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Top 5 apps for university students

Student reading, surrounded by school items

Marwan Elwaraki

Oct 10, 2021


With most students back in university, many are looking for apps to enhance their educational experience. The education category is filled with thousands of great apps to choose from. While we can't cover all of the apps we love, here are the five we find essential.

1- GoodNotes

Perhaps the most important skill you'll develop as a student is note-taking. The reason it's so crucial is that it allows you to interpret and condense what you hear into your own words. Writing everything the lecturer says is often a waste of time. Instead, it would be best to write it in your own words as it helps you understand the content better and makes it easier to revise as there'll be less to read.

To ensure productive note-taking, you’ll need an app that’s good at it. GoodNotes, as the name suggests, meets that criteria.

The app supports powerful features such as PDF annotation, hand-writing search, iCloud sync, and more. We enjoy the ability to search our hand-written notes, which makes GoodNotes an easy app to recommend to any iPad user.

While a Mac app does exist, the app's capabilities do truly shine the most on iPad. A one-time universal purchase for $7.99 includes the iPhone, iPad and Mac apps. You can learn more about GoodNotes and download it via its website.

2- Canva

They say a picture is worth a thousand words – so why not make yours great?

Canva is a digital design tool that gives anyone the ability to create beautiful images, documents, and presentations. It helps makes your work stand out from your peers.

Even for assignments where the design quality of your submission isn’t assessed, a well-designed document can push your marker to give you better scores.

Canva's templates and built-in elements make the whole process fun and help achieve high-quality output at the end. It's free to use though some templates and icons require a subscription. You can get started on Canva’s website.

3- Microsoft Lens

Apple introduced Live Text capture as part of iOS 15. The feature enables the conversion of text from the camera into digital text on the device. This is available in first-party and third-party apps too.

Despite this, Microsoft Lens remains ahead of the Live Text features. The app can convert images into tables to be exported directly into Microsoft Excel. Hand-written notes can also be converted into digital text or exported to Microsoft Word for annotation.

Microsoft Lens is available to download for free on the App Store and Google Play Store

Pro tip: capture documents using Microsoft Lens, then export them as PDFs into GoodNotes for a great workflow!

4- Grammarly

Writing essays into the night can be pretty daunting. Writing multiple essays all due in the same week is exhausting. Proofreading all those essays? Even worse.

Grammarly takes some of the hassles out of writing essays. Its advanced grammar detection features are some of the best in the industry. The free version also has a tone detector to ensure your writing sounds the same on paper as it does in your head.

The premium version offers more grammatical checks, insights and suggestions to help improve your writing. It also features a plagiarism detector in case, well, you plagiarised. It's best you spot it before the markers do!

Grammarly is available as an app, browser extension, office integration, and more. This makes it easy to get all your writing checked. This very article went through several changes in Grammarly before getting published!

 You can get started for free on Grammarly’s website. The premium version costs $12/month.

5- Mathway

Perhaps one of the most underrated services on this list, Mathway is your personal calculator on steroids!

The app makes it easy to solve and understand complex maths problems. Simply type out the equation, or even better, take a picture of it. Mathway will then show you the solution and the working out necessary to achieve it.

Although the solution is free, a premium subscription is required to view the steps necessary to achieve it. The website has many examples showcasing both the solution and steps, so you know what to expect when you sign up.

You can use Mathway online or via its mobile apps. Get started for free on Mathway’s website.

Bonus- Sorted

We know it’s cheesy to include your own app in a top 5 list. So we figured that’s what a bonus entry is for 😉.

If you already use Sorted, you're aware of the Auto Schedule and Time Ruler features that make scheduling your day a fun breeze.

Students benefit from seeing their classes, deadlines and more all in one schedule. Hyper-scheduling your day can help you stay on top of your tasks and avoid those dreaded all-nighters that no one wants.

Sorted is also available for free on the App Store. We want to make Sorted as accessible as possible to students, so we offer the PRO version at a  discounted rate via our website to both educators and students.  

About the Author
Student reading, surrounded by school items

Marwan Elwaraki

🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Marwan is an iOS developer with a passion towards running, building great apps, and tweeting your favourite memes.

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