6 Star Wars Facts for May the 4th

Hi, Shmoopers,

It’s May 4th, which means Star Wars fans across the galaxy are hashtagging like crazy: #maythefourthbewithyou. But what about the people who’ve never found the fifteen-and-a-half hours to watch all seven Star Wars movies? Worry, do not. We’ve got you covered. These facts will impress even your friends who wear shirts that say “Han Shot First.”

Trigger Happy

What did we mean by “Han Shot First”? One of the most contentious debates in the Star Wars universe is “Who Shot First?” Not an Abbott & Costello routine, but an argument about who pulled the trigger in a bar fight: Han Solo or Greedo the Bounty Hunter. In the 1977 cut, Han Solo shoots Greedo from under the table without giving the bounty hunter warning or a chance to fight back. In the George Lucas-ified Special Editions, Greedo shoots first and Han’s blast is in self-defense. Discuss.

Ewok to Remember

Most of the Ewoks’ speech is based on Kalmuck, a Chinese tribal language. The rest is Tagalog, a language spoken primarily in the Philippines. If you understood what those furry little guys were saying, congrats—your Tagalog and Kalmuck are coming along nicely.

No Hope

Star Wars came out in 1977 and was retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1978, when George Lucas envisioned sequels and prequels for his galactic universe. Considering the first prequel, The Phantom Menace, would be released twenty-one years later, that’s pretty impressive planning. Type A much?

Grandpa Luke?

Luke Skywalker went through several changes while Lucas drafted Star Wars. At different points of the writing process, Luke was a girl, a 65-year-old military general, and a guy by the name of Luke Starkiller. Hardly an appropriate name for a peace-loving Jedi.

Harrison Ford Strikes Back

Although it went on to become one of the Star Wars series’ most iconic lines, Han Solo’s “I know” wasn’t part of the script: it was improvised by actor Harrison Ford who was unsatisfied with the written line, a simple “I love you, too.” We like to think he was saving the ILY for us. #ashmoophope

Say Cheese

The squelchy noises Jabba the Hutt makes when he moves were created by a sound tech running his fingers through a cheese casserole. That makes Jabba the Pizza Hutt sound a lot less appetizing.

Now get back to studying for APs. Regardless of what Yoda says, there is try.

Quote of the Week

“May the force be with you.”

~ Star Wars


Top 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Graduate

Greetings, soon-to-be grads!

You’ve learned a lot in high school, but there are still a few nuggets left to digest. Allow us to hit you with a good ‘ol list.

1. Not registering = not taking the test.

The last day to register for the SAT and SAT subject exams is in a few short days, so get to it. Remember: you can’t win if you don’t play.

2. There’s still time!

ACT, Texas EOC Asssessments, Florida EOC Assessments, and CAHSEE still have test dates before next school year. Translation: you’re not off the hook.

3. Graduation is a great time for fashion.

Your gown might make you look like a sheep, but if you get creative with what’s underneath it, at least you’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing…or something like that.

4. Dr. Seuss is just as deep as Derrida.

Don’t let that diploma go to your head. Remember to thank the little people—or at least the people who were there when you were little. Dr. Seuss, we love you. (You too, Derrida.)

5. The Graduate is about a college graduate.

Just don’t get your hopes up.

6. You have options.

If you aren’t heading to college, there are plenty of careers out there for you, from professional golfer to repo man. And then some.

7. A gap year doesn’t mean a year of TV marathons.

You can use a gap year to volunteer, explore different cultures, or even try your hand at the real world. Just remember—it’s good to have a plan for when that year is over.

8. Math actually is useful.

Just saying.

9. You have at least one thing in common with Einstein.

He graduated from high school, too. We’re guessing you have more in common with him than just that, though. Hopefully it’s your haircut.

10. Shmoop isn’t just for high schoolers.

We’re here for you, no matter which path you take: college (even real college credit), job, or just stuffing dollar bills under your mattress.

So close…

Quote of the Week

“My only plan after graduation was to become a full time gunter.”

~ Ready Player One

What’s your only plan after graduation, gunter?
Tell us on Facebook or Twitter. #ShmoopGrads

Shmoop on NBC

Hi Shmoopers,

We’re famous! For more on the Shmoop scoop, check out this time when Shmoop founder, David Siminoff, talked to NBC about Shmoop: how we came to be, what we’re all about, and where we’re heading.

And he did it all sporting a Dr. Seuss tie.

David gave us loads of sound bites to choose from, but here’s one of our favorites:

We actually empower students to read more. The goal is for them to actually study more and to love the literature the way we do.

Sing it, Siminoff.

In honor of David’s love of books, we’re giving all you lovely Shmoopers an easy way to find a new favorite book. Looking for a suggestion? Our founder’s fave is Finnegan’s Wake.

Keep on Shmoopin’,

Quote of the Week

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

~ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

You do have brains in your head, Shmooper.

5 Foolproof* Ways to Score a 5 on Your AP Exams

Hey, Shmoopers,

‘Tis the season to be panicky: yep, we’re talking about AP® Season. Things get started soon, which means you have just enough time to get your act together.

5 Foolproof* Ways to Score

a 5 on Your AP Exams

1. Make Educated Guesses on Multiple-Choice Questions

There’s no penalty for incorrect answers on AP multiple-choice questions, so even if a particular question is so confusing that it may as well be written in Akkadian, don’t leave the answer blank. Eliminate any choices that are obviously wrong, and then give it your best shot.

2. Zoom in and Zoom Out

No matter which exam you’re taking, you’re going to want to think big picture and…small picture. Sure, for AP World, you’ll want to know which empire was in power in East Asia in 618 CE, but you’ll also want to think about broader themes of history, patterns of change, or how different areas of the world relate to each other. Ditto for Biology, English Lang, Comp Gov…the list goes on.

3. Think Outside the Box

Turns out critical thinking is an actual thing. A thing that will help you thrive in college and in your career. And a thing that will help you ace any AP exam. If you’re not sure how to tackle a short answer question or an essay or a DBQ, start with some non-judgmental brainstorming. Like Forrest says, you never know what you’re gonna get.

4. Use Shmoop’s Test Prep

Uh…duh? If you don’t already have a license, subscribe to Shmoop for less than $1/day and get access to prep for literally every single AP exam on the market. Start by taking the diagnostic exam, and then read all the parts of the guide corresponding with your weakest areas. Next, focus on drills that match those weak areas. Two weeks before test day, take a practice exam. After you’ve inevitably missed a bunch of questions, read the parts of the guide that you skipped before, and test yourself by answering all the sample questions. With a week to go, revisit those areas that didn’t improve as much as you would have liked, drill like you’ve never drilled before, and take one last practice exam a few days before to (hopefully) boost your confidence.

5. Breathe

Seriously. In through your nose. Out through your mouth.

*Since you’re not a fool, there’s no guarantee.

You got this (and we got you),


Quote of the Week

“Nanu nanu.

Mork & Mindy 

When the sample questions start sounding like they’re from the planet Ork, it’s time to take a breather.

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

The Future of Earth Day: 8 New Celebrations That Are Out of This World

Hey, Shmoopers,

Earth Day—or Mirth Day, as we like to call it—is tomorrow. Started in 1970, Earth Day is meant to get everyone on board with saving the environment: planting trees, thinking about renewable energy, recycling our Oreo sleeves…all to delay our inevitable planetary extinction. 

While we were sitting in the dark conserving electricity, we imagined what celebratory days would look like on other planets…you know, if we aren’t able to save our own planet and end up colonizing the rest of ’em.

Mercury Day

Mercury Day will celebrate Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, inventor of the mercury thermometer. (Sorry, Hermes.) The mercury on Mercury moves from -279 F to 801 F, so pack a Snuggie and an ice pack when blasting off to our solar system’s innermost planet.

Venus Day

Venus Day will celebrate the Venus de Milo, and kids all over Venus will make arms for the statue. Popular materials for sculpting the statue’s replacement arms will include dust, dust, and…dust. Hey, Venus is a dry planet. You have to make do with what’s there.

Mars Day

We’ll celebrate Mars Day by eating the last remaining Mars chocolate bars, stored in an airtight container for millennia. Just be careful: we hear the planet is prone to war (of the chocolate variety). Remember: M&M’s melt in your mouth, not in Mars’ average temperature of -85 F.

Jupiter Day

The largest planet, Jupiter, is a gas giant (they didn’t call him king of the gods for nothing). When the time comes, we’ll celebrate Jupiter Day by adding to the volume of the planet—which is already 43,441 miles in diameter—after a hearty feast of beans, Brussels sprouts, and ice cream, washed down with apple juice for good measure.

Saturn Day

Saturn Day will involve singing a titanic ditty about the 29.45-year orbit of the planet called “The 10,759 Days of Saturn.” It’s done to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” except it takes a couple weeks to sing, and every verse involves a number of golden rings. 

Uranus Day

Uranus Day won’t be a thing. Why not? Because no one can say “Celebrate Uranus Day” without giggling. The whole thing will inevitably be outlawed early on.

Neptune Day

While we’d like to celebrate Neptune Day with a trip to the beach (it’s only appropriate), we’re worried that the massive winds on the planet would turn our umbrellas inside out. Oh, and the average temperature of -328 F also might have us singing a different…Neptune.

Pluto Day

Pluto has already informed us that there won’t be a Pluto Day. When humans try to colonize it, Pluto will blast us out of the sky before we land, never having forgiven humanity for declassifying it as a planet in 2006. Pluto knows how to hold a grudge, and revenge is a dish best served in the cold, cold depths of space.

Earth Day will mark its 50th anniversary in 2020, so do your part to make sure we’re still around to see it.


Quote of the Week

“They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.

~ Joni Mitchell

We wonder if you can pave stuff without gravity.

Animal Farm Quiz

Hey, Shmoopers,

Everyone’s read Animal Farm, right? If you haven’t, go ahead and do it. We’ll wait.

Okay, fully traumatized and convinced that pigs are going to take over the world? Great. Now we’re going to see how well you know your Animal Farm symbolism.

Take our quiz below to prove your Orwellian chops.

Test Your Animal Farm Know-How

What do each of the characters represent?

Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with the answers.

But there’s way more to Animal Farm than just that symbolism. In fact, there’s way more to all literature than just symbolism. With our short courses on novels, you can become the expert on any book you want from Catch-22 to The Handmaid’s Tale to The House on Mango Street.


Quote of the Week

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

~ Animal Farm

Uh, something’s not right.

The AP Seder Plate

Hey, Shmoopers,

We’re celebrating Passover…while we study for the APs that kick off in less than two weeks.

Modern Jews celebrate Passover with a Seder—a ceremonial dinner—which commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. During the Seder, the Seder plate holds various symbolic foodstuffs and plays a big part in the rituals.

So while we were procrastinating—er, getting hyped—we decided to see which APs would fit on the Seder plate. Here’s what we came up with.

The Shank Bone

The shank bone, which symbolizes the sacrifice the Israelites made the night before the exodus, represents last-minute cramming the night before the…exam. But unlike the shank bone, which you don’t eat, you’ll have to devour those APs.

The Egg

The roasted egg is meant to remind us of springtime and new beginnings (along with loads of other stuff). So we’d say egg duty on the AP Seder plate would be split between AP Chemistry and AP Environmental Science, which kick off exam week Monday at 8:00AM.

The Bitter Herbs

On the Seder plate, the bitter herbs (a.k.a. maror and hazeret) represent the bitterness of slavery. During AP season, AP Capstone represents the bitterness of the other exams when they heard that they could have had cool names like that, too. Sorry, “AP Physics 2: Algebra Based.”

The Charoset

The charoset (usually represented by fruit, cinnamon, and nuts…mmm) symbolizes the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to build stuff. In AP land, the honor goes to AP Computer Science. You may not be able to build pyramids with Java, but you can build websites…and a killer resume.

The Parsley

The parsley (a.k.a. karpas) gets dipped in salt water, representing, on the one side, the initial prosperity of the Israelites in Egypt, and on the other side, the tears of the Hebrew slaves. It’s the AP Comparative Government and Politics of the Seder plate.

Read up on your Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy for all the details on Passover (yeah, the Bible likes to repeat itself), and then get to studying. We hear matzah is good brain food.

Chag sameach,


Quote of the Week

“Let my people go.

~ Moses in Exodus

And while you’re at it, let them ace their AP exams…please?