Literary March Madness: Elite Eight

Shmoop’s March Madness is back, and we’ve got an Elite Eight fighting for their place as best book ever.

Vote your hearts out and stay tuned for our Final Four to be announced on Wednesday.

MarchMadnessElite8

British Lit

Dystopian Lit

American Lit

World Lit

 

Literary March Madness: Sweet Sixteen

Far from fearing the Ides of March, Shmoop embraces March Madness. But just because we have no idea how to throw a free throw doesn’t mean we can’t participate in all the collegiate fun.

Enter: Shmoop’s March Madness. We’re putting your favorites* toe-to-toe until we get to your favorite novel. Make sure you get your favorite to the finals by voting early (and often). New brackets will come up on Mondays and Wednesdays, so come back and see which of your favorites has made it through to the next round!

*To prevent an Internet mob from raging about how their fav didn’t make the list: these books are the top 16 viewed lit guides from Shmoop. Maybe your fav will make it next year!

MarchMadnessSweet16

British Lit

Dystopian Lit

American Lit

World Lit

College Board Announces Huge New SAT Changes

After as much anticipation as a Hunger Games movie, the College Board finally announced the major changes they’ll be making to the 2015 PSAT and 2016 SAT. David Coleman, College Board President, said the changes are being made to better align to students’ high school curriculum and really show what students have learned and how that will apply to their prospective college classrooms.

So what’s in store? Shmoop’s here to break it down:

  •  No more penalty for guessing. If students don’t finish in time, they can fill in “C” all the way down without fear of retribution.
  • No more ten-dollar words. The College Board finally has seen the Shmoopy light: just because a word has seven syllables doesn’t mean it should be used to determine how smart you are. Vocabulary is meant to help us communicate, so the SAT will replace words like “depreciatory” with words students actually use, like “empirical.”
  • Optional essay. If students do choose to write an essay, they’ll be asked to analyze a passage and explain how the author made his or her argument.
  • Welcome back to the perfect 1600. Now that the essay’s gone semi-sayonara, scores will once again be out of 1600, with 800 each for reading and math.
  • Sourcing source documents. Students will be asked to use source documents from science, social studies, and American history (hello, Declaration of Independence!) to answer questions.
  • Math Refocus. Questions will be focused on linear equations, complex equations/functions, and ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning. Also important to know: calculators will only be allowed on part of the math section. Time to break out that abacus!
  • Both digital and paper formats. Welcome to the technological revolution!

Given that there are over half a dozen bullet-points on that list, Shmoop understands that students (and teachers) need a steady hand to hold in these confusing times. Thankfully, this isn’t the first time Shmoop has had to revamp its Test Prep to meet new standards.

Here’s why students and teachers can continue to count on Shmoop:

  • We’ve faced test changes before promptly and with aplomb. Shmoop already updated its AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Spanish Language exams, and Shmoop made sure students had a full school year to use its new study materials.
  • We build our resources to keep up with the times. Just like how Shmoop’s Online Courses and Teaching Guides are auto-tagged with their appropriate Common Core Standards, Shmoop’s SAT Math Shack is built to respond to the new, just-announced Math section.
  • We never stop innovating. Even when the SAT was offering the same-old, same-old, Shmoop was never standing still. Over the past year, Shmoop’s SAT has built out our Math Shack, Math Shack Assignments, and have constantly been tweaking our materials to offer you the best review, best drills, and best practice exams.

That said, stay tuned for Shmoop’s SAT: The Sequel. We promise it’ll be even better than the original.

Shmoop’s Math Shack Assignments Vanquish SAT & ACT Math Woes

Teachers with Shmoop licenses can now assign and schedule SAT & ACT math quizzes for free.

Thanks to the new and improved Math Shack, students have a personal trainer to help them bulk up their brains so they’re strong enough to face the SATs and ACTs. Teachers with SAT or ACT Prep licenses from Shmoop, one of the world’s largest digital publishers of test prep materials, online courses, and education guides, can now assign a Math Shack quiz packed with an infinite number of reps and drills to turn their students into varsity mathletes.

Infinite number of quizzes

The library of rules boasts over 200 topics and concepts, which comprehensively covers everything that’s included in the SAT and ACT–including Geometry, Algebra, Functions, Numbers & Operations, and Data Analysis. Teachers can schedule a time for individual students to complete personalized quizzes that focus on stubborn problem areas like linear equations, coordinate planes, and negative exponents. Teachers can also assign new quizzes with a mix of hard and warm-up question sets from the same topic without fear of plateauing–all questions are randomly generated, so the odds of getting the same quiz twice is the same as getting struck by lightning.

Math Shack analytics

Once students complete their Math Shack quiz, they can easily submit it to their teachers at the click of a button. While quiz takers can’t see the answers until after the due date, teachers get immediate results and can view the areas of improvement needed for students by topic (wrong answers are written in red–they’re old school over at Shmoop). Students also get awarded ‘Shmoints’ based on the number of questions they answered correctly to foster some friendly competition in mathleticism.

Licensed accounts get it for free

To start assigning Math Shack quizzes right away, all Shmoop accounts with either an SAT or ACT Prep teacher license can log in and click ‘Create Classroom’ from the Profile page. The ‘Assignments’ tab has the option to ‘Create Assignment’ and generate as many Math Shack quizzes its teachers desire.  Get started today by logging on to Shmoop.com!

For teachers who don’t have a Shmoop account but want to help their students grab the y-axis by its tail and turn it on its head, visit Shmoop.com today to purchase their SAT or ACT product.

 

 

 

Shmoop’s Year in Rewind: 2013

2013, man. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of Prince George Alexander Lewis, it was the age of Miley “Twerking” Cyrus. But most importantly, it was the season of studying, which meant it definitely was the season of Shmoop.

A lot’s happened at Shmoop in the past year. We’re not the little learning guide site of yesteryear anymore; we’re bigger, badder, and better than ever, and it’s all thanks to you. If you ask for it, we’ll build it. That’s just how we roll.

So we’ve put together the ultimate list of what you’ve loved this year at Shmoop. Check below to see if your favorites made the list!

College 101

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70% of Americans view college education as very important, and your embracing of our new College 101 guide makes us think y’all are part of that 70%. We wanted to make a resource that helped students at every step of the process, from deciding where to apply to applying for financial aid to deciding on which school to attend, and we’re so excited that you’ve found it to be as happening as we’d hoped. Your fav page? Personal statements. We personally think you all rock.

Here’s hoping you get into all the places you applied to this spring!

Literature Guides

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 11.02.32 PMMaybe it was the movie, maybe it was that dystopian lit is still as hot as ever (see below: Courses), but your top Lit picks this year all were from the Hunger Games trilogy. Go Team Katniss!

Top Literature Guides

  1. Catching Fire

  2. The Hunger Games

  3. Mockingjay

Teacher Guides

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Unlike our Lit Guides, your favorite Teacher Guides aren’t trendy. They highlight those well-loved classics that will never leave the classroom—not even if you tried to pry them away from us with a crowbar.

Top Teacher Guides

  1. The Great Gatsby

  2. To Kill a Mockingbird

  3. Romeo and Juliet

Schools & Districts

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One of our favorite parts of Shmoop is that we work closely with students, teachers, and administrators to help make learning possible. We wanted to make it easier than ever for schools and districts to get the information they need and the products they want, so we launched our Enterprise Site and Self-Serve Check-Out. We also launched our Twitter especially for educators, @Shmoop4Schools, to keep you up-to-date with the latest Shmoop stuff and education headlines.

Essay Lab

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We revamped our Essay Lab this year and boy, did you guys notice! Now complete with a Writing Guide, as well as options for writing literature essays or college personal statements, our Essay Lab is better than ever and, most importantly, more popular than ever. Keep on writing!

Courses

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One of our biggest projects this year was getting our Online Courses (aka ShMOOCs) into your waiting hands and eager classrooms. We’ve been floored by your response and can’t wait to bring you even more in the new year!

Top Courses

  1. Dystopian Literature

  2. Writing the College Application Essay

  3. Five-Paragraph Essay

Math Shack

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When we were looking at our Test Prep resources, we realized we wanted to make them even more fun and useful. The answer to this realization? Math Shack, an auto-generating, endless math game where you can master topics and gain Shmoints (and, most importantly, glory). We’re rolling it out into a lot more of our test prep, but those of you who have used our SAT and ACT are already active users and dare we say lovers of the Math Shack.

ShmoopTube

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Your love of our new ShmoopTube makes us think that this moving pictures business might actually become a thing. With hundreds of videos for Test Prep, Literature, Math, History, and much, much more, ShmoopTube has become your favorite place to get your funny fix.

Top Lit Videos

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  1. The Rocking Horse Winner

  2. To Kill a Mockingbird Quotes

  3. Beowulf

Top Math Videos

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  1. Rational/Irrational Numbers

  2. Proving Triangles Congruent

  3. Adding and Subtracting Fractions and Decimals

APs

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This year we finished putting up test prep for every single AP exam. That’s right: whether you wanted to take AP Music Theory or AP Computer Science, Shmoop had the goods. As the AP standards continue to change, you can rely on Shmoop to have your back and give you resources you can trust.

Top APs

  1. AP US History

  2. AP World History

  3. AP Biology

Common Core

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Much like Baby Fish Mouth, the Common Core is sweeping the nation. And given the popularity of our Common Core Resources, you are well off to a great start when it comes to implementing them in the new year. Next year we’ll be breaking down even more Common Core Standards—middle school math, here we come!—so stay tuned.

Did your favorite Shmoop not make the list? Share with us in the comments what you love about Shmoop and what you hope to see in the future. We might just make your dreams come true in 2014!

Who Shmoop’s NOT Inviting to Thanksgiving Dinner This Year

Shmoop counts down the 10 most ungrateful literary characters who are persona non grata for this year’s Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving is a time to put aside all of your familial angst in the name of deliciousness, but after a hard day in the kitchen, Shmoop isn’t about to share with anyone who can’t spare a compliment to the chef.

Since Shmoop prefers its dinners to be low-drama and its guests thankful, here is Shmoop’s list of literary characters who will not be getting an invite this year. Shmoop’s ranked them from 10—allowed in if they bring a green bean casserole—to 1—never allowed in, even with a gourmet brined turkey. No offense, guys. It’s just that Peeta Mellark can both bake bread and say, “Thank you.” Maybe next year!

Ron Weasley

10.     Ron Weasley, Harry Potter

 Every year, Ron Weasley got a new sweater for Christmas, and every year he complained about it, ignoring all the hard work his mom put into creating a gift that would protect him from the chill of snow, if not dementors. Ron would be the kid at Thanksgiving dinner feeding his mom’s sweet potato pie to the dog under the table. No wonder Mrs. Weasley seemed to prefer Harry Potter; at least Harry was appreciative of her knitting exploits.

9.     The Trojans, The Aeneid

After years and years of war against the Greeks, the Trojans woke up one morning to see the Greeks gone and in their place, a beautiful wooden statue of a horse outside their walls. The Trojans were ecstatic to finally win, but were still suspicious of the giant wooden horse. Of course, all it took was a little convincing by a Greek spy and the Trojans brought the horse into their city. Once inside the walls, the horse burst open with Greek soldiers who burned Troy to the ground. Needless to say, the Trojans weren’t very thankful for their gift from the Greeks. Maybe one should look a gift horse in the mouth.

8.     Milo, The Phantom Tollbooth

After a hard day in the number mines, the citizens of Digitopolis like to get their fill of Subtraction Soup. The generous people they are, they even shared this delectable dish with total foreigner Milo. Milo, however, was completely unappreciative of this kind gesture and just started complaining that the soup made him hungrier instead of more full. That put the Digitopolians in a tough spot as they had to explain their completely sensical custom of eating until they’re no longer full. Milo should have known better: when in Digitopolis, do as the Digitopolians do.

7. Ender Wiggin, Ender’s Game

Ender spent the entirety of Ender’s Game talking about how he was going to end the war against the Buggers. When he finally did end the war, though, he started crying about how he didn’t end the war in the right way. Hey, Ender, you gotta remember: the ends justify the means. And Buggers certainly can’t be choosers.

 

6.     King Lear, King Lear

First rule of parenting: don’t ask children how much they love their parents. King Lear clearly missed this memo. When he asked his three daughters how much they loved him, his first two (arguably straight-up evil) daughters answered with lavish purple praise, while his youngest (and legit good) daughter tempered her response with reality. King Lear was so incensed by her honesty that he banished her. Talk about being ungrateful for getting what he asked for.

5.     Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfield, the original emo teenager, wanted new ice skates, but when his mom finally got them for him, it turned out she bought him hockey skates instead of racing skates. Maybe next time, Holden will be a little clearer about what he wants—although, if the rest of the book is any indication, probably not.

4.     Jason, Medea

So Medea doesn’t quite get a pass here—murdering your kids? Total no-go—but Jason was probably the worst baby daddy known to man. First he seduced Medea to get her to betray her dad and help him succeed in his quest. He promised her that if she helped him secure the golden fleece, he’d marry her and be with her forever. She was so convinced by his charm that she killed her own brother to prevent her dad from capturing her new boyfriend. But what did Jason do to thank Medea? He broke up with her (after they already had kids together!) so he could marry the Princess of Corinth. There’s a reason why Medea is the ultimate woman scorned.

3. Edmund Pevensie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Pre-Aslan Edmund was the worst possible guest you could ever have. He was a jerk to his siblings and made fun of the kindly Professor who took them in. His sister Lucy introduced him to a magical land called Narnia and instead of thanking her, he told everyone she was making it up. When all the siblings were transported to Narnia, he turned against them by siding with the White Witch just so he could stuff his face with more Turkish delight. Pre-Aslan Edmund would basically be the one staying at home eating all the mashed potatoes while his siblings were helping out at a food kitchen.

 2.     Everyone Except Charlie Bucket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 Given that there were only five golden tickets to visit the elusive Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, you’d think that the lucky ticket holders would understand how privileged they were to get the inside scoop. Nope! Other than our protagonist Charlie Bucket, they were all entitled snobs who thankfully ended up getting their just desserts.

1. Oliver, Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist is the poster child for ungratefulness. His catchphrase is literally, “Please, sir, I want some more.” Leave a little turkey for everyone else, eh?

Know another literary character who should be stuck out in the cold this Thanksgiving? Share with us in the comments!

Shmoop Launches New Educational Video Platform Called ShmoopTube

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Shmoop, a digital curriculum and test prep company, is launching ShmoopTube, a brand-new, innovative portal for educational and hilarious videos. ShmoopTube improves upon and replaces the gone-but-not-forgotten Shmoopsterpiece Theater.

Shmoop has created a one-of-a-kind video platform for its growing video content. Featuring hundreds of educational videos with a humorous bent on every subject including math, history, literature, and test prep, ShmoopTube helps teachers incite class discussions and students better understand tough concepts.

ShmoopTube

ShmoopTube’s user-friendly design expands and innovates upon the previous video platform, Shmoopsterpiece Theater.

ShmoopTube highlights its entertaining videos in an intuitive user-experience which makes it easier and better to use than ever. New features include:

  • Better Tagging. With videos catalogued by subject (e.g. “English”) and subtopics (e.g. “Elementary Algebra”), it’s a breeze to browse and search for the exact video needed to clarify classroom concepts.

  • Better Search Feature. Shmoop’s new search feature is better than ever. Its recommendation engine matches video titles and keywords to a list of potential videos that viewers might be interested in.

  • Playlists. Shmoop has also put together hand-picked playlists in case teachers and students are looking for a crash course in algebra or get a illuminating immersion in American history.

  • Universal Design for Learning Features. Shmoop is also making great strides with incorporating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) measures in order to accommodate all kinds of learners. Shmoop remains committed to providing the best resources to every type of student. In that vein, ShmoopTube features videos in Spanish for ESL students, and also has transcripts for hearing-impaired students.

  • Related Videos. Just finished learning how to solve equations using addition and subtraction? ShmoopTube is there to help students take learning to the next level with Related Videos, which will suggest similar videos that will help students master any topic.

Shmoop will continue to evolve its ShmoopTube with the speed of the Internet and will soon also launch an even more personalized viewing experience. In the coming months, users should watch for new features, like ways to organize their favorite videos on ShmoopTube.

The new ShmoopTube is available for any screen except sunscreen–including computer, mobile phones, and iPads—and can be viewed by its admirers here.