5 best iPad apps to help students succeed in the classroom

August 12, 2013

These tools can go a long way towards assisting with classroom productivity, such as note-taking, research, collaborating with others or saving information for later use. While the productivity space is pretty crowded in the App Store, start with these for academic success.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus HD

Sure, you can always Google a word, but what about when your class is in that basement dungeon that can't connect to WiFi? This app from the venerable Merriam-Webster puts a full-featured dictionary and thesaurus on your iPad.

Unlike the free version it contains no advertisements and has many power features that justify the $3.99 cost. Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus HD saves your recent searches, offers voice search and uses a scrolling index for casual word discovery. Many of the definitions and word suggestions are often more detailed and comprehensive than what a simple Google search finds.

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It is difficult to overstate just how ubiquitous Evernote has become. While some have argued the feature set has become a bit bloated, there still isn’t a better tool for assisting with research or saving notes in one searchable location. As an iPad app it is practically just as feature rich in the tablet form factor as on the desktop, allowing one to have key articles, data, or other files easily accessible.

Not to mention, the demise of Catch illustrates there is some merit in siding with the dominant tool when choosing among competing products. Also, if your storage needs are not that intense a free account should be fine (premium subscriptions are $45 per year).  


Pocket has become the DVR for the web. It is the best cross-platform tool for clipping articles that need to be read later or just saved for general reference. You can tag and categorize articles if saving them as part of a research project. They can also be tagged and are reformatted for distraction-free reading.

The iPad app has improved the sharing tools making it easy to send an article to another’s Pocket.


Handwritten notes sometimes still work best, and Notability is tops in this department. It is more than just a blank slate for scribbling, as you can import PDF files, Word documents, images, and other file types for annotation.

It also includes word processing tools like bullets, outlining and text boxes if you are combining handwritten notes and typed text.

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Ever wished for a dedicated Wikipedia app? Articles nicely packages Wikipedia content into an iPad-friendly application. Sure, many of your professors may frown upon using Wikipedia as a reference citation, but there is still no better way to quickly get background information on a subject.

The app adds some nice visual flourishes to enhance the usually spartan look of the Wikipedia web site.

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