Mobile devices like tablets and smartphones are making life for college students easier with every passing year. While they don’t replace hard work, apps can make study time more productive and efficient. Today we look at five iPad (and iPad mini) apps—many of which work on iPhone and Android—that are indispensible tools for getting and keeping a good grade point average.
Best Study Apps for College Students
Dropbox: Free (paid subscription upgrade available), iOS universal/Android
Dropbox is like having your own hard drive in the cloud, one you can share with other students. Dropbox allows you to quickly import/export all kinds of files—from notes, word documents and PDFs to photos, video and music, even full-blown presentations—to and from all your mobile devices and your computer with ease. Dropbox allows for endless folder creation to keep subjects separate and easy to find, and files can be shared with anyone else that uses the app. If you miss a class and need to borrow someone’s notes, or you are collaborating on a group project, you get the information you need without even leaving your dorm room. You get 2GB storage for free, and if you need more, subscriptions are available starting at $9.99/month. I’ve been using Dropbox for work for years and have always found the free space sufficient.
Notability – Take Notes & Annotate PDFs with Dropbox & Google Drive Sync: $1.99, iPad Only
There are tons of great note-taking apps that allow you to use your iPad (or iPad mini) just like a regular paper notebook. I love Noteshelf (iPad only, $5.99), if handwriting with a stylus and having lots of individual notebooks are all you need. For a full-featured note-taking app that allows for hand written or typed entries, along with PDF annotation, Notability is a virtual Swiss army knife of note-taking tools. It includes word processing for typed notes, media insertion for adding photos, drawings and even video to your notes and one really fantastic feature: Linked Audio Recordings. Not only does this app record your lectures, it also syncs them with your written notes so with a tap on a word you can jump to the exact point in a lecture that you want to review. Both Notability and Noteshelf have lots of export options, including integration with Dropbox.
iStudiez Pro: $2.99 iOS, Universal/Mac
Keeping organized can be daunting if you are carrying a full course load, especially around exam time, but iStudiez Pro is designed specifically for college students to help keep things simple. A calendar, planner and homework tracker in one, iStudiez lets you add your entire class schedule including class locations and professor and T.A. contact information. Then the app helps you keep track of your assignments, papers and exams. There are several graphic calendar views, push notifications for study reminders, and the app helps you calculate your GPA as your test and paper results start to come in. What I like best is that the app has a built-in sync function, so if you use the Mac version ($9.99) along with your mobile device, all your information stays up-to-date across devices.
StudyBlue: Free (paid subscription upgrade available), iOS Universal/Android
For Android and iOS users StudyBlue is the superlative flash card app for serious students. You’ll want to create an account on StudyBlue’s website and then you can make your own cards easily, or share cards with friends who use the app or website. This app doesn’t just drill you, it provides statistical feedback on your progress. With the use of Study Filters you can focus easily on trouble spots and important areas of study for extra practice. There are reminders, it’s easy to search for specific cards, and the ability to message classmates who use the app to ask questions is a great perk if you can get your friends to sign up and download StudyBlue, too.
Kno Textbooks: Free with In-App Purchases for Textbooks, iPad/Android
Most of us pre-digital age grads remember our college backpacks being stretched to the point of seams ripping and our backs aching with the weight and volume of the textbooks we needed to lug around campus. And the expense of purchasing all those hardcover books was staggering. Now students can benefit from digital textbooks with apps like Kno Textbooks. Kno has a pretty vast catalog—some 200,000 titles and growing—and they are not only weightless and often much less expensive that traditional books, but they are enhanced with digital features to help make studying more engaging. The textbooks have videos, 3D models and web access, along with advanced search functions to make finding the information you are looking for a lot easier than flipping pages or pouring over an index. The app has social note sharing capabilities, is a PDF reader, and has Dropbox integration.
Need a new tablet to be able to use these cool apps? Check out reviewers’ picks for best tablets for students.
Lisa Caplan writes extensively about streaming services, apps, games and how to use technology to improve lives. She’s editor-in-chief of AppTudes and also regularly contributes to the app review website, Appolicious. Lisa is based in Montreal.