Campus Life

I tried 6 study apps — here’s what happened

by Ally Buso

A week long technology binge yielded these 6 new study apps you should try.

Looking to improve your study habits but not sure where to start? Look no further. For one week I tried popular FREE study apps. Below, I break it down to give you a run-through of how they work and the pros and cons of each. 

Here are the top 6 apps you need to try:

1. Anki

I’ve known about this little gem for quite a few years but rarely ever used it.

The program brings together two different study philosophies, active recall testing, and spaced repetition.  Questions in your flashcard deck are repeated based on a complex algorithm, which is determined by how well you know the material. Questions you don’t know the answers to will be prioritized above questions whose answer you are confident with. This is different than traditional flashcard systems where you study all the material at the same frequency, regardless of ease of recall.

Here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • I actually found myself remembering more information as I used the app on a regular basis. The more I used it, the better my information recall became and I scored extremely high on the test I was studying for.
  • There is both a phone app version as well as a desktop version, although the phone app version is a lot more user-friendly. 
  • You can download public study decks created by both users of Anki and from Quizlet.

Cons:

  • The website to download the desktop version is not the best.
  • I would definitely recommend the phone app version over the desktop version because it is simpler to use and is more aesthetically pleasing.
  • This app won’t help cram studiers. The algorithm is designed to be used over a longer study time.

For more information, you can check out Anki’s website. You can download the phone app on either Google Play Store or the App Store

 

2. Forest

The second app I tried is called Forest and I am absolutely in LOVE!!

Forest is a productivity app to help you stay focused when you are at work or trying to study. The way it works is really simple. In the app, you set a timer and during that time as long as you don’t go on any other apps, a tree will grow. But if you leave the Forest app for any reason while the timer is going, your tree will wither away and die.

The app also partners with Trees for the Future to plant real trees. For all the trees you grow in the app, you earn credits which can be used toward to planting real trees all around the world!

There is also a Chrome extension which does the same thing if internet surfing is your problem. You choose between two modes, whitelist and blacklist. Whitelist is good if you don’t intend on using the internet at all while working. The blacklist feature is great if you still require use of the internet for school or work but don’t want to be distracted by a particular site. You can set as many websites as you want on the blacklist. If you go onto any of those sites while the timer is on, the tree you are growing will die.

Here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • I love how you can adjust the time frequencies of the study periods to whatever suits your needs. In fact, I actually found myself staying more focused while using both the app and the Chrome extension at the same time as I always find myself getting distracted by the internet. One minute I am diligently working away and then the next, I’m on Facebook and have no idea how I got there! I also use both of them in class which has been a helpful way to stay focused on my lectures.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t help with stopping people from using apps on their computer. If you have issues with computer gaming then the Forest app won’t help. Or if you use a web browser other than Chrome you run into the same issue.

For more information and to download, visit the Google Play Store or the App Store.

 

3. My Study Life

I kind of cheated a bit with this one because I’ve been using it for years.

My Study Life is basically like a paperless agenda. It keeps track of everything relating to school from your class schedule to homework and exams. Like on your phone calendar, My Study Life will give you reminders at a set time before each class is supposed to start, giving you that extra little push you need to get to class on time.

The app also keeps track of your progress on each assignment you input. You keep track of how along you are on any given assignment with a sliding progress bar, from 0-100%. It counts down how many days until assignments are due or when exams are coming up.

Here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • It’s really user-friendly and it keeps everything organized in one place.
  • I’m a big fan of colour coding. This apps allows you to colour code the different subjects you are taking so you won’t get confused about which assignments are for which class.
  • I also love that it gives me a warning 15 minutes before class starts, so I can hurry up and get myself to class on time.

Cons:

  • I would really like to see the user be able to break down the individual components for assignments rather than the 0-100% progression bar. 
  • I would also like for it to have a grades tracking feature, so you can keep a close eye on your GPA.

Download the app from the Google Play Store or the App Store.

 

4. OneNote

Did you know that Humber students have a free Microsoft Office licence? When you download the free student package, you are given a ton of great stuff including OneNote. OneNote allows you to take digital notes and store them in a neat, tidy app. I always make a new notebook per semester. Within each one, you can add tabs for each subject and then add additional pages for each lecture in that class.  The pages are time and date stamped at the time of creation. All notebooks are synced to your personal Microsoft Cloud account, just in case you accidentally spill coffee on your computer. There’s even an app for your phone.

Here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • Clean and user-friendly design.
  • The interface is customizable with different Office themes when you sign into your Microsoft account.
  • You can also hand-write onto each page if your computer is touch screen enabled (or you can draw with your mouse whatever works).

Cons:

  • I would like to see a native in-app recording feature so you can capture audio from your lectures and store them with your notes. 

For more information on how you can download Microsoft for free with your student email by visiting the Microsoft website

 

5. A Soft Murmur

A Soft Murmur (ASM) is another app for productivity. ASM is a white noise generator. The app allows you to customize what sounds you are listening to. On the free version, you can choose from: rain, thunder, waves and wind. You can hear the full range of sounds if you access the ASM website.


Here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • It is really user-friendly and a great layout. 
  • You can set the intensity of each sound you want to listen to. I usually put the waves on full, the rain on half and the thunder on half. 

Cons:

  • It is really unfortunate that you have to buy the full version in order to access all the sounds. But if you spend most of your time working on your computer, then the website version works just as well as the app, and has a nearly identical interface.

This app is available for download on both the Google Play Store and the App Store.

 

6. Alarmy

Every single day my alarm goes off at 6 a.m. (though, most days my cat wakes me up first) and every day I drag my butt getting out of bed… not before hitting the snooze 20 times first. I can’t even begin to describe the number of times that I have almost been late for things because I hit snooze so many times.

Alarmy is an app that helps people like me get themselves out of bed by requiring the user to complete a “mission” before their alarm turns off. You can choose what type of mission you must perform, either a series of simple math problems, taking a photograph of something in your house, scanning the QR code of an item in your kitchen, or having to shake your phone a certain number of times.

Here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • Having to complete a mission in order for my alarm to turn off has legitimately helped me wake up on time. Getting out of bed is always the hardest part of waking up, so having an alarm that forces me to get out of bed in order to get it to shut off is honestly a blessing.

Cons:

  • The only problem with the app is that you can hack the system. You have to take a photo or scan the QR code for the same object every day, so if you really wanted to, you could program it to take a photo of something small and keep it right beside your phone so you won’t actually have to get out of bed to shut off the alarm.
  • To get the most out of the app you need to program it to photograph something big and immovable in your home, like a fridge or a stove.

Download the app from both the Google Play Store and the App Store.


Need to catch a few Zzz’s in between classes, but not enough time to head home? Check out the IGNITE Sleep Lounge!

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