5 Essential School Apps to Improve your Academic Workflow within OSX and iOS

Posted on April 14, 2011

I am currently going to school for my Masters Degree, and I am constantly looking for some of the best apps to help me manage and complete my assignments. My top 5 include: Mental Case, Omni Outliner, iStudiez Pro, Reference Tracker and Papers.

iStudiez Pro

Istudiez icon

Platforms: Mac, iPhone, iPad
Platform Sync: YES
Website: http://istudentpro.com/

Used for: Course Organizer, Project Planner, Assignment Tracker

Ease of Use: 5
Look and Feel: 5
Functionality: 4

Comments:
I fell in love with this app after about 5 minutes of use. It’s seriously awesome. iStudiez is your one-stop shop for organizing your school information, course outlines, assignments, projects, instructors, and anything else school related. This app also has a really nice built in calendar (with assignment notifications). The thing I like most about this app is the ability to list out my courses (for all of my semesters), and populate the info with my assignments ahead of time. I can then assign due dates to the material, and use the app as my assignment reference, rather than having to go back to the course outline every time.

If I could, here are a few things I would add to make the functionality a solid 5:
When working with Assignments that are part of courses, there are times when the description will be VERY long. It would be great if you could expand/contract the notes section within the sidebar. It would also be really nice if you could view/expand/contract the assignment notes within the main windows (so everything isn’t so squished together).

Also, I feel that there should be a section for research notes. That would essentially make iStudiez a binder for all of my class info. As I am working on my assignments, I can also store my research and notes within those project tasks. It would be a great resource for keeping everything in one place.

Other than that, the app is truly fantastic.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Mental Case

Mental Case Icon

Platforms: Mac, iPhone, iPad
Platform Sync: YES
Website: http://www.mentalcaseapp.com/

Used for: Studying, Flash Cards, Note Cards, Cramming

Ease of Use: 5
Look and Feel: 5
Functionality: 4

Comments:
In my opinion, this app is very close to perfect. It’s a perfect Flash Card study companion. I find that it is especially useful when I am trying to cram for material. I can study at work or on-the-go with my iPhone and iPad. The only reason the functionality rating a 4 is because of the app’s lack of a ‘multiple choice’ mode. This would be especially handy if I am studying for certification exams where I have a set of study questions. It would effectively allow me to create my own practice exams.

I have talked to the developer and this is something that they are currently working on. Hopefully they will implement it soon.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Reference Tracker

Reference Tracker Icon 256px

Platforms: Mac, iPhone, iPad
Platform Sync: YES
Website: http://www.malkinware.com/referencetracker/

Used for: References Tracker and Formatter (APA, MLA, etc)

Ease of Use: 5
Look and Feel: 3
Functionality: 5

Comments:
The reference tracker is simple, effective and powerful. It gets the job done and has proven to be an invaluable tool. My only criticism is that it doesn’t have the same polish as other MAC OSX applications, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. It’s a great way to stay on top of your references. It also contains a very handy ISBN lookup tool, and will generate your final list when you are done.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Papers

Papers icon

Platforms: Mac, iPhone, iPad
Platform Sync: YES
Website: http://www.mekentosj.com/papers/

Use: APA References Tracker and Formatter

Ease of Use: 3.5
Look and Feel: 5
Functionality: 4

Comments:
I rated the ease of use a 3.5 because it is somewhat difficult to pin down exactly which research library you should be using. It may not be the application that becomes confusing, but the material itself. One thing I wish the app would do is filter out any results that you have to pay for. It would also be great it if linked with an app like Referece Tracker to automatically import the references of the articles that you have selected.

Overall Rating: 4/5

OmniOutliner

Omni Outliner Icon

Platforms: Mac, iPad (coming soon)
Platform Sync: N/A
Website: http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnioutliner/

Used for: Outlining

Ease of Use: 5
Look and Feel: 5
Functionality: 5

Comments: There’s really not much to say about this app. Its perfect for what it is. The only thing I wish it had is a companion iPad app. Although, I’m not sure how much I would really use it since I am generally outlining on my laptop.

Overall Rating: 5/5

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