rtmsf95

2+ Year Member
May 31, 2015
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Medical Student (Accepted)
I will soon be entering my first year of medical school, and wanted to get your input on the pros and cons of Anki and Firecracker, and which you felt was/would have been the better tool to use for long term learning. I like that with Anki you can personalize your cards, but they must take a lot of time to make, while firecracker has cards premade, but not as personalized to your taste. So does the benefit of one outweigh the cost of another?

I also noticed some MS1 students purchase First Aid and familiarize themselves with it, bit by bit, as they go through the various courses. I definitely see the benefit of this, as it would yield a more streamlined process when you have that dedicated Step 1 studying time, but also acknowledge the risk of focusing more on memorization and less on understanding during the preclinical years. So, if you utilized it while staying conscious of this, would it be worth it?

Appreciate any and all feedback :)

Sincerely,
Mr. Anxious
 
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xffan624

5+ Year Member
Jan 6, 2013
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I will soon be entering my first year of medical school, and wanted to get your input on the pros and cons of Anki and Firecracker, and which you felt was/would have been the better tool to use for long term learning. I like that with Anki you can personalize your cards, but they must take a lot of time to make, while firecracker has cards premade, but not as personalized to your taste. So does the benefit of one outweigh the cost of another?

I also noticed some MS1 students purchase First Aid and familiarize themselves with it, bit by bit, as they go through the various courses. I definitely see the benefit of this, as it would yield a more streamlined process when you have that dedicated Step 1 studying time, but also acknowledge the risk of focusing more on memorization and less on understanding during the preclinical years. So, if you utilized it while staying conscious of this, would it be worth it?

Appreciate any and all feedback :)

Sincerely,
Mr. Anxious
I used anki for classes. Making cards is a form of studying and copy and pasting can also speed up the process. I also didn't take every word of my lectures and put them in flashcard form, but tried to focus on the more high yield stuff (first aid helps you identify this). I did try firecracker, but didn't see it as superior to my anki cards. A lot of their "cards" were just too wordy for good retention.

As far as first aid goes, I found it useful near the end of a block for quick review and ensuring that I knew and understand all the high yield topics which seemed generally at my school to be the best way to ensure that I would get a decent grade on the exam. I went to an unranked pass/fail school though so my need or desire to know every single line of the lecture slides was limited. YMMV based on your school. Talk some MS2's to get a sense of how the tests run and what the best way to ensure you're covering the material in order to pass your classes (first objective, with everything else being a distant second at this stage)
 
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rtmsf95

rtmsf95

2+ Year Member
May 31, 2015
24
18
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I used anki for classes. Making cards is a form of studying and copy and pasting can also speed up the process. I also didn't take every word of my lectures and put them in flashcard form, but tried to focus on the more high yield stuff (first aid helps you identify this). I did try firecracker, but didn't see it as superior to my anki cards. A lot of their "cards" were just too wordy for good retention.

As far as first aid goes, I found it useful near the end of a block for quick review and ensuring that I knew and understand all the high yield topics which seemed generally at my school to be the best way to ensure that I would get a decent grade on the exam. I went to an unranked pass/fail school though so my need or desire to know every single line of the lecture slides was limited. YMMV based on your school. Talk some MS2's to get a sense of how the tests run and what the best way to ensure you're covering the material in order to pass your classes (first objective, with everything else being a distant second at this stage)
That is some amazing feedback, thank you soooo much. It's probably a personal preference thing, but I utilized Anki for some of the upper-level bio and neuroscience courses at my school, and I think that I was more focused on making good cards and not really encoding what I was typing up. I also never got into the habit of studying my Anki decks long term, so perhaps I'll just have to really step up my discipline. But it is for this reason I am considering Firecracker a viable option. It provides a platform with reliable cards that engages you and has everything set up nicely, so you're more willing to go through it on a daily basis.
 

xffan624

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Jan 6, 2013
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I believe firecracker gives you an option for free trial, so I would take advantage of that. Give it a shot. See how you like it. Biggest complaint is the slides are just excessively wordy at times. They also might not fit how your curriculum is designed so it's difficult to do them alongside your classes.
 
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Cereal Science

2+ Year Member
Mar 2, 2015
25
41
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Medical Student
In the same boat as you starting MS1 as well. I am planning on doing a Firecracker trial and Osmosis trial. I did some digging on Bros deck for Anki and was planning to do that since it comes so highly recommended. I signed up for Osmosis since I liked the class integration feature and lo and behold Osmosis has Bros deck with updates integrated into it. Apparently Bro is working with their team? I'm still planning on trying both but I found that interesting. I saw some reviews on here but have many people liked Osmosis? It's not free but I like that it has FA, Pathoma, and Bros tied into its' daily flashcard quizzes and seems to be user friendly. Plus being able to add class materials seems kind of nice. I read some threads where students started using USMLE RX early on as well. It seems like a lot to me to integrate this plus something like Firecracker but maybe I am wrong?
 
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rtmsf95

rtmsf95

2+ Year Member
May 31, 2015
24
18
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
In the same boat as you starting MS1 as well. I am planning on doing a Firecracker trial and Osmosis trial. I did some digging on Bros deck for Anki and was planning to do that since it comes so highly recommended. I signed up for Osmosis since I liked the class integration feature and lo and behold Osmosis has Bros deck with updates integrated into it. Apparently Bro is works with their team? I'm still planning on trying both but I found that interesting. I saw some reviews on here but have many people liked Osmosis? It's not free but I like that it has FA, Pathoma, and Bros tied into its' daily flashcard quizzes and seems to be user friendly. Plus being able to add class materials seems kind of nice. I read some threads where students started using USMLE RX early on as well. It seems like a lot to me to integrate this plus something like Firecracker but maybe I am wrong?
Actually to be quite honest, I hadn't really heard much about Osmosis until you brought it up. I don't think it's nearly as popular as some of the other resources you mentioned. I'll look into it nonetheless. I asked several different medical students about how they studied, and a common theme I found was that they all used FA to a certain extent. Some used it as a big picture sorta thing, reviewing the concepts they'd cover the week of the exam to summarize and tie everything up. Others mentioned that there's versions of FA (General Principles, Organ Systems) that go more in depth, and they recommended using that to supplement class material, and utilize the main USMLE FA for Step I prep. Although the USMLE FA is a renowned resource and very reliable, I researched on these additional FAs, and many threads indicate that they have a lot of inaccuracies and faults in the text. So right now, I guess I'll hang tight and conduct some trial and error. Hopefully, I'll be able to narrow down on what works for me. I just wanted to streamline that process with this post, but I think the "everybody is different" point avails as always.
 
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mw18

5+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2014
890
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I think what will happen is that you'll get in your first week, and you'll be incredibly overwhelmed and you will pick whichever the fastest and easiest is and you will go with that. You will (appropriately) put Step 1 materials off as you will be trying incredibly hard to just keep up. I honestly can't recommend you spend time studying things that aren't catered to your school (flashcards you make) until you get used to it and what it takes. I use quizlet to study my school cards. When I got to systems I starting using Bros (if there was an NBME component) and I'm finishing all of Bros now on Anki and I'm going to review through the year and I might do some question bank (not Uworld) during the year. There is no way I could have done anything like this when I first got to school though. You kinda have to give your school-specific material everything you have to make sure you pass.
 

.hematoma.

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2016
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My advice: Don't worry about step for your first quarter/semester. Focus really hard on the class material and, if you want more clarification, look into the best prep resources for each course. How do you find out the best resources? At the end of the First Aid book there's a RANKED list of best resources for each course you'll take (biochem, physio, anatomy, etc)! To the extent of first few months and, arguably, the first year, that's how much you should get into First Aid.

I didn't do Firecracker/Anki/First Aid (well, I started using FA during the last couple months of 1st year). The problem with those resources is they are great for Step, but they don't help you develop a foundational knowledge for a course. I made my own flashcards using Quizlet (better interface, easier to make cards, great Iphone/Ipad app for on the go studying; if you like the spaced repetition jazz pay $15 per year for their spaced repetition package, it's worth one dinner at a nice restaurant).

Second year is a completely different story (so I hear since I start in a couple weeks), but for now the MAIN GOAL is for you to learn how you study best without being bogged down with 20 different resources. Trust me, there's plenty of time for resource overload second year :scared: