Online apps & tools to help you study for uni or TAFE

Help give your exam results a boost and make your student days easier with these handy study tools.

Spring! The new season means flowers, warm days and… the dreaded university exam period.

The end of the year is oh-so-near and yet-so-far. There are still classes to attend and assignments to hand in, plus the countdown to major essays and final examinations.

Following on from our HSC study guide, we’ve pulled together some recommended gadgets and apps that you can use to help streamline your tertiary studies without necessarily having to cram until 2am.

Apps & services

SoundNote 

If you’re having trouble absorbing all the information being shared in lectures, this app might be your secret weapon.

SoundNote tracks what you are typing or drawing during your lecture, while taking a recording as well.

When you want more detail, you can just tap on the words or sketches you have got and the app will skip back to what the lecturer was saying when you jotted it down.

You can share your notes, drawings and audio files across email and transfer them to your Mac or PC for safekeeping.

Download for iOS

Dragon Dictation 

This voice recognition app lets you convert voice to text. It’s handy for taking notes, sending text messages and even updating your social media status.

The team behind Dragon Dictation claims that using it is five times faster than typing on a keyboard. It can potentially save a great deal time of time if you’re not a confident typist, or are stuck without a keyboard, and have a lot of work to get through.

Download for iOS

Grammarly 

Losing points for spelling mistakes and bad grammar can be painful, especially when you know you have the required knowledge of a subject. Downloading the Grammarly app to work alongside your browser is a simple way to pick up basic or advanced errors that Microsoft Word and Google Docs miss.

Grammarly does sometimes recommend US spellings, which is worth keeping an eye out for, but basically it acts as a last minute proof reader, which can come in very handy when you’re pressed to hand in an assignment before the last minute.

You can see your basic mistakes for free and view advances mistakes for a subscription fee.

Check out the Grammarly website

Trello 

Trello and other task management apps let you plan your study sessions out, with boards to help you divide your to-do list by subject.

With the free Trello app for desktop and mobile you can click to drag your completed tasks across boards and reduce the stress of worrying that you have forgotten to do something important that will count towards your final result.

Visit trello.com, or look for other ‘Kanban board’ applications.

Pomodoro 

Used by many people as a time management tool, Pomodoro breaks your study time into easily digestible chunks by prompting you to study for 25 minutes before giving you a five minute break.

Every two hours it will encourage you to take a longer break so that you don’t end up going cross eyed from all that studying.

Fans of the Pomodoro technique say they use it to increase their productivity by forcing themselves to focus on one task at a time.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Pokémon Go 

Yes, really, although other gamification apps should also do the trick.

The tip that some experts will give you about studying is that you need to take regular breaks; a great excuse to get you get outside occasionally.

Gamify your walk and take your mind off the heavy stuff by chasing the little critters that remind you of your carefree childhood (if only things were still so simple!).

This app will give you a break from numbers, statistics or detailed analysis while encouraging you to get some much needed fresh air.

Of course, there are other gamification apps that encourage you to get out of the house.

If Pokémon doesn’t sound like your thing, have a look around and see if you can find something that will help get you outside and into the world beyond your walls every once in a while.

Hardware and gadgets 

Soundproof headphones 

The ideal study space isn’t always available to you when you’re a student dealing with commuting, juggling a part time job, cramming in some study between lectures or living in a household full of adults and trying to share entertainment options.

Investing in a decent pair of soundproof headphones can help to block out the noisy world when the time comes that you really have to focus.

You can simply have peace and quiet or stream some music that inspires you to work harder. If you’re not sure what brand to buy, ask your friends or see what your local tech store recommends, and don’t forget to check online reviews!

External hard drive 

The cloud is an amazing way to store and access reams of documents, notes and information, but should something go wrong at the last minute it makes sense to back up your most important notes and drafted assignments.

A hard drive is also useful for storing your films and music so that you can take them with you and catch up on entertainment at break time.

Just make sure you get one that is powered through its USB connection, otherwise you won’t be able to run it unless you find a wall outlet.

E-reader 

E-readers like Amazon Kindle can let you download textbooks and recommended-reading resources without having to lug around heavy versions.

These smart devices let you bookmark and make notes as you learn so that you can refer back when you’re working on assignments or studying for a final exam.

Sometimes you can even see portions that other people have highlighted, potentially giving you a clue as to what bits may be especially important.

Shop around for an e-reader that lets you upload PDFs, which can be handy for a more portable version of your class notes.

Best of luck with the rest of the semester!

Once you've finally made it past the exam period, you might need a break. Check out these five online activities for a fun-filled staycation, which might give you some ideas of how to relax at home without necessarily breaking the bank.