Best Apps for Students

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Nothing says school is back in session like the reappearance of heavy textbooks, caffeine binges and abnormal sleep cycles. Armed with your smartphone and/or tablet and the right apps, you won't have to suffer through all-nighters and midterm exams alone.

According to a 2015 study conducted by McGraw-Hill Education, 77 percent of students reported that using tablets and smartphones has helped improve their grades, and 62 percent said that tech helps them feel more prepared for class. Here is our roundup of apps that will help you navigate the fine line between productivity and procrastination. 

Evernote (free; iOS, Apple Watch, Android, Windows)

Evernote has long been one of the most popular note-taking apps, but recent updates give users even more to love. The clean, uncomplicated interface makes it perfect for students — you can take notes, make to-do lists, set reminders, attach files, create agendas and access everything through any device. Evernote doesn't have a storage limit, but free users are limited to an upload limit of 60 MB per month. You also have to turn on push notifications to sync all your notes when the app isn't running. The camera feature is especially helpful, letting you save any photo, document, Post-it note or business card.

Dropbox Mobile (free; iOS, Android, Windows)

As a student, you save, send and lose a lot of files — usually in the depths of your inbox. The free Dropbox Mobile app lets you store and share up to 2GB of documents, photos and videos in one secure location. It's easy to add notes to files you want to share, too, which is ideal for when your group project seems to be taking forever. Recently, Dropbox partnered with Microsoft so that users can edit Microsoft Office files directly from their mobile phones and save them to their Dropbox accounts.

You should also keep an eye on Dropbox Paper, a collaboration platform that allows multiple people to edit the same document. 

WolframAlpha ($2.99; iOS, Android, Windows)

Dubbed the "Star Trek computer," the $2.99 Wolfram Alpha app holds more than 10 trillion pieces of data and 50,000 equations. The app uses these to compute answers and generate reports on topics ranging from trigonometry and astronomy to genealogy and mythology. It provides you with graphs, step-by-step explanations and formula details. Meet your new know-it-all best friend, which also happens to help power Apple's Siri.

EasyBib (free; iOS, Android)

EasyBib takes over one of the most time-consuming parts of writing a research paper — the bibliography. This app helps you format your list of references in more than 7,000 citation styles (who even knew 7,000 styles existed?), including the most common APA and MLA formats. Just type in the name of the book and EasyBib gives you several options to choose from and then makes a citation for you. EasyBib has a website that does the job just as well, but with the app you can take a picture of a book's bar code and generate a citation for it.

My Study Life (free; iOS, Android, Windows)

The free My Study Life app replaces any paper planner by keeping track of your workload across multiple platforms and devices. Manage your classes with week and day timetables, keep track of tasks and exams in the cloud and receive notifications to keep you up to date with exam schedules and classes. A clean interface and the ability to color code your classes make the calendar easy to read.

Microsoft Office Mobile (free; iOS, Android, Windows)

This app is a no-brainer. Microsoft Office Mobile lets you access, edit and share all of your Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on your Android and iOS devices. If you want to start your homework and don't have a laptop handy, you can create new Word and Excel documents straight from your phone. 

Mint (free; iOS, Android)

In the midst of pulling all-nighters and juggling extracurriculars, budgeting is often the last thing on your mind — which is probably why you find your funds completely nonexistent more often than not. Mint is a money-managing app that helps you create a budget, track your spending and even calculate your credit score. Best of all, it's free. Consider this the equivalent of $3 more to spend on late-night pizza slices. 

Scribd ($8.99/month iOS, Android, Windows)

Scribd is essentially the Netflix of books — whether you are a bibliophile or just need textbooks for your lit class, Scribd's supply of more than 1 million books, audiobooks and documents is well worth its $8.99 monthly fee. Most recently, Scribd added 10,000 comics and graphic novels to its subscription service from such publishers as Marvel, Archie and IDW. The app recommends titles based on ones you liked in the past and lets you store books to read offline across your phone, tablet and computer.

Sleep Time (free; iOS, Android)

Getting the right amount of sleep is essential for students. You won't get a good grade on that test in zero period without going through at least a few decent REM cycles. Using sleep science research, Sleep Time analyzes your sleep stages and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase, giving you a night of peaceful rest. You can set a 30-minute window for when the app can wake you up. The app analyzes how a stressful day or late-night caffeine affects your sleep cycle, and tracks your sleep quality over time and presents the data to you in graphs, which can then be exported to Excel. 

MORE: 12 Best iOS Apps You're Not Using (But Should Be)

Tiny Scanner (free; iOS, Android)

Tiny Scanner is ideal for making sure your handwritten class notes are at least legible enough to send to a classmate. This app uses the camera on your phone or tablet to scan documents and export them into PDFs that you can email or save to your camera roll. You can also crop and color-correct your images before you export them into PDFs.

Yahoo News Digest (free; iOS, Apple Watch, Android)

For students who are always on the go, the Yahoo News Digest app could be a lifesaver. This free, simple app delivers the top stories of the day to you in two digests; once in the morning and once at night, at times you specify. The stories — complete with photos, colorful quotes and videos — are listed clearly on the home page where you can easily scroll through all your options and click on those you want to read in-depth. 

Scholly: Scholarship Search (free; iOS, Android, Kindle Fire)

Shark Tank winner Christopher Gray developed this app so that high school, college and graduate students could easily access more ways to pay for college. Gray himself won $1.3 million in scholarships to pay for his degree. No loans for him. Use this app to follow his lead. The free version of Scholly gives tips for how to win scholarships and showcases past winning essays. To get full access to curated lists of scholarships without ads and the scholarship search function, you'll have to purchase a Scholly account in-app for $2.99. But for the promise of potentially free tuition? I'd say it's worth it. 

Vocabulary Builder from Magoosh (free; iOS, Android)

Abrogate. Schadenfreude. Iridocyclitis. Vocabulary Builder from Magoosh is the best vocabulary app to test yourself for the SAT, TOEFL or GRE. After all, vocabulary does make up a good third of these tests. You can quiz yourself at different levels of difficulty on 1,200 of the most important vocabulary words, picked by expert tutors. Choose the best definition for each word, and if you don't get some right, the app repeats those until you master them. This free app also lets you choose to battle against a random user. 

Complete Student Pack ($6.99; iOS)

If you need some help in math or science, this iOS bundle is here to help. With the iMathematics Pro, iPhysics Pro and iChemistry Pro, you can study more than 210 topics and 1,500 formulas. These apps come with seven calculators, a unit converter and more than 200 quizzes to test you on your progress. Solved examples and links to Wikipedia help you understand the problems you are studying. Jump to the head of the class with the help of this $6.99 bundle, designed for the iPhone and iPad. 

Quizlet (free; iOS, Android)

If you aren't already an active Quizlet user, this app will turn you into a digital flashcards devotee. Just like the Quizlet website, the app allows you to search through thousands of sets of flashcards other users have made and to create sets of your own. With each set, you can play games such as Scatter and Gravity as well as test your memory with multiple-choice sample tests generated by the app.  

PhotoMath (free; iOS, Android, Windows)

Photomath is a brilliant, free app built to end your suffering over math problems for hours on end. Point your phone's camera at a math problem, and the app will both answer the problem and show you a step-by-step explanation. The only downside to this app is that it does not answer handwritten problems — only those appearing in a textbook. It also doesn't answer more advanced math problems, but fraction, linear, decimal and logarithm equations are fair game. Is it cheating? Maybe. 

Forest (free; iOS, Android, Windows)

Forest is the cutest app designed to keep you focused and free from time-consuming distractions. The app lets you digitally "plant" a tree for every distraction-free time period you spend focusing on work or studying. If you navigate out of the app while your timer is still running, your tree withers away. Each tree is added to your digital "forest," which you can easily share with friends via social media to humblebrag about your unmatched focus for the day. Over time you accumulate points, which you can use to buy different varieties of trees or even put toward planting an actual IRL tree.

Chegg ($14.99; iOS, Android)

When it comes to all questions textbook-related, Chegg has your answer. Just like its website, the Chegg app offers information about textbook sales and rentals and provides access to textbook problem solutions. The Chegg Tutor app can be downloaded separately and connects you with live tutoring help to answer any killer homework questions at any hour of the day. Both apps require a Chegg membership, which comes in at $14.99 per month.  

Coffitivity (free; iOS, Android)

Sometimes camping out on the silent floor of the library can make you feel a little loopy, but listening to your music is too distracting. Coffitivity is a free app that loops ambient coffee shop-inspired background noise that, weirdly, makes you feel much more productive. 

Indeed Job Search (iOS, Android, Windows)

What's the point of all that studying if you can't pay back your student loans? With the free Indeed Job Search app, you can browse listings, create a resume and apply for full-time, part-time and freelance jobs on the go. Finding a gig is as easy as typing in what kind of job you want and where you want it through Indeed's clean user interface. You can also save and email your favorite job postings, follow companies to get the latest updates and have new job postings delivered to your inbox. Indeed has a database of more than 15 million jobs, so there are plenty of opportunities for students and recent graduates.

Add a comment
10 comments
  • Julianne V Sloane Says:

    Lots of really helpful apps on this list! Two other ones come to mind that might made sense for amending in the future. 1. Splittable: www.splittable.co - Free app for splitting shared expenses with housemates and 2. Wunderlist: https://www.wunderlist.com/ lets you collaborate on creating lists for projects and other to dos.

  • Elephan Says:

    What about My Study Life?.. Thought that would be at least up there.

  • Chris Catris Says:

    Oh man, where was this article when I was in school! Really great article, thanks for sharing.

  • Nickolas Chong Says:

    Being a student in the states I think Venmo is my life saving app when I am out with my friends splitting bill. In addition, there is this new app called Getmii that I use to post anything I need and it will broadcast my needs to people around me. Being an international student in Boston, it's really helpful and I have been getting a lot of help in information seeking, student related advice, etc...

  • Jinjuta Says:

    VERY USEFUL LIST! Thanks for the article ;-)

    But what about Getmii! This app is so useful for teenagers and students like us. It's a location-based app that gets me just about everything i need through exchanging with other people. I most of the time use it to look for ideas for new and cool spots in town to hang out with friends. I think people can buy and sell stuff here as well.

  • Dale Strauss Says:

    You missed the best free app out there - OneNote from Microsoft. A steeper learning curve than Evernote, but it takes freehand notes that can be searched without converting to text; incorporate documents and pdf directly in your notes for annotating; web clipping; lists; calendar integration; sync across all operating systems, including mobile.

  • pankaj Says:

    there is app for maths students on windows store that does step by step differentiation. May be it is helpful to university students.

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/apps/symbolarc/9nblggh5x031

  • Nagesh Says:

    Thanks for sharing this article.Was searching the similar contents on google for case study.Thank you so much.

  • Eldad Says:

    what about Enjoon for Android. It's the best app today to find other students who share common interests around you.

  • PJ Says:

    Surprised to see Marks++ app not on the list. Its an amazing app, truly a masterpiece. From Calc, To Dictionary, From Exam timers to Formulae Bank, And Question Paper Generation. WOWOW. what else do I need? Must have.

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