Dear Honors: Study Hacks & Apps

This post is dedicated to the studious students confused on how to study. Marina has reviewed the most popular study apps that totally beat my steadfast tradition of staring at all of my materials until they magically absorb into my brain… Maybe I should take her advice too. -KK


Dear Honors,

Even though there are days when all I want to do is lay in bed and look at dog pictures, I have to study every once in a while. (#Priorities) What tools do you suggest?

Dog Loving–but also GPA loving–Honors Student


Ah yes, the epitome of all questions: “How the heck do I study for everything and not lose my sanity?” Well, because I love you all so much, I tested out a few study tools and I’m going to review them for you so you don’t have to—you’re welcome.

Let’s start with Notability. First off, let me say that I have been texting far too long and having to capitalize “Notability” and all the other tools every time is going to get really annoying really fast. Where is auto-correct when you need it? It’s always there at the worst times… like no Siri, I’m not talking about freaking ducks… I digress. Notability. That’s the first app I tested. My general advice is to go into your app store right now and download this thing—it is pure studying gold.



Pros: This app has the capability of creating folders, i.e. by subject or class, that you can fill with your course materials. Boom–easy organization. Once you’ve got your handy dandy folders, you can start the real (less fun, I know) work of taking actual notes. You can download your instructor’s PowerPoint slides into the app, and from there you can draw on, highlight, write on, and insert pictures and figures right onto the lecture slides. Fancy, huh? And the best part is…you can also record the lecture with this app. So, not only do you have all the PowerPoint slides with your beautiful illustrations and notes, but you’ve also got the lecture recorded in the background. Pure. Studying. Gold.

Cons: This app really only has one downside, and it’s not even that big of a downside. Here’s the thing friends, you have to pay for it. It costs $4.99 which isn’t too bad for all of its functionality, but still. Think of it this way: it’s like replacing one Starbucks coffee with this fancy app thing that is going to help you be a magnificent wonderful unicorn of a student way more than one dose of caffeine is. A good trade off, I think.


Look how amazing and organized this slide is with Notability! So great. Now, let’s talk about Evernote. Again, capitalizing sucks. Okay, here we go.



Pros: This app is available on your computer, your phone, and tablet which is nice because in this day and age having all of your things on all of your devices is very necessary. We are technologically savvy and we need all the things, all the time. It has similar functions to Notability, but it functions more as a blank canvas if you will. You can highlight text, import pictures of your lecture slides, link to resources on the internet–all that good stuff–but you’re starting with a blank page. The huge pro—it has an insane amount of functions. The programmers that created this thing were really busy, that’s for sure. I couldn’t even begin to learn all the possibilities in my short trial run which means there’s a lot of potential with Evernote. Best part? It’s free–unless you want upgrades, but you don’t really need them from my experience–so free! Yay for free things because we’re broke college students!

Cons: If you’re like me, I am not creative enough to start with a blank canvas. All you art majors out there… you guys are magical creatures to me because I cannot fathom having to be creative or artistic or anything relatively related to those qualities, so go you. With that being said, Evernote has a ton of possibilities but you have to command your own ship and figure out how to best use them for yourself.


Now, for the usual culprits that we all know too well: Quizlet, StudyBlue… there’s too many to list here. I trust you to look them all up yourself.

Quizlet, StudyBlue, & the basics:

Pros: The main pro with these platforms is that you make flashcards with your course material and these websites will convert them into other study resources such as tests, matching games, fill in the blank worksheets, etc. Plus, you can export the material to be used elsewhere.

Cons: These are especially useful for material that needs to be memorized. We’re not necessarily studying super conceptual stuff with these tools. Their functionality is limited in that way. However, we all need a good flashcard review session every now and then, and for that, these have got you covered.

After talking to other Honorables such as yourself, I’ve been told that some people rewrite their notes to study, others read the textbook before they go to bed each night, some just pet dogs all day instead… JK but still a good stress reliever. All in all, I think we have to give the #1 spot to Notability, and to all the adorable dogs out there for both being so wonderful.

The last thing to remember with study habits is that they are, indeed, habits. The tools you use, the locations in which you study (*hint hint* the BHC and all the other places we’ve featured in the Mental Spaces series), the time of day you study, how much time you spend studying–all of this should be considered when forming your study habits. Think of them as little plants that you have to cultivate and take care of. Maybe switch things up with them every once in awhile to see if something works better for you. Now that you’re equipped with all the knowledge, go cultivate your little study plant.


(But they’ll never be as good as our plants in the BHC, so maybe come check them out for inspiration.)

Your friend and peer advisor,


By: Marina Gibbs

Majors: Human Physiology & Chemistry

Hometown: Chandler, AZ


Edited By: Katie Kiesewetter, Blog Manager

Do you have a question about the honors program that you want answered? We want to hear from you! Email your questions to with “Dear Honors” in the subject line. Questions can remain anonymous if you’d like.


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