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Tips and Tools to Help Students Study, Take Notes, and Focus

With a new academic year rolling around, students of all ages will be looking for help and guidance with their work—and there are a wealth of options on mobile app stores and the web to help you succeed.

Here we've picked out some of the best apps and services across multiple categories, including time management, homework help, note-taking, and more. Put them together and you've got a comprehensive toolkit for making sure that this year is a good one.

No matter what your requirements, courses, or study habits are, there should be something here for you (or for the young student in your life). You might be surprised at just how much difference the right app can make.

Trello

The main appeal of Trello is its versatility: You can adapt the simple card-based interface in whichever way you want—whether to keep track of individual homework assignments or to log multiple research strands in an essay—and the software will adapt accordingly.

You can assign categories and deadlines to cards, attach files to them, and drop in to-do lists. However you decide to use Trello, you're going to find it straightforward to get around the app with easy drag-and-drop operations and a ton of options and features.

Trello (freemium for web, Android, iOS)

Socratic

Powered by Google's artificial intelligence engines, Socratic is here to answer any question on any topic, whether you need step-by-step math explanations, a quick overview of a historical event or work of literature, or details of a particular set of biological processes.

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All you need to do is ask a question (or even in the case of a math or geometry problem, take a photo). You might be surprised at the comprehensiveness of the answers that Socratic can give you, and the app comes with a variety of curated study guides as well.

Socratic (free for Android, iOS)

WolframAlpha

WolframAlpha is a search engine and knowledge library that makes Google look plain and dumbed down by comparison: It covers everything from mathematical equations to political geography, and it's a resource that you'll find yourself turning to again and again.

Using a finely tuned set of algorithms, the WolframAlpha engine can tell you the plots of novels, the histories of countries, the solutions to algebra problems, the compositions of materials, and much more—check out the examples it gives you for some tips.

WolframAlpha (freemium for web, Android, iOS)

Google Keep

When it comes to note-taking apps, you've got a wealth of options to pick from, but Google Keep can hold its own against the best. It looks simple to begin with—and is very simple to use—but there are plenty of advanced features to make use of if you dig a bit deeper.

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Whether you're tracking lessons or study assignments, you can associate times, dates, tags, and pictures to your notes, and you can even collaborate on notes with other people if you need to. There's also the option to quickly convert notes into documents in Google Docs.

Google Keep (free for web, Android, iOS)

myHomework Student Planner

The name of this app tells you pretty much all you need to know about it: myHomework Student Planner gives you a well-designed, flexible, intuitive suite of tools to make sure you're always on top of everything you need to do academically throughout the year.

You can track classes, homework, larger assignments, and tests through the app, and everything syncs seamlessly across whatever devices you happen to be using. Some of the useful features here include deadline reminders and customizable theme options.

myHomework Student Planner (freemium for web, Android, iOS)

Headspace for Kids

You may well have come across the Headspace meditation app, and Headspace for Kids is the part of the main app dedicated to younger people. It covers the fundamentals of meditation with scaled-down sessions specifically made for those who are still growing up.

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These sessions cover breathing exercises, showing kindness to others, and staying focused. And of course, as kids get older they can move on to the adult sections. There is a monthly fee, but you can try it for free, and it gives you a big return on your investment.

Headspace for Kids ($13 a month with a free trial for Android, iOS)

Bear Focus Timer

Staying concentrated and on task can make the difference between success and failure when it comes to study sessions, and Bear Focus Timer is one of the best apps around when it comes to making sure your mind doesn't wander when you need to be working.

You set a customized session time, and then Tom the bear will keep you on course with encouragements, reminders, and white noise if necessary. It's one of the more unusual focus apps out there, which is what makes it particularly effective in doing its job.

Bear Focus Timer ($2 for iOS)

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