A song by Baz Luhrmann which gives advice to the younger generation. It was originally written as a newspaper column by Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich, and somehow got onto the Internet with Kurt Vonnegut's name attached, supposedly a commencement speech he'd given. On Sunday, August 3, 1997, the Sunday Tribune printed a column of hers about the misattribution called "VONNEGUT? SCHMICH? WHO CAN TELL IN CYBERSPACE?."

My Calculus Teacher, as we prepared to take the AP Test, gave us a parody of this speech to help us in our studies. It was written by Lisa Pitts of Souderton High School.

Ladies and Gentlmen of the Calculus Class of '00. Believe in yourself.

If I could offer you only one tip for the AP test, Believing in yourself would be it. The long-term benefits of self confidence have been proven by scientists, Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your mind; oh nevermind; You will not trust the power and beauty of your mind until it has faded. But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now, how much possibility lay before you and how many opportunities were knocking at your door. You are NOT as slow as you imagine.

Don't worry about the test; or worry, but knowing that worrying is as effective as sleeping with your calculus book under your pillow. The real challenges on the test are apt to be terminology or situations that you aren't familiar with. There's nothing you can do other than come with an open mind and positive thoughts.


Trust your gut instincts.
Don't dwell on mistakes made in the past.
Learn from them.

Sharpen your pencils.

Don't waste time on problems you don't know; Don't was te your time showing antiderivatives, nor simplifying answers completely. The test is long, 3+ hours, and in the end it's only with yourself.

After all your preparation, remember to have your calculator in Radian mode. Keep 3 decimal places in your answers, unless they want money or people.


Don't feel guilty if you can't answer every question. The most interesting people I know don't know every formula, but can derive or reason through any problem. They have common sense.

Get plenty of Breakfast.

Be kind to your calculator batteries, you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll receive a 5, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll receive a 2, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll receive a 3 and retake the course in college learning even more. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either; Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's.

Enjoy your brain, use it every way you can, don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Be creative! Even if you are a math geek or enginerd. Take a moment to picture the problem. Reread if necessary. It's better to stumble than not to start. Do NOT read the directions; you've already seen them.

You have spent much time preparing. You have worked hard throughout your math courses. Continue to work hard this week. The pay-off may be great - it may save you money in college tuition next year.

Wear comfortable clothes.
Remember to shower.
You don't want to distract others as you take off your shoes.


It's OK to guess if you have narrowed down the choices to 2 or 3. You might be lucky.

Understand the concept geometrically and numerically, but leave it before it confuses you. Understand the concept analytically and justify it with f or f', but leave before you begin to write a dissertation.

Take a deep breath.

Use your calculator for three main concepts: To solve an equation, To find the derivatives at a point, Or to calculate the value of a definite integral. And when you do, be thankful of the time you are saving, as before 1995 all work was done by hand. Respect your calculators.

Don't expect anyone else to read your mind. Show all your work. Maybe you're gifted. Maybe you're a hard worker. Nevertheless, the grader doesn't know you. Write clearly and legibly. Support your work.

Be careful not to cram the night before, but instead get 8 hours of sleep. Dream of integrals and derivatives canceling each other out.

But trust me ... believe in yourself. I do.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.