iPhone back-to-school guide, part 2: Study Tools

Published: August 25, 2009

This fall, iPhone-toting college students will have more apps to choose from than ever before. With more than 65,000 items in the App Store, there are solutions for nearly every kind of coursework, from math and anatomy to poly sci, media and everything in between.

Doing a generic Top 5 list for students would be impossible. A Top 50 would be more like it. So here I broke out some apps that are universally useful as study aids. As for my collection of documents and note apps, well that became a separate list, so I’ll get into those in the next section.

So here they are, your Top 5 study tools. As always, chime in if you know an amazing app that’s missing from this list.

STUDY AIDS
When I look at the following iPhone applications, I just can’t believe some schools don’t allow cell phones at school. While some people say cell phones make people stupid, these are five awesome examples of how they can be used to make people smarter.

ETEXTBOOKS: This is a new app, and it looks pretty promising. College textbooks can be pretty beasty, so providing college students with a way to review or search textbooks and digital notes via iPhone is a huge plus (especially during open book exams). Parent company CourseSmart is the purveyor of more than 7,000 etextbooks from 12 different publishers, so users with accounts can access their purchases wherever they have WiFi. Free

IFLIPR FLASHCARDS: When it comes to memorization and drilling, flashcards are the gold standard for studying. This iPhone app allows customization, and the cards reorganize depending on which ones are missed the most. Online syncing and offline use means you always have it on-hand. All I have to say is I wish I’d had this when I was back in school. $4.99

WORDBOOK ENGLISH DICTIONARY & THESAURUS: Sure, there are plenty of pricey dictionary apps, but for many students, Wordbook will do just fine. In fact, it’s one of the best of the affordable dictionary and thesaurus apps. It has over 150,000 entries, thesaurus, hyperlinks and even spoken pronunciations. $1.99 (NOTE: Serious penny pinchers may like the DICTIONARY.COM app. It gives you more than 275,000 definitions and 80,000 synonyms for bargain-basement price of free.)

WIKIPANION: As an encyclopedia, Wikipedia can offer more than you ever wanted to know about people, places and things. For me, Wikipanion is one of the best iPhone access points for that wealth of knowledge. Bear in mind that the site is a collaborative, user-created reference tool, so many professors frown upon using it for academic sourcing. But it’s essential for quick look-ups and contextual info on the go. Free/$4.99

ISTUDIEZ PRO: Being organized is the most important aspect of student life. How else will you stay on top of classes, papers, exams, and the all-important frat mixers? Well, this well-designed app can help. It color-coordinates class schedules and assignments, and features an interactive calendar with month and week views. Also, word has it that the developers are working on push notifications and associated desktop software, which will take this app from sweet to sublime. $2.99

Honorable mentions:
SCIENTIFIC CALCULATORS: Since most universities have math or science reqs, students of all types need a good calculator.

Sure, when it comes to everyday life, the iPhone’s built-in calc is serviceable. It even offers “advanced” functions in landscape. But when you need a little more juice, don’t hesitate to browse the innumerable options in the App Store. There are specialized ones for medical, chemistry, business, accounting and more. Personally, I like the HP 15C (shown) or the SCI 15-C scientific calculators. They’re unintentionally retro-hip apps that look like the old calc that helped me pass Baby Chem. SCI 15-C Scientific Calculator: $14.99; HP 15C Scientific Calculator: $29.99

What did I miss? Are you using an app for school that’s become completely indispensable? Share the knowledge below.

Next up: Top 5 documents and notes apps for students

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