paperless professional: digital study

Paperless Professional: Using an iPad Pro to Study

Traditional ways of studying are so 2000s. Who has time to make paper flash cards and spend hours thumbing through textbooks anymore? New apps and technology make it easy to access your notes across platforms at any place, any time.

Taking Notes: Traditionally vs Digitally

Nothing beats the feeling of pen and paper. This is perhaps the biggest strength of paper over the iPad (bar the cost). There’s a wide variety of notebooks, pencils, pens, and markers – each with their own experience to really personalise the feeling of writing itself. An iPad also gives you plenty of customisation with digital notebooks and planners, but is limited in stylus options. Personally, I use the Apple Pencil, which was a bit surreal at first but now it’s just like writing with a pen.

Talking about writing instruments, while it is easy to erase most pencil writing, erasing pen marks is a lot more difficult. You can’t erase pen, marker or highlighter from a page once you have written on it, which is something we have all grown used to in our note-taking journey. Yet, the issues paper has with erasability simply do not exist on the iPad. As everything you write is digital, you can inherently edit everything you write or highlight. The end result is that you can write to your heart’s content knowing that any mistake you make is easily and immediately fixable.

An iPad is also about the same size as a notebook (maybe a little bit bigger for the 12.9 inch versions). However, they are multi-purpose and can take the place of both your notebook(s) and your laptop. This makes an iPad a much more portable option.

Taking Digital Notes

GoodNotes is my favourite iPad note-taking app. It’s used by many for planning, note-taking, and annotating. In my experience, you can do pretty much everything in this app! With the focus on handwriting, this app makes it easy to enter complex mathematics and chemical formulas that can border on the impossible via a traditional keyboard

The GoodNotes approach can also be used to annotate PDFs, plus you can search handwritten notes and convert handwriting into text. The notes are also synced via iCloud, and can be backed up to your choice of cloud providers, including Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box.  

Alternative Apps for Making Notes

  • Notability from Ginger Labs, is an excellent, general purpose note-taking app for the iOS platform. It allows the user to combine multiple inputs, including typing, sketching, handwriting and photos, in a single place. It also supports annotating PDFs. Notes can be shared via email, and cloud-based services including AirDrop, Google Drive and Dropbox.
  • Evernote is a great app to collect multiple inputs, including images, text notes, recorded messages, and clippings of web pages – all in one file for storage and collaboration. They can then be accessed via the iPad Pro, Android, or a PC though the web browser interface for ease of workflow.
  • Notepad+ provides a digital notepad for you to do pretty much anything you’d like to that you would in a normal blank notepad. There’s the ability to type notes, of course, as well as make lists, but you can also use it for sketching as well as adding images.
  • OneNote may be a Microsoft production, but it’s a full-featured digital notepad for the iPad Pro and other iOS devices. Aside from the fact that it has a lot of functionality – and it’s free – it also integrates with Microsoft Office, which could be a big plus for a lot of people.
iPad Study

Study Apps

Finding apps isn’t difficult. Finding education apps is only a bit more challenging. Finding free education apps is also possible. Finding free education apps worth downloading is a different story entirely! From tools to help you organise your time and notes, to apps that help you focus, sleep, or wake up, the 21st century student has a helpful digital advisor, assistant, and audience 24/7.

Luckily you for, I’ve been there and done that, so you can enjoy my top apps for studying on a budget (since all good things do come with a price).


Let’s get this out of the way right now – Cheatography will not help you cheat. There are other sources you can go to for that, and take your chances. No good will come of it. But a lot of good can come of Cheatography. Cheatography is a massive, crowd-sourced collection of cheat sheets on dozens of different topics, more than 2500 and growing every day. These cheat sheets give you easy-to-read, to-the-point information about the topic you need to learn. Cheatography started out with cheat sheets on programming and coding, and that’s still one of their biggest collections, but there are sheets on hobbies, cooking, business, and more.


Quizlet is popular with teachers and students alike. The app allows you to create your own study materials across a wide range of subjects or use a vast library of materials created by other Quizlet users. Teachers use it to set their students challenges and tests by creating specific materials and then sharing it online, in or out of the classroom. Quizlet is a fun way to learn, as it uses videos and audio, so you can make your own dynamic flashcards and play learning games, especially useful for learning languages.


Sending an email filled with errors to your English professor is not the worst impression you can make – you could step on her foot while sneezing in her face, for instance – but it’s pretty bad. Maybe your friends don’t care if your text messages look like the track list for a Prince album, but you’re in college, and professionalism is key to success. Grammarly is a Chrome extension that won’t save your life, but it will save your dignity. Grammarly checks grammar, spelling, and mechanics for anything you write online, and even helps you improve it with progress reports on your most frequent mistakes, and how to stop making them.

My Study Life

My Study Life is an all-in-one student organiser, with scheduling and class timetabling that can sync with your calendar. The reminders notify you of incomplete tasks and upcoming classes and exams. It provides a task manager that goes beyond the simple to-do list, with functionality specific to student lifestyles. It’s also syncs across all devices, saves everything to the cloud and is available offline. So you can work on a paper offline, then save it to the cloud and have it linked to a task and timetable.


If you’re like most people who have English as a first language, you speak one language, and probably not very well. Whatever happened to all the French you learned just long enough for the final? Where are all those Spanish words unrelated to food? There’s a better way to learn a language, though – through fun, addicting mobile games like the ones in Duolingo. Duolingo is a prime example of how smart gamification can make learning fun, with little built-in endorphin releases every time you show progress. There are a lot of choices, and new ones are being added all the time – including Klingon!

What apps do you use to study? Let me know in the comments!

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