Study Apps 101: The Best Study Tools for You

By Amanda Cohen on March 19, 2018

Studying is hard, time-consuming, and one of those activities that most everyone hates. However, it is a necessary evil and, regardless of what university you go to and what stage you are at in your life, you will need to study and you will probably need help, unless you’re Wonder Woman. Help goes so far beyond just visiting your professors, hiring tutors, and going to study groups. Sometimes you need help when you are studying on your own because that’s usually the time it is most difficult to focus.

In all my years of college, it’s safe to say that I’ve used multiple study apps at a time, even if I wasn’t studying for an exam. I want to help people and tell them what study apps to use. Full disclosure, not every single app on this list is an app that can help you with vocabulary or formulas, some of these apps are here to make sure you stay on track, organized, and focused. If this sounds intriguing, read on!


Quizlet has to be first on the list for a few reasons: (1) it’s been around forever and (2) it’s one of the most effective study tools ever created. I know that this is a bold claim, but I have personal information to prove it. I started using Quizlet when I was in middle school and I still continue to use it in college.

So, what exactly is Quizlet? Quizlet is a website/app that allows you to create different study sets using flashcards. These flashcards can go so beyond just word definitions, you can create them for diagrams (yes, you can add photos), math equations, true/false questions, and more. Once you’ve created the set, you can either make the set private to you, or you can select options to either share them with anyone, or to only share them with certain people.

If you are reading this and thinking that flashcards never worked for you, I promise that Quizlet is different because you can use them to study in a way that you can’t with traditional flashcards. They give you a few different options to study: (1) learn, (2) flashcards, (3) write, (4) spell, (5) test, (6) match, and (7) gravity. Each of these seven study tools range from your typical study experience to fun games to help you learn and understand the material.

Quizlet even tracks your stats on how well you are understanding the material, and the website will give you tips on how to best prepare for a specific exam. Practice makes perfect, and even though that’s not Quizlet’s official philosophy, it’s my philosophy for them because all of their study methods truly abide by this model and it will help you learn your study materials.


XMind is a mind-mapping app that can be used on both your phone and computer. XMind allows its users to create maps of ideas, terms, equations, images, video, and basically anything else your heart desires. If you are a highly visual learner and appreciate the site of a board with string-connected various ideas, then this app is for you; people have even gone as far as saying that XMind is “the most popular mind mapping software on the planet.” Unlike Quizlet, XMind doesn’t give you study games, but it allows for you to create and formulate your ideas efficiently, effectively, and in a way that ensures that the ideas will stick in your head (aka a necessity for any study tool you may use).

Even though XMind is extremely popular, the pricing is a bit strange. It is free to download on your smartphone, but if you want it on your computer and if you want all of the different features, it costs $27.99. Even though this may sound expensive, if you are a visual learner and/or if you are taking classes that involve a lot of writing, the price is probably worth it. For example, if you know that your exam for a class will be a series of essays, but you don’t know exactly what the prompts will be yet, XMind will allow you to create scenarios for any potential writing prompt that could be thrown at you. Not only are you studying as you are making the mind map, but you are also studying afterward when you save the mind map to your phone or computer. If you learn visually you should really see if XMind’s price is worth it, especially if you are taking multiple classes in which this app can be useful.


iStudiez is a different type of study app. Not only does this app allow you to create notes and study guides, it also helps to ensure that you stay on top of your assignments and studies in a way that a planner or your computer calendar can’t possibly imagine. The app has a variety of features, first of which is an interactive calendar that helps you keep track of all of your assignments and sends you reminders about the due date and your overall progress in finishing the assignment.

The next part of the app is the notes portion. Basically, the notes portion is similar to taking notes on Microsoft Word, but it allows you to collaborate with other students. If you are disorganized, iStudiez keeps your notes in folders and constantly backs up your work so that you won’t ever lose your information. Lastly, iStudiez helps you keep track of your progress in a class by simply entering the weight of each different type of assignment and then the final grade you receive on the assignment. This shows your progress and it even will give you notifications on where you should seek some extra help in order to improve.

iStudiez can be synced to multiple devices, which is great because each device will remind you of the tasks you need to complete. The app also caters to all different types of learners by offering graphics, typed out text, videos, etc. However, if you want to get the most out of this app, download and use it from the beginning to the end of the semester so that you are never cramming for exams or freaking out because you just can’t seem to remember that you have an 8:30 am organic chemistry lab on Thursdays. Take advantage of the app’s many features by downloading it from the app store today! Even though it’s not all free, it’s definitely worth it, especially if you are currently struggling in your classes.

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StudyBlue is a website/app in which you can create notecards and study guides. It isn’t anything fancy, but it is definitely extremely helpful when preparing for an exam. Not only do you have the ability to create your own study guides and flashcards, but you can also input your university name and a specific course to see if anyone else has created anything for a class you are taking. However, this feature is only available to those who pay for premium, which is only $7 a month! If you are looking through old quizzes and realize that you got something wrong and don’t know why, you can even copy and paste that quiz question into the StudyBlue search engine and it will give you (if available) the answers to that question posted by other students.

The beauty of StudyBlue is that you can either use it as an application or directly access it online. If you are willing to pay the extra $7-$10 for premium, I highly recommend it because StudyBlue is also extremely helpful for everyday homework assignments. StudyBlue also has a feature called “Homework Help” in which you can directly ask any question and they can help you retrieve the simplest and most accurate answers. The example given on their website shows a person asking “What are the stages of mitosis” and the app came up with the written-out stages as well as visuals to answer the question (aka, StudyBlue caters to every type of learner there is).


StudyBuddy basically offers exactly what it says in the title: a study buddy! Basically, StudyBuddy is an online tutoring system in which you can find a tutor and work with them from the comforts of your own bed. All you have to do is create an account and boom, you’re all set to start working with someone. If you are having trouble with calculus, all you have to do is type in the course name and then you can select a tutor either from your university or some other university around the world! It sounds too good to be true I know, but the tutors online are those who volunteer and want to tutor, so you know that they are willing to put in the extra time with you so you can succeed.

Each session comes with a blank whiteboard to write on, a chat section so that you can virtually talk to your tutor, and an automatic save option so that you can save your session and review it as many times as you need to in order to do well on your exams. If you are concerned about your tutor giving you the wrong information, I want to ease your concerns with a direct message from the StudyBuddy website: “All student tutors are honor students who are members of Mu Alpha Theta or recommended by their teachers.” Not only do your tutors want to be there, but they are carefully selected (aka not just any student can become a tutor). These tutors are well-seasoned and, since they are students, they understand the stress of school and will work with you in a way so that you don’t ever feel like they are your superiors.


RescueTime is a computer time software that helps you track your activity on certain websites. It runs a security test on your computer so that it can see what your daily computer habits are like and then it gives you a rundown of where you are spending your time when you are on the computer. This is a great software to have while you’re studying because you can set it up so that it gives you alerts on when you should be entering a website or when you should probably shutoff a website. For example, if you spend too much time on Facebook while studying, set up the software so that it alerts you when you’ve spent two hours on Facebook, or however long you want the timing to be set for.

The software will always give you a rundown of your time on the computer, but it can also be used to block websites you want to avoid while studying (for me, I would use it to block any and all clothing websites). You can also use it as a way to improve your time writing e-mails or your time in meetings; it helps you use your time efficiently and effectively. Even though RescueTime isn’t going to help you create study guides, it will help you stay focused and keep your priorities straight, which is equally important as actually creating notecards and other study tools.

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Studying is hard, especially when you try to do everything on your own without asking for help. I am telling you, as a senior, that these apps are integral to college students’ academic success. Even if an app costs some money, try and budget your expenses so that you can purchase that app because it’s worth it and your academics are extremely important. Hold yourself accountable but use these apps to aid you in all of your academic ventures.

Whether you need to write an essay, study for an exam, memorize math equations, or learn a new language, these apps can help you. However, in order for these apps to help you, you need to put in the time and effort as well; apps are just a tool to help you, they aren’t going to do the work for you. Good luck and happy studying!

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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