of the cards are literally identical.

The thing you get with FC that you don't get with Bros: a review guide (which is 99% of the time word for word from FA - and they even cite FA as their source for everything) and a daily MCQ. You can spend the same amount on a year of a q-bank as you would on a year of FA, so do the free Bros and get a q-bank.

[edited for clarity]
 

intubesteak

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I love firecracker. But catching up over the summer from an entire year might be pretty tough. I have found that you have to go through things slowly enough, otherwise it feels like you are drowning and not retaining anything. It takes me a few passes with the same set of cards to feel comfortable with them. It probably depends on your curriculum whether or not you would be able to catch up over summer. My school takes step1 pretty early (March) so we have already covered all of the basic sciences and a bunch of organ systems...it would be too much to cover all of that over the summer, IMO. If you are doing only basic sciences first year then you could probably do it.

With firecracker, people tend to either love it or hate it. I think you have to really commit to using it well, otherwise its not going to help much. I spend on average 2.5 hours a day with it, but 2 of those hours are focused on the block I am currently in. I am doing well in large part because I start memorizing stuff from day 1 of the block instead of waiting till the week before the test to review.

Unless you plan on being pretty hardcore with FC its hard for me to recommend it. If you are hardcore with it, its amazing.
 
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WheezyBaby

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I'm in the firecracker hater group and I was on the pretty hardcore studying end of the spectrum. I started using it when it was still GT though. Bros is after my time, but if the cards are well made it sounds superior. And it's free. The maker is collaborating with osmosis in some form I believe, so there may be a more refined version of bros coming out at some point, though I'd assume not for free
 
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mcloaf

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I did FC for about a year and a half and then regretted wasting my money on it. I lived through the different versions of it and they were all poor in one way or another (either too obscure in facts in the legacy version or missing essential stuff such as in HY mode). Bros deck is literally free and contains all the material from FA/Pathoma, so FC essentially adds nothing.

There is definitely stuff in FC that comes from additional sources other than just FA and Pathoma, unless they've deleted a lot of content since I stopped using it after Step 1. I agree though, if you just want FA in flashcard form (which it sounds like you did, based on your concern about obscure stuff in FC) then FC is probably not the right choice.

Just try both and see which one you gel with

^^^
 
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akuko2

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Thanks for the answers y'all! Yeah I'm not looking to catch up or get too far ahead. I just want to make sure that everything is still fresh from before and possibly start to look at some of the tougher material that is coming ahead if I have any free time.
 

JPSmyth

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From reading online it seems that most people who complete firecracker score very well on step 1. I'm sure that it is a huge time commitment to finish firecracker but it seems like it would pay off on the test. Are there any stories of people completing firecracker and not scoring above 240?
 

Affiche

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I'm hella skeptical of FC.

I've seen the "data" that the average FC score like 245, which is AFTER they've excluded everyone who used FC but weren't "committed" to it.

To answer the above question, I think most people in my class use FC (i'm in a systems curriculum) and it seems to have no correlation with their scores. People who spend more time studying do well, regardless of what they're using.

I will say though that I've tried FC twice (the trial) and couldn't get into it. To each his own.
 
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wegh

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Firecracker user here. It is constantly improving, awesome support, and is markedly different today than how it used to be. The opinion people have of it is also usually flawed, either by how they think it should be used or by their limited experience. I didn't use a single book in third year (other than pestanas and FA psych, which are both in firecracker). It also helped me really plan out my study schedule (I need to get through x number of topics a day). On top of that they have a question bank most people don't know about that is IMO, very good. That has put firecracker over the edge in my opinion. Obviously uworld and nbmes are still the best, but firecracker questions > kaplan, usmleasy for sure

Had to catch up during second year because I didn't use it in the first. Come step 1 time, I didn't feel like I had to review anything.
 

wegh

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I'm hella skeptical of FC.

I've seen the "data" that the average FC score like 245, which is AFTER they've excluded everyone who used FC but weren't "committed" to it.

Well to be fair, I know personally many people who either bought or trialed firecracker that don't really represent the users who actually stick with it. It does take a lot of commitment and usually you have to give up some other forms of studying to make time for it, therefore a lot of students aren't comfortable doing that if they see other students not doing firecracker.
 
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Storph

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I tried FC for a while during first year, and a little bit of second year, but I switched to Bros early in second year. I thought bros was an easier system to manage. As far as effectiveness, I got over a 250 on step using predominantly bros, but my roommate used FC predominantly and he also scored over a 250, so I think either resource will do enough for you if you put in consistent time.
 
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JPSmyth

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Firecracker user here. It is constantly improving, awesome support, and is markedly different today than how it used to be. The opinion people have of it is also usually flawed, either by how they think it should be used or by their limited experience. I didn't use a single book in third year (other than pestanas and FA psych, which are both in firecracker). It also helped me really plan out my study schedule (I need to get through x number of topics a day). On top of that they have a question bank most people don't know about that is IMO, very good. That has put firecracker over the edge in my opinion. Obviously uworld and nbmes are still the best, but firecracker questions > kaplan, usmleasy for sure

Had to catch up during second year because I didn't use it in the first. Come step 1 time, I didn't feel like I had to review anything.

Can I start FC during first year, I'll start the free trial after a few weeks of class?
 
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Can I start FC during first year, I'll start the free trial after a few weeks of class?
Yes, you can. But that only lasts a week. And many people are here telling you it is a waste of money. Find out if upperclassmen at your school are using it, that might help make your decision.
 

JPSmyth

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Yes, you can. But that only lasts a week. And many people are here telling you it is a waste of money. Find out if upperclassmen at your school are using it, that might help make your decision.

from my interpretation I was getting that it is a lot to keep up with but if you are able to do so then it will be effective and worth it. I have never seen anybody post "I finished firecracker and it didn't help with step 1."

It's 450 dollars for 2 years, that's a drop in the bucket compared to the $250,000 medical education im paying for.
 

intubesteak

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from my interpretation I was getting that it is a lot to keep up with but if you are able to do so then it will be effective and worth it. I have never seen anybody post "I finished firecracker and it didn't help with step 1."

It's 450 dollars for 2 years, that's a drop in the bucket compared to the $250,000 medical education im paying for.

Do not pay full price, whatever you do. I think I got 2 years for $230ish.
 
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intubesteak

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I almost quit about 5 or so months in...then I talked to my cousin who scored somewhere in the 260's and swears by FC...needless to say he convinced me to keep using it. If you can find someone in *real life* who uses it and talk to them it might help. Also it would be pretty helpful to get some more detailed advice on the best ways to use it...there is a ton of flexibility in how you set it up, which I have found is very important and is going to vary person to person.
 
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intubesteak

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I'm hella skeptical of FC.

I've seen the "data" that the average FC score like 245, which is AFTER they've excluded everyone who used FC but weren't "committed" to it.

To answer the above question, I think most people in my class use FC (i'm in a systems curriculum) and it seems to have no correlation with their scores. People who spend more time studying do well, regardless of what they're using.

I will say though that I've tried FC twice (the trial) and couldn't get into it. To each his own.


I think you are spot on with the time spent studying. When I wake up in the morning, I don't screw around because I have 300 cards to do. Between classes Ill probably bust through a few more. When I get sick of looking at powerpoint cards I spend an hour on FC. Basically it makes it very easy for me to study more. I don't have to think about what to study, how long, whatever...I just start going through my cards. And the interface is aesthetically pleasing and ergonomic, unlike anki.

In terms of correlation with scores...my scores went up from slightly above average to top 10% when I started using firecracker seriously. There's nothing magical about the cards themselves but overall it is a great study tool in the right hands.
 
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Ho0v-man

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I think you are spot on with the time spent studying. When I wake up in the morning, I don't screw around because I have 300 cards to do. Between classes Ill probably bust through a few more. When I get sick of looking at powerpoint cards I spend an hour on FC. Basically it makes it very easy for me to study more. I don't have to think about what to study, how long, whatever...I just start going through my cards. And the interface is aesthetically pleasing and ergonomic, unlike anki.

In terms of correlation with scores...my scores went up from slightly above average to top 10% when I started using firecracker seriously. There's nothing magical about the cards themselves but overall it is a great study tool in the right hands.

How many new vs old cards per day and how many hours per day do you think you invest in FC?
 

intubesteak

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How many new vs old cards per day and how many hours per day do you think you invest in FC?

Roughly 150 of the current block, 150 of past blocks. At most 100 of those cards are new (that would be a rough day). Usually more like 30-40 are new, and towards the end of the block none are new. The idea is to slowly add new cards while reviewing old ones so it doesn't feel overwhelming. It definitely depends on your brain...I'm not great at memorizing so I have to do more cards every day for extra repetition.

Average time usage=2ish hours a day. I break it up into 30 minute chunks. Before a test I might go through my entire "urgent" deck and spend 4 or more hours on it total. I would say 30 minutes of that is used on old stuff, 1.5 hours on the current block. For me the main purpose is helping me memorize and space out the material from classes and the current block. I have no idea if the 30 minutes of old stuff per day will make a huge difference when it comes to step, but I know that using FC for the current block is really helping me.
 
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Ho0v-man

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Roughly 150 of the current block, 150 of past blocks. At most 100 of those cards are new (that would be a rough day). Usually more like 30-40 are new, and towards the end of the block none are new. The idea is to slowly add new cards while reviewing old ones so it doesn't feel overwhelming. It definitely depends on your brain...I'm not great at memorizing so I have to do more cards every day for extra repetition.

Average time usage=2ish hours a day. I break it up into 30 minute chunks. Before a test I might go through my entire "urgent" deck and spend 4 or more hours on it total. I would say 30 minutes of that is used on old stuff, 1.5 hours on the current block. For me the main purpose is helping me memorize and space out the material from classes and the current block. I have no idea if the 30 minutes of old stuff per day will make a huge difference when it comes to step, but I know that using FC for the current block is really helping me.

Thanks. Should have thrown this in with my last post, but you only memorize new cards on stuff you've already seen in lecture and studied in power points, right? Or are you starting with new cards?
 

intubesteak

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Thanks. Should have thrown this in with my last post, but you only memorize new cards on stuff you've already seen in lecture and studied in power points, right? Or are you starting with new cards?

Yeah, pretty much. Its painful to try and memorize stuff without getting the concepts first.


It goes on sale. Also anyone who has it already can give you a link for the sale price and they get a small commission.
 

Frogger27

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Zanki > Bros > FC

I saw the Zanki decks floating around Reddit a little bit ago.. everyone seems to think they are the best decks out there, head and shoulders above the rest
 
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HybridEarth

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I'm new to all this stuff - is it a good idea to use the bros deck if I haven't even learned any of the M2 stuff yet?
 
D

deleted731525

Question for firecracker fans: For cards that ask you to recall a long list, do you try to remember the whole list before you give that card a 4 or a 5 or do you base it on if you think you would get a question on that topic right?
 

intubesteak

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Question for firecracker fans: For cards that ask you to recall a long list, do you try to remember the whole list before you give that card a 4 or a 5 or do you base it on if you think you would get a question on that topic right?

Depends...I never actually give 4s/5s because then I feel like ill never see it again. If I think its an important list, ill try to memorize it. There's really no formula or one way to do it as long as you are engaging your brain and trying to get things to sink in.
 
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wegh

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Question for firecracker fans: For cards that ask you to recall a long list, do you try to remember the whole list before you give that card a 4 or a 5 or do you base it on if you think you would get a question on that topic right?

It depends on how critical the things I did or didn't miss were (at least in my opinion). If I remember just headache and nausea out of 5 adverse effects, but miss the really high yield one, then I will treat it like a 1 or 2. But if I get the main point, I won't have a problem marking it a 4-5
 

Elessar

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Question for firecracker fans: For cards that ask you to recall a long list, do you try to remember the whole list before you give that card a 4 or a 5 or do you base it on if you think you would get a question on that topic right?
This is why bros/Anki is superior to firecracker, IMO.
 
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68PGunner

This is why bros/Anki is superior to firecracker, IMO.

You can edit the card in Anki w/ your cool little story or mneumonic to help w retention. For example, you can't remember that antagonism of 5-HT2 from mirtazapine will mitigate anxiety. However, a picture of Ray Lewis wearing 52 will definitely cue in the anxiety hard hitting tackles.
 
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BamaNicole

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I personally found firecracker easier to use, however, I did start using flashcards in general after second year started. If I started earlier I may have had a different view.
 

wegh

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This is why bros/Anki is superior to firecracker, IMO.

That is the reason? You do realize that you don't have to live and die by "memorize the whole list or you can't mark it 4-5", right? The idea is that "1" comes back the soonest and "5" comes back the latest. The user has the discretion to dictate when they want to see something again. If it's a stupid card, just mark it a "5"!

Firecracker has a really worthwhile question bank. Bro's does not
 
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waytogo1

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has anyone used both firecracker and bros deck by any chance?
I tried using both (but not at the same time) to see which one I liked better, but I couldn't decide bc they both had pros and cons for me. Firecracker had a good outline/structure so that if I didn't know an answer, I could easily read more about it. But its repeat algorithm sucks IMO, and answers to some questions are just too long. I felt like Bros deck helped me memorize better and it took me less time to go through them. But, if I didn't understand the card, I had to search through the internet and edit them as I go along-- huge time sink. Also, I'm kind of nervous that there may be a lot of changes from 2014 FA (Bros deck is based on 2014 I think?) to 2017.
If I can, I want to use firecracker and try to bank as many as possible over this summer, and add on bros deck once school start. Would this be an overkill?
 

Ho0v-man

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edit: nvm
 
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AnatomyGrey12

Why can't I find the Zanki deck in Ankiwebs?
 
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sunnyk123

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I think you are spot on with the time spent studying. When I wake up in the morning, I don't screw around because I have 300 cards to do. Between classes Ill probably bust through a few more. When I get sick of looking at powerpoint cards I spend an hour on FC. Basically it makes it very easy for me to study more. I don't have to think about what to study, how long, whatever...I just start going through my cards. And the interface is aesthetically pleasing and ergonomic, unlike anki.

In terms of correlation with scores...my scores went up from slightly above average to top 10% when I started using firecracker seriously. There's nothing magical about the cards themselves but overall it is a great study tool in the right hands.

How do you make sure that Firecracker is repeating the cards at the rate you need to prepare for block exams? Some schools have like 3 weeks between blocks and I've heard others having anywhere from 1 - 6 weeks. How do you know that the cards will be all be repeated enough times for you to learn before your exam?
 
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