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Whether you’re a high school, college or grad student, study tools can be expensive. With the cost of classes, books and supplies, adding in another resource like a private tutor or high-tech software can add up fast. Luckily, there are a number of online tools and phone applications that can help you make the most of your study time. And the best part? They’re either free or super cheap. This list has resources designed to help with things like creating bibliographies, taking notes and even getting up in the morning. Take a look!
Keeping notes organized in an easily accessible location is a great way to make studying easier. If traditional pen and paper notes aren’t your style, then these resources are for you.
Evernote is probably the most well-known app on this list. It’s a free service designed specifically for note taking, to-do lists and saving online information. It works on a number of different platforms, allowing you to access and edit your class notes wherever you are. However, the free service only syncs with two devices per account. A paid account allows for more devices.
If you’re a big fan of Google programs and are concerned with the two-device restriction of Evernote, then Google Keep may be the solution for you. It’s known for its simple, easy-to-use setup and its OCR feature, which lets you turn photos of documents into editable text. Google Keep doesn’t have as many features as Evernote and requires a Google account to use, but it does connect directly to Google Docs, which you can use to convert notes to PDF or Word files.
Online lectures are a great resource for anyone who wants to supplement class lectures and readings. They aren’t a substitute for going to class, but they’re a convenient way to brush up on forgotten material and to review what you’ve already learned.
Bozeman Science Videos
Created by educational consultant and YouTube creator Paul Anderson, the Bozeman video series covers a wide variety of science-related topics, from biology to earth sciences, and features subcategories dedicated to the major AP science tests. Although the videos are hosted on YouTube, the website offers a clear organizational style that makes it easy to find the topic you’re looking for.
Accessible via internet browsers
For high school, college and GRE prep students as well as students in lower grades
Although this collection of instructional videos and practice exercises now features sections devoted to science, the humanities and economics, the majority of the Khan Academy’s content is focused on math. Created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan (not to be confused with the famous Bollywood actor!), the website is organized by subject and then by subtopic, with each handled like its own miniature class. You can quiz yourself, review areas you’re still uncertain about, and track your progress as you move through the lectures, making this a great supplement to in-class learning.
With probably the most visually exciting video lectures featured on this list, Crash Course is a zany feast for the eyes. Crash Course was created by author John Green and his brother Hank Green, and the videos cover topics such as study skills, philosophy, literature and much more. Each area of study is covered by a specific expert and features fun animations to liven up the topic. The videos are casual in style but contain a wealth of information.
Studying and Productivity
So you’ve got your notes and you’ve reviewed some online lectures. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of studying. These programs will help you make the most of your study time and stay on track.
Carrying around a pack of flashcards isn’t the only way to test yourself on terms and concepts. Cram, which has a website and mobile phone apps, allows you to take your flashcards with you wherever you go and makes it easy to pick through the facts you know and the ones you don’t. Cram also has more than 191 million premade flashcards to choose from, helping you save some valuable study time. Quizlet and StudyStack are two popular alternatives.
This downloadable computer program for Macs is designed to keep you focused on studying and nothing else. After setting up SelfControl, you choose which distracting websites you want to block and for how long. Once you’ve activated the app, you have to either wait for the time to run out or restart your computer before you can access those sites again. If Facebook and YouTube are taking up too much of your time, this is the app for you.
Zero Willpower/Focus Lock
If it’s your phone that’s making it hard for you to study, then these apps may help. Both are simple: They block the things on your phone that make it hard for you to focus. Zero Willpower, which is an app for iOS devices that costs $1.99, lets you block distracting websites like Reddit and YouTube for a set period of time. Focus Lock, a free Android app, works along the same lines but blocks apps instead of websites. While they work a little differently, both are great ways to stop yourself from reaching for your phone when you should be studying.
Getting up in the morning can sometimes be the hardest part of the day. This app is the perfect solution for anyone who’s more likely to hit the snooze button than actually wake up. In fact, this app doesn’t even have a snooze button. There’s only one way to turn off the alarm: Go to the designated area of your house and take a photo. Until then, the alarm will keep blaring, forcing you to get moving.
Projects and Papers
As any student knows well, taking notes and studying for tests aren’t the only tasks that require a lot of time and organization. Completing major projects and writing papers can also be a large part of many classes. These resources are designed to spark ideas and keep everything organized while you work.
If you’re a visual person, mind mapping is a great way to get the juices flowing when brainstorming for a project or planning a paper. Coggle is completely free at its basic level and allows for real-time collaboration between individuals. Since it’s a website and not a program or app, the site is accessible virtually anywhere you have access to the internet.
When you’re working on a group project these days, there’s typically a lot of online communication involved. With texting, emails and face-to-face conversations, it can be difficult to keep everything straight. Slack can simplify this process. The app can be downloaded to your phone and gives you a place to keep project-related texts separate from personal ones. The app also keeps a record of the texts and gives you the ability to generate separate folders, making it easier to organize by topic.
Organizing your sources and citations for a paper can very quickly become a time-consuming task. EasyBib is an amazing online source that not only gathers your citations into one place but also helps you create them in the first place. The free version is currently only for MLA, but students who need APA or Chicago can instead use Citefast, which works in a similar manner.
Although this list is by no means exhaustive, each resource here represents a multitude of other electronic tools available to students. Try searching on your own to uncover many more options. And remember, online resources aren’t the only free tools at your disposal. Many schools offer writing and math labs, where you can get one-on-one help for free, and never underestimate the benefit of talking to your teacher when you have questions.
If you’re looking for other great ways to save money as a student, check out some of the Zing Blog’s other articles and learn how to get through college without breaking the bank, discover unique scholarships to help you pay for school and download some of the apps that can help you save money.
Did we miss any of your favorite budget-friendly student resources? Add them in the comments and help your fellow students out!