How I Use My iPad For School + 10 Best Apps For Students

Good morning, with the world full of unknowns and still in a mess, there is one thing I know for sure, I will have school work to do in September, regardless if it’s in person or online. So today I wanted to start my back to school posts with how I use my iPad for school. I got my iPad two Christmas’ ago and have used it for 3 school semesters. I am planning on doing an in depth post about my note taking method and layout so follow this blog to be notified when that’s posted.


Background + Specs + Accessories

Quick background about me if you’re new. I am a biology student at the University of Ottawa and take my classes in both French and English. I am a pretty visual learner and thrive with written notes (vs typed). Many professors in my faculty don’t allow enough time on each slide to fully write out the content because they provide us with their PowerPoint expect us just to annotate. I use to print these ppt before class but sometimes they put it up too close to class and it’s also hard to write a lot on 1/6 of the page. Not to mention how excessive the paper and ink use was. All these factors contributed to my “need” for an iPad.

I have :
– Black iPad 6th generation, 128gb
– 1st generation Apple Pencil
– Matt screen protector to cut the glare and make writing much more similar to regular paper & pencil
– Silicone Apple Pencil cover


Best & Most used apps

1. GoodNotes (I use version 5)

This is my personal favourite app for taking hand written notes. I love the all the options that it has. They have so many page layouts (including dot, grid, staffs, to do lists, calendars + more!). They have 3 pen options, mono line, fountain pen and brush pen (which I love for titles). The highlighter is also really good, and highlights under written text. If you have an apple pencil connected you can scroll and touch the screen without marking it up because you can only write with the pencil. This allows you to place your hand on the screen while writting just like a regualr pencil + paper. There are some really cool shortcuts that I will include in a future post, How I Take My Notes.

The app Notability is another strong contender that allows you to record audio as you write then later tap that text and it plays audio at that time. However they are less options for the rest and I don’t like the interface/usability as much. I’ve seen people take preliminary lecture notes on notability then write final copies in Goodnotes. I don’t personally see a benefit in the added app. You’ll see later that I just use the voice memos app for audio recording.

2. Safari + Google Chrome

These are great for quick research and accessing BrightSpace (my schools website for class content). You can save/download powerpoint and PDFs then add them right to your note taking app.

3. Word Reference + Google Translate

These are a MUST if you study in second (or other) language or are taking a language class.

Bonus for French students or classes : La conjugaison française L’OBS, it’s a free French grammar app. Just search the verb and it gives you conjugation for all tenses!

4. Voice Memos

Great for recording lectures (that you have permission to record) so you can check back if you missed information. Also has come in handy for doing voice overs for oral presentations that have to be submitted online (which might become the new normal with COVID).

5. Spotify / Music

Music is great for any and everything. I really like instrumental music when I’m studying so I use my Study Spotify playlist.

6. Procreate

This app is sooooo useful and not just for Art + Media majors, but with the endless options for tools and colour you can create amazing diagrams. I will share how to create your own diagrams (even ones that are animated) in my How I Take Notes post. If you want to get real fancy you can create notebook covers for notebooks in GoodNotes or creating title .png for your notes.

7. Libby / library app

I’m not sure how many students read many books for research anymore but finding an app for your local library can save you a lot of money on books, especially if you’re an English major or taking a class like children’s lit. Also just good for books you want to read.

8. Gmail + email

Another must have to keep up with important emails from your school and teachers.

9. Google Drive / Docs / Slides

Regardless is your preferred apps are Microsoft Suite, you will (almost certainly) come across a need for one of these apps. Great for group assignments or study notes (study across all devices) especially with more and more schools moving to online.

10. Photos / Camera

Either taking pictures of the black board, or screen shot diagrams or taking pictures of assignments to submit. Whatever it is you will probably need this at some point.


Thank you so much for reading, don’t forget to subscribe below (it’s free!) so you’ll be notified the moment I publish a new post (like How I Take My Notes). What are your favourite apps for school? Do you have a must have accessory? Leave a comment below.
~Tori Scherle~

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I'm 21 years old and I'm in my 4th year at the University of Ottawa in Biology. I love photography, baking, plants & adventures!

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