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School can be one of the best things that ever happens in someone’s life. Or it can be the worst. There are always the teachers who think that their job is to make a student’s life miserable, the boring textbooks which are thicker than Harry Potter’s series, the never ending papers and assignments and pop quizzes and tests… You get the picture.
Luckily, in this digital age, everybody can turn to their computer for help. There are many applications dedicated to improve your study skills, as well as the overall school experience.
And for those Mac-user students out there, here are five free tools to help you survive, and win.
Update: No longer available.
The first thing to do to achieve a better academic grades is to organize everything into one easy-to-observe placeholder. Schoolhouse, which dubs itself as “The Homework Manager for The Mac“, is built to do just that. Developed by a student who still lives the life, you can expect this application to be as useful as it should be.
You start the application by creating a new term; give name to it and set the time range of the term.
Then you gradually add your assignments, tasks and notes to it. You could choose to view all the items by list, week or month, iCal style.
Schoolhouse also has the ability to link documents and media to the assignments for quick reference, preview all your grades during the term to help you monitor your performance, and automatically publish the assignments to the web so that anyone can subscribe to them.
If it sounds confusing, don’t worry — to help users getting started, this app come with a short PDF manual.
Schoolhouse is like a GTD tool for students, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be useful for non-student users. I find that this app is very useful to manage my writing projects.
One of the biggest traumas of school that still carved in my memory was studying for tests. I was always a “math kind of guy”, so memorizing too many facts and dates always scared me.
I wish I’ve encountered Genius back then. This small app will help anybody with their study skills, particularly how to memorize things easier.
You start with a new blank window. Then, by clicking the ‘+’ button, you can add a question. Insert the answer next to the question.
After all of the questions and answers have been inserted into the Genius window, you can save the window and start the learning process. Click the green “Study” button, and Genius will pop up a window with a question and the answer while dimming out the other parts of the screen. It will ask you to memorize them.
Genius then will ask the question again and you have to write the answer. It will alternate between new facts and questions. Genius organizes your information and carefully chooses questions using an intelligent “spaced repetition” method that’s based on your past performance.
You can useto study foreign language phrases, vocabulary words, historical events, legal definitions, formal speeches, marketing points, religious texts, or anything else you need to memorize.
It’s always nice to learn a new language. But there’s one obstacle that usually stops almost everybody from learning any language: memorizing the vocabularies.
ProVoc is a free vocabulary trainer that makes learning a language easy. Just download the application and the vocabulary pack(s), and you are ready to go. There is a mountain of vocabulary packs available ranging from German to Dutch to Polish to Russian to Arabic.
ProVoc has the ability to export to an iPod, so you can learn while on the road. You can also print flash cards, use the free Dashboard Widget, and listen to the audio pronunciation of the words.
The word “student” is often being related to “starving”. This might be an indication that most students are not good in managing their finance.
To help with the monetary side, students (and everybody else) can rely on Buddi, a simple and free, open-source money management application. Buddi is Java-based so it can run on any operating system with Java environment installed.
With the financial problem tackled with the help of, students can focus more on the study.
“The dog ate my paper” is a classic excuse for not turning in your assignment. Of course, no teacher will buy it anymore. The modern alternative is “My hard drive crashed and ate everything inside, including my assignment.” But that is also not selling well anymore because we have backup utilities.
Carbon Copy Cloner is one free and powerful alternatives. You can “clone” everything to an external hard drive.
6. Bonus tool: [NO LONGER WORKS] G.ho.st
G.ho.st is one of the online alternatives for backing up your files. You will get 15 Gigabytes of free online storage on the system (and another additional 5GB for every friend who signs up from your invitation).
But G.ho.st is not just about file backup. It is a complete virtual, online operating system. So you will also get an office suite, games, browser and everything that you can expect from an operating system. Why will you need this? Simple — you can access your work and files from any place on earth with just a computer and an internet connection.
One of the new features that I like most is the ability to “side-load” files from web location directly to G.ho.st online storage, and the ability to share them with your friends.
The above link will direct you to the G.ho.st page with me as the referrer. If you don’t feel like donating an additional 5 Gigabytes to me, you can go.
7. Everything else
There is still so many more applications that can help students to improve study skills and work better. MakeUseOf Directory profiled over 100 tools, covering everything from online dictionaries, chart makers and flash cards to sites for ordering food from take-aways located near the campus.
Don’t forget to check out articles about online tools for students such as:
We’ve also discussed other free file hosts for free online storage services that can be used by students to keep and share their files.
If you could add more ideas to this short list, be sure to write it down using the comment below.