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Shmoop Offers Thousands of Educational Videos that Pack an Emotional Punch

Shmoop adds hundreds of new videos, illustrating educational concepts and helping students relate school material to their own lives.

Little known fact: while video was killing the radio star, it was also busy reinvigorating the classroom.

Videos used to be the crutch of substitute teachers everywhere, but now they’re a crucial part of any curriculum. And while most educational videos fall under the genre of “Deathly Boring,” the videos from Shmoop University (http://www.shmoop.com), a digital publisher that aims to take the friction out of learning, are found in the heart of the “Comedy” section.

Shmoop’s catalog of thousands of videos can be accessed via their video library, ShmoopTube, and are also embedded throughout their site—in Learning Guides, Test Prep, Online Courses, and Teacher Resources—to help visual and auditory learners stay apace in the text-heavy Internet world. The videos cover topics from literature and history to science, math, grammar, and computer science; and even the video titles, like “How to Use a Freakin’ Comma,” scream Shmoop.

“Think Monthy Python meets your wacky 9th-grade English teacher,” says David Siminoff, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Shmoop. “Shmoop videos give students the information they need in a way that helps them retain it, by grabbing them on an emotional level. Shmoop videos are more Cohen Academy than Khan Academy.”

Other educational videos on the market are majorly snooze-inducing. But after watching Shmoop videos, students will still be able to operate heavy machinery…not that they should.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Harper Lee

Hey, Scouts—er…Shmoopers,

By now you’ve heard that a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, called Go Set a Watchman, will be hitting shelves—and Shmoop—this summer. In honor of the news, we put together a list of little-known facts about our back-in-action author.

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1. She’s still alive.

You’d be surprised how many people didn’t realize that until yesterday. Lee will be publishing her second book in July at the age of 89.

2. She’s more popular than Moses.

In 2006, members of the British Museum, Libraries and Archives Council voted To Kill A Mockingbird the number one book that every adult should read before they die. The Bible was number two (source).

3. Harper is actually her middle name.

Her first name, Nelle, is her grandmother Ellen’s name spelled backward (source). Notice how similar her signature is to Shmoop’s…just saying.

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4. She rubbed elbows with the rich and famous…in kindergarten.

When Lee was in kindergarten, she befriended an eccentric young boy named Truman Streckfus Persons. You might know him as Truman Capote—or Dill.

5. Even she had writer’s block.

At one point, Lee grew so frustrated with the writing process she opened the window of her New York apartment and hurled the entire TKAM manuscript into the snow. Clearly, she got it back.

6. She studied law.

Lucky for us, she quit—but not too early to get some good deets for the courtroom scenein To Kill a Mockingbird.

7. She wrote more than one book.

The manuscript for the TKAM sequel was rediscovered last year, and after some hesitation, Lee agreed to publish it. We hear Peter Jackson is directing the movie adaptation, so get ready for Go Set a Watchman Parts 1-3.

If that’s not enough Lee for you, here’s a boatload of Shmoopy goodness on the author and her—till now—one-hit wonder.
Anxiously awaiting July,
Team Shmoop

Quote of the Week

“…when you and Jem are grown,
maybe you’ll look back on this
with some compassion
and some feeling that I didn’t let you down.”

~ To Kill a Mockingbird

We hope Atticus’s words of wisdom are still around in the sequel.

[No mockingbirds were harmed in the making of this newsletter.]

As GED Pass Rates Plummet, Shmoop Provides an Affordable Solution

The number of people who passed the new GED® test in 2014 was dramatically lower than it has been in the past, but Shmoop strives to help improve pass rates.

Shmoop GED

Americans have been taking the GED since 1942, and the test has undergone a whopping five makeovers since then. The most recent version was introduced in 2014 and said hello to the 21st century by making the test completely computer-based, but it also came with a nearly 90% drop in the number of people who passed the test. According to NPR, 540,535 test-takers passed the GED in 2013, while only 58,524 passed in 2014 (note: this number doesn’t account for incarcerated test-takers or people taking alternative tests).

Shmoop, an online test prep provider that aims to make learning fun, put its math elves to work and came up with the following conclusion about those numbers: not good.

Why the decline? First, although the exact cost depends on the state, the new test is more expensive to take. Second, the computer-based exam may be less accessible to some test-takers. (Sorry, No. 2 pencils. It was nice while it lasted.) Finally, the fact that the new test is aligned to the Common Core and includes technology-enhanced items means that it’s just flat-out harder.

Shmoop offers a comprehensive, engaging, and totally updated guide to the new GED that features in-depth topic review for Reasoning Through Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. Shmoop’s product also includes diagnostic exams, two full-length practice exams, and practice questions galore that include video answer explanations for visual learners. To top it off, technology-enhanced items allow test-takers to become familiar with those newfangled drag-and-drop and drop-down questions. And, to be sure that the material is accessible to everyone, Shmoop offers review in Spanish as well.

It won’t be easy to bounce back from the dramatic drop in pass rates, but Shmoop is optimistic that its accessible and engaging materials can help lead the way.

About Shmoop

Shmoop is a digital curriculum and test prep company that makes fun, rigorous learning and teaching resources. Shmoop content is written by experts and teachers, who collaborate to create high-quality and engaging materials for teachers and students. Shmoop Courses, Test Prep, Teaching Guides, and Learning Guides balance a teen-friendly, approachable style with academically rigorous concepts. Shmoop sees 10 million unique visitors a month on its site and offers more than 7,000 titles across the Web, iPhone, Android devices, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader. The company has been honored twice by the Webby Awards, named “Best in Tech” twice by Scholastic Administrator, and awarded Annual Education Software Review Awards (EDDIES) three years in a row. Launched in 2008, Shmoop is headquartered in a labradoodle-patrolled office in Mountain View, California.

GED® is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education (ACE) and administered exclusively by GED Testing Service LLC under license. This material is not endorsed or approved by ACE or GED Testing Service.

7 Things That Are Less Fun Than Taking the SAT

Hi there, Shmoopers!

We know, we know. Test day is the worst. But reality check: it could be way worse. While you prepare to take the SAT® this Saturday, here’s a list to help you keep your chin up.

7 Things That Are Less Fun Than Taking the SAT

1. Working in an early-1900s slaughterhouse

Seriously, even a summary of the details is enough to make you squeamish.

2. Digging holes all day, every day

We’re exhausted just reading about it.

3. Reading Clarissa from beginning to end

It might be worth it in the end, but imagine trying to read this doorstop in one sitting.

4. Solving 274939247 ÷ 359809 by hand

No, really—without a calculator. The SAT Math section is looking a bit better now, huh?

5. Hearing the dentist say, “Oops!”

Ouch. And when Dr. Dentist has all those sharp tools in your mouth, don’t even think about asking what happened.

6. Having a day as bad as Alexander’s

Gum in your hair, a cavity, and nothing good on TV? Way worse than a four-hour test.

7. Finding out that your wife is actually your mother

Oof. At least he didn’t kill his dad or something, too…oh wait.

Feeling better about taking the SAT yet? If you need a little more preparation before the test, head on over to our SAT Exam Prep resources here.

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Quote of the Week

“I think I’ll move to Australia.”

~ Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Things won’t be better Down Under. Might as well just stay put.

*SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

Register for Shmoop and Win a $25 Amazon.com Gift Card

Hey Shmoopers!

Every month between January and June of 2015, Shmoop will be giving one lucky new Shmoop registrant a $25 Amazon.com gift card.

Here are the deets:

1. Register for a new Shmoop account between January and June of 2015.

2. Your name will automatically be in the running for a monthly drawing. Each month’s winner will receive a $25 gift card to Amazon. (We’d spend it on books, but if you’re more into dehumidifiers or whatever, that’s your call.)

3. We will announce the winner (no last names, we promise!) in our newsletter and send a personal email with the gift card.

4. See our legal mumbo jumbo if you have any concerns or email support@shmoop.com with any questions.

Team Shmoop

Shmoop Launches Two New Tools to Help Students Get in to the College of Their Dreams

Shmoop’s College Planning Tool and Resume Builder allow students to find the right colleges and prepare their application materials so they can end up where they want to be: at their dream college and ready to land their ideal job.

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There’s no secret formula for students to get in to their dream college, but Shmoop, a digital publishing company that aims to make learning fun, comes close. An entire section of Shmoop (http://www.shmoop.com), called College 101, is devoted to providing honest and insightful information to prospective college students, all the way from defining their interests and choosing colleges to preparing the application and finding financial aid.

And now Shmoop has two new tools to make the process even more seamless.

Shmoop’s College Planning Tool asks students a series of questions: Do they want to be Division I athletes? Are they city or country folk? Have they already sold their first startup? And of course, what are their SAT® and ACT® scores? Based on their interests, test scores, and general financial outlook, Shmoop then compiles a personalized list of safety, target, and reach schools. Shmoop also provides cost-effectiveness ratings of these schools to be sure everyone gets the best bang for their buck. Students can then learn more about each school…all within the confines of Shmoop.

Once they’ve chosen which schools they’ll apply to, students will need to prepare killer applications. Shmoop already offers a College Application Essay Lab and dozens of articles about the application process—and now it will help students build their resumes, too. Shmoop’s new Resume Redux is like Mad Libs™ for resumes: students fill in the blanks, and Shmoop spits out a fancy, formatted resume.

With all these tools combined, students who Shmoop are guaranteed* to be accepted by the colleges—and jobs—of their dreams. (*Guarantee not guaranteed.)

ACT a federally registered trademark of ACT, Inc. Shmoop University is not affiliated with or endorsed by ACT, Inc.
SAT is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

8 New Year’s Resolutions that Would Have Changed Everything

Happy 2015, Shmoopers!

It’s only been a week, and we’re already feeling the pressure of our New Year’s resolutions. So instead of dwelling on our very real and very hard-to-stick-to goals for 2015, we’ve decided to travel to the world of the imaginary.

We’ve come up with a list of New Year’s resolutions that some of our favorite literary characters probably should have made. Sure, these resolutions would have changed the endings…but the stories would’ve been a lot less bleak.

8 New Year’s Resolutions that
Would Have Changed Everything


1. J. Alfred Prufrock
“This year, I resolve to suck it up and just eat the peach.”

2. Winston Smith
“This is the year I conquer my fear of rats.”

3. Captain Ahab
“I vow to get past that whole white whale hang-up I have.”

4. Ethan Frome
“This is the year I move to California.”

5. Meursault 
Cette année: no shooting people on the beach.”

6. Jay Gatsby
“I’ve spent way too many years hung up on Daisy. It’s time to move on.”

7. Winnie-the-Pooh
“Oh bother. I guess this year I’ll try not to stick my head in so many small spaces.”

8. Victor Frankenstein
“This is the year I put aside my passion for science and read a few books instead.”

Can you think of other New Year’s resolutions that would have changed everything? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ShmoopYear.


Quote of the Week

“Some show a smile and some a frown;
Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
Old weary year! it’s time to go.”

~ Robert Service, The Passing of the Year

New resolution: read more poetry.