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When it is time to head back to the classroom, whether it’s high school or college, you’ll need the right apps to get started. From tools that assist you with organizing and staying focused, to those tailored specifically to your area of study, there is bound to be at least a few on this list for you.
If you’re heading back to school with an iPhone or iPad, there are a huge number of apps available on the App Store that can help you get work done. Here are 60 of the best apps to help you, regardless of what subject you’re undertaking.
In this article: Apps by Subject | Planners, Organizers, and Task Lists | Note-Taking Apps | Reference and Research Apps | Test Preparation Apps | Physical Safety Apps | Apps to Keep You Focused | Text Editors and Word Processors | File and Document Management | Utility Apps
Apps by Subject
Whether a subject is your major, your minor, or simply a required class, there are apps here to help you. From the arts to the sciences, these handy tools cover a variety of subjects and might just give you the edge you need.
Art and Music
MoMA (Free, iPhone)
With the MoMA app, you can take a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City right from your iPhone. View collections of modern and contemporary works. The app allows you to take photos, create your own collections, and share easily.
Sheet Music Reader piaScore (Free, iPhone, iPad)
For music majors, the Sheet Music Reader piaScore app is a great tool. The app lets you view musical scores, jot down notes, search and browse, and manage scores with tags. With wireless page-turning, page rearranging, and Dropbox support, you will be playing a new tune in no time.
L2Code Training Series ($14.99, iPhone, iPad)
Learn PHP (Free, iPhone, iPad)
For those seeking a career in web development, Learn PHP is a terrific teaching tool. You will learn how to create dynamic web pages and develop websites using PHP. Before you know it, you will be crafting forms, blogs, picture galleries, and surveys.
FRED Economic Data (Free, iPhone, iPad)
For economics, FRED Economic Data provides 79 different regional, national, and international sources to get the data you need. You can browse and search, view and create graphs, share via email or social media, and read news and updates. When you need economic data for a presentation or research paper, this app has you covered.
AutoCAD 360 (Free, iPhone, iPad)
AutoCAD 360 includes drawing and drafting tools so that you can view, create, edit, and share drawings. You can work offline, use GPS for drawing orientation, plot designs to PDF or DWF, and connect to Buzzsaw, Dropbox, or Google Drive. The app has a free 30-day trial with subscriptions starting at $4.99 after that.
Duolingo (Free, iPhuone, iPad)
For learning Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and English, Duolingo is a solid choice. The app provides an enjoyable learning experience with colorful graphics, fun quizzes, and helpful on-screen tips.
Babbel (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Another great app that teaches a variety of languages is Babbel. Pick from 14 dialects including Spanish, French, Italian, and German. You will learn valuable conversational skills in short lessons and the app is useful for both beginners and advanced learners.
History and Political Science
Today’s Document (Free, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
With 365 documents and photos from the U.S. National Archives, Today’s Document is a handy app for learning about American history. You can use a calendar to view by specific date, just browse, or search by keyword. The app also allows you to save your favorites and share with others.
U.S. Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation (Free, iPhone, iPad)
The U.S. Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation comes from the Library of Congress using data that is provided by the Government Printing Office. The app discusses Supreme Court cases, including federal, state, and local laws that were opposed, as well as selected historical documents, and more.
Law Dictionary & Guide (Free, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
For those studying law, the Law Dictionary & Guide app is a must-have reference. With over 14,000 legal entries, more than 600 U.S. law abbreviations, an offline dictionary, a lawyer directory, and a law journal, this is a must for legal students.
LexisNexis Law School Q&A Series (Free, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
LexisNexis Law School Q&A Series offers a preparation series for law students with both multiple choice and essay questions. There are currently 39 subject areas including bankruptcy, family law, contracts, environmental law, and copyrights. While the app is free to download, the subject areas are available at $19.99 each.
Wolfram Algebra Course Assistant ($1.99, iPhone, iPad)
For Algebra I, Algebra II, and College Algebra, the Wolfram Algebra Course Assistant is a handy tool. You will see how to work problems with step-by-step instructions. From factoring and dividing expressions to simplifying fractions and square roots, this app can assist with both homework and test preparation.
Math 42 (Free, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
Math 42 is a useful app for students from middle school to college. The app helps to provide a better understanding of math concepts such as fractions, logarithms, systems of equations, and polynomial long division. With a clean and simple interface, Math 42 is worth a look no matter what your math level.
Medicine and the Sciences
Essential Anatomy 5 ($24.99, iPhone, iPad)
With Essential Anatomy 5, students can view over 8,200 amazing structures in 3-D for both male and female models. Create customized pins, slice through structures, save bookmarks, take dynamic quizzes, and study 11 systems including skeletal, skin, nerve, vein, and lymphatic.
Wolfram General Chemistry Course Assistant ($4.99, iPhone, iPad)
For Chemistry, General Chemistry, and AP Chemistry, Wolfram General Chemistry Course Assistant is a great help and reference. Determine properties of elements, perform stoichiometric conversions, and employ over 45 different computations, with this easy-to-use app.
CERN (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Get the latest news from the European Council for Nuclear Research with the CERN app. You will get news, history, and experiments, along with photos, videos, webcasts, and tweets. You can even check out job openings. If physics is your thing, then CERN is for you.
3D Brain (Free, iPhone, iPad)
For rotating and zooming around 29 interactive structures, 3D Brain is a terrific app. You can review various functions, disorders, case studies, and get links to modern research. The app has a nice, smooth interface and is easy to use.
Exoplanet (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Explore the Milky Way with a 3-D model, study a reality sky map, get detailed information on exoplanets, and see real-time ray tracing with the Exoplanet app. With regular updates, interactive animations, and visualizations; space science has never looked so good.
Human Anatomy Atlas ($24.99, iPhone, iPad)
Human Anatomy Atlas has over 5,000 3D structures of both male and female anatomy. Search for a specific body party or browse through over 100 views of the thoracic cage or pelvic cavity. Definitions, descriptions, quizzes, and amazing visuals make this app valuable to those in the medical science field.
Journal Club ($4.99, iPhone, iPad)
Check out reviews of top articles in internal medicine with Journal Club. The app contains physician-written and peer-reviewed major points along with criticisms, outcomes, and even funding details. Sort trials by name, specialty, or disease and then share information easily with classmates and colleagues.
Planners, Organizers, and Task Lists
Staying organized throughout the school year and planning your assignments and tasks is crucial to your academic success. Make sure that you have an intuitive, uncomplicated tool that can help you stay on top of things.
Study Cal (Free, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
Keep track of everything each semester with Study Cal. This convenient planner and organizer lets you add classes, instructors, notes, grades, assignments, reminders, schedules, notes, and photos. You can even track your GPA and view a graph of your grade history.
iStudiez Pro ($2.99, iPhone, iPad)
With iStudiez Pro, you can follow up with homework, organize your schedule, integrate with your calendar, and track your grades. Organize assignments by class, date, or priority, use colored labels for convenience, and set up handy alerts.
Trello (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Trello is a great tool for projects of all sizes and can be used effectively for school or college work. Organize classes and assignments, create to-dos, add checklists, attach files, collate research, and work on group projects with an easy-to-use and fully-accessible tool.
Wunderlist (Free, iPhone, iPad)
For a simple to-do list and task manager, Wunderlist offers extensive features to keep you organized. With due dates and reminders, notes and file attachments, and the ability to share lists and tasks, you will never forget an important deadline. You can also catch a quick glance with the Today widget in your Notification Center.
Clear ($4.99, iPhone, iPad)
For a simple and tactile approach to keeping a to-do list, Clear does the job. Use gestures to create lists and items, re-order items, set reminders, and sync with the desktop version of the app. If you prefer to take a lightweight approach to organization, Clear and its colorful themes should do everything you need.
For taking notes during class, saving websites for future reference, and sharing lecture notes with classmates, do your best to pick an app that suits all of your needs. These intuitive and feature-filled apps will keep your notes in check.
Evernote (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Capture notes during a lecture, save websites for research, record audio notes, and keep it all together with Evernote. The app allows you to sync across devices, share items with classmates, search for specific items, and create reminders. For a handy note-taking and organizing tool, Evernote has you covered.
Microsoft OneNote (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Another awesome note-taking tool is Microsoft OneNote — and its free option is more generous than what Evernote currently provides. You can capture pictures of the board during class, share your notes for group projects, sync with other devices, and scribble down notes quickly. With OneNote, searching, sorting, and organizing notes and notebooks is a breeze.
Notability ($7.99, iPhone, iPad)
Notability offers simple note-taking features along with helpful PDF annotation options. Whether you like to type or draw, share with others, sync your files, or record lectures so that you do not miss a thing, this extensive app has what you need.
Post-it Plus (Free, iPhone, iPad)
If you prefer sticky notes over books of notes, then check out Post-it Plus. The app allows you to capture up to 50 notes at once that can be organized, edited, shared, and combined as if they are up on a whiteboard. If you like this classic concept, Post-it Plus is a good note-taking option.
Reference and Research Apps
Whether you are writing an essay, preparing a presentation, or working on your thesis, having handy references that assist you is essential. When it is time to double-check a word or find an article reference, these apps make the grade.
Murphy’s English Grammar in Use (Free, iPhone, iPad)
When it is time to craft an amazing essay for class, pop open Murphy’s English Grammar in Use. The app comes with six grammar units and more can be obtained via in-app purchases. From present and past tense examples to interactive exercises that improve your grammar over time, this is a useful reference and study tool in one.
Dictionary.com Dictionary & Thesaurus (Free, iPhone)
Another extremely convenient resource for students is the Dictionary.com app. With over 2,000,000 definitions, as well as synonyms, this is handy point of reference whether you’re studying language or looking to improve written work. The app has many options that include voice search, audio pronunciations, spelling help, word history, and much more. Some features require an in-app purchase, or you can check out Dictionary.com Premium for $3.99 which includes them all.
Thesaurus Rex ($2.99, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
If having a thesaurus at hand is a must for your major, then take a look at Thesaurus Rex by Dictionary.com. The app includes over 550,000 new and modern synonyms, sorting and filters, personalized lists of your favorites, as well as examples and tips for usage. If you know you will need a thesaurus often, $2.99 is a small price to pay.
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Encyclopaedia Britannica has been a long-standing resource for students since it was only distributed in paper form. For free, users can browse and search over 65,000 articles on almost any topic imaginable. The app also offers a subscription option for just $14.99 per year which provides access to over 80,000 articles and removes the ads. For the ultimate reference, take a peek at Encyclopaedia Britannica.
ArticleSearch (Free, iPhone, iPad)
For locating scientific papers, journals, and educational publications, ArticleSearch is the app you want. You can search for free on two search engines or choose a premium one for a small fee. With a nice selection of libraries, engines, and databases, your article search begins here.
RefME (Free, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
When crafting essays, RefME helps you cite your sources correctly. With automated citations, reference lists, and bibliographies, just scan your book barcode and go. The app also allows you to search if you are without a barcode, paste in a website link, and covers both MLA and APA styles. If you are interested in more extensive features, the app offers subscriptions for $32.99 yearly.
Statistics X: College and AP Stats (Free, iPhone, iPad)
If you are taking a statistics class or are simply interested in learning more, Statistics X is the way to go. The app includes features to assist you with problems, questions, and quizzes, for a wonderful study tool. In addition, you can do calculations right in the app using the scratch pad.
Test Preparation Apps
Preparing for those tough and required tests takes time and energy. If you need a little assistance getting everything in order before you sit down to answer those questions, take a look at a few beneficial tools.
College Passport – ACT Edition (Free, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
This app from Edupath tracks your strengths and weaknesses, offers sessions with instructors for help, and lets you browse schools to see which one is the best fit. There is a parent dashboard and college application management right within the app.
LSAT Prep & LSAT Test Practice Questions (Free, iPhone, iPad)
For law students who want to raise their LSAT test score, this preparation app is definitely worth a look. LSAT Prep & LSAT Test Practice Questions provides over 7,800 licensed questions from previous LSATs, step-by-step explanations, and analytics of your strengths and weaknesses. The app has in-app purchases for various items along with lifetime access ($399) or monthly subscriptions ($149).
BarMax Bar Exam & MPRE Review (Free, iPhone, iPad)
BarMax Bar Exam & MPRE Review provides free content such as audio lectures, outlines, and flash cards. You can also review MBE licensed questions and learn at your own pace. If you are preparing for the bar exam in your state, there are specific in-app purchase options to view for your location.
The Official Guide for GMAT Review ($4.99, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
Get official questions, answers, and explanations straight from the Graduate Management Admission Council. With tips, reviews, practice exams, evaluations, and analytics, if you are prepping for the GMAT, then this app is worth the money.
Physical Safety Apps
When you are away at college, walking alone at night on campus, or preparing for a long drive home for the weekend, these apps are invaluable. Make sure that help in an emergency is close at hand with useful safety tools.
Guardian Circle (Free, iPhone)
Feel safe when you are away from home and on campus with Guardian Circle. With this handy app, you can quickly send an urgent alert to the contacts you choose along with your location on a map. At that point, everyone in your Guardian Circle who checks on you will have their locations shared as well, making it easy to see who is closest to you in order to help.
Companion: Never Walk Alone (Free, iPhone) [No Longer Available]
Companion is another great safety app to check out when you head off to college. Just enter your destination and select your contacts to be your Companions until you arrive safely. They will see a live map of you as you move to your destination and receive updates during your journey. Companion also includes a quick emergency call feature.
Apps to Keep You Focused
In addition to tools that allow you to organize and plan, those that keep you focused are just as important. Spend your time where it needs to be spent and reduce distractions with these awesome apps.
Be Focused – Focus Timer & Goal Tracker (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Configure breaks, manage tasks, and track your progress with Be Focused. The app allows for short and long breaks, a customizable number of intervals, easy goal-tracking, and task list integration. For reminding yourself to take a break, moving onto the next assignment, or limiting your social time, Be Focused is your app.
Forest: Stay Focused, Be Present ($1.99, iPhone)
For a unique and innovative way to keep your focus, check out Forest. With a mission of helping you put down your phone and move onto other activities, you will turn your focus time into a delightful forest. Earn rewards, unlock additional items, plant trees, and even compete with others just by putting away your phone and doing your schoolwork instead.
Text Editors and Word Processors
Creating term papers, essays, and outlines for class is always better when you have the right app. With these winning writing tools, you can access and write your papers on the go.
iA Writer ($3.99, iPhone, iPad)
If you enjoy simple text editors, iA Writer combines an intuitive interface with robust features. The app offers Microsoft Word format conversion, markdown preview, find and replace, night mode, and exporting to HTML or PDF.
Byword ($5.99, iPhone, iPad)
Another text editor option with some very nice features is Byword. The app provides offline access, document syncing, filter and search, markdown support, Spotlight Search, and iPad Pro multitasking (split screen mode) for compatible devices.
Ulysses ($24.99, iPhone, iPad) [No Longer Available]
For those who do a lot of writing for their major, like aspiring journalists and authors, Ulysses is a superb app. Available on iOS as well as Mac, this powerful tool provides vibrant features that go beyond the norm for text editors. The features include typewriter and full-screen modes, gluing, splitting, and merging of files, automatic and scheduled backups, and writing goals per character, word, or page.
Pages ($9.99/free, iPhone, iPad)
For those who prefer a full-fledged word processor, Apple’s Pages app is a terrific choice. The app comes with templates to get you started, importing and editing controls, various text formatting options, advanced writing tools, iCloud and AirDrop support, animated data features, and so much more. If you bought your iPhone or iPad on or after 1 September 2013, you should have received a free version of Pages.
Microsoft Word (Free, iPhone, iPad)
If you love Microsoft products, then Word on your mobile device is a wonderful word processing app. The app allows for images, tables, charts, and footnotes. You can track changes, add comments, and choose from different layouts. With rich document formatting options and an intuitive interface, you cannot go wrong with Microsoft Word. It’s completely free to use on regular 9.7″ iPads or iPhones, but requires an Office 365 subscription if you’re using a larger iPad Pro
File and Document Management
After working hard on finding or creating a document, video, or even a picture for photography class, keep those files safe with the right apps. This way, you can store, access, and share items right from your device.
Pocket (Free, iPhone, iPad)
When you find an article that is perfect for your research paper, make sure you have Pocket. This convenient app lets you save articles, videos, and links for later. Pocket also allows you to tag your items for easy organizing and offers a clean reading layout. The app syncs across devices as well as the Pocket website, so your saved items are always at hand.
Dropbox (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Easily save and quickly access documents, files, photos, and videos using Dropbox. With a seamless sync, you can pop open your items on your mobile device or computer without fear of loss. The Dropbox app also lets you create and edit Microsoft Office files from your mobile device for even more flexibility.
Google Drive (Free, iPhone, iPad)
If you are a fan of Google’s apps and products, then save and access your files with the Google Drive app. Documents, photos, videos, and more can be easily saved, shared, synced, and accessed with a few taps. The app provides activity details, offline viewing, and permissions for shared files, and you’ll get 15GB free space with your Google Account (with the option of buying more if you need it).
Adobe Acrobat Reader (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Adobe Acrobat Reader is more than the name suggests. While of course, you can view PDFs, you can also annotate with terrific tools, fill out forms, store and share documents, and connect a Dropbox account. If you are interested in creating, editing, and organize PDF files, there are in-app purchases for pro versions and subscriptions.
Having the right tools for school does not stop with apps that help you with class or keep you safe. You also need utility apps that ensure your calculations are correct and you awake well before the bell rings.
Calcbot (Free, iPhone, iPad)
Sure, your mobile device comes with a calculator that offers additional equation options when turned in landscape mode, but it does not come with Calcbot. If your major is in the mathematics field, then you likely want a calculator with a bit more. This app offers a history tape, 500 unit conversions across 22 categories, a favorite calculation feature, scientific functions, and iCloud sync. Some features, such as conversions, require the pro version which is only $1.99.
PCalc ($9.99, iPhone, iPad)
If you need even more from a calculator than Calcbot can provide because you are studying to be a scientist, engineer, or programmer, than PCalc would be the app for you. With a multi-line display, engineering and scientific notations, binary calculations, and more, this robust calculator is an awesome option.
Converter Plus (Free, iPhone, iPad)
For those whose main concern is conversions, then Converter Plus is right up your alley. The app offers multiple unit and currency conversions, an automatic exchange rate refresh (every six hours), a text search feature, and templates for convenience.
Alarm Clock Free (Free, iPhone)
Never miss a class by oversleeping with Alarm Clock Free. Taking your default device clock a step further, this app gives you a shake-to-snooze option, customizable alarm sounds with a song or playlist, colorful themes, and a flashlight built right in.
Alarm Clock HD – Free (Free, iPhone, iPad)
If your iPad is your clock of choice, then Alarm Clock HD is your app. With many of the same features as Alarm Clock Free, this one works great on iPad and also gives you weather information, RSS Google Reader and social media integration, color personalization, and multiple alarms with a repeat option.
Have a Great School Year!
Hopefully you have found an app or two on this list that will make your academic life a bit easier. If you use a must-have app that you would like to recommend to other students, please share it in the comments below.
From all of us at MakeUseOf.com, have a wonderful school year!