What apps do you have on your phone?
TikTok? Snapchat? Instagram? YouTube? At least one of the above, right?
What about an educational app?
I know what you’re thinking. Does the default calculator count?
Your phone is powerful. As long as you still have storage, you can have a bunch of incredibly useful resources and tools right in your pocket.
So check out these 20 completely free apps that you, a high school student, definitely need.
Computer Apps/Chrome Extensions
These apps work best on your laptop. They include applications you can download, extensions you can add, or websites you can save.
I didn’t find this app until a few days ago, and wow do I wish I found it earlier!
Basically, it remembers a BUNCH (over 70) of things you copied and stores them in the app so you can access them in case you accidentally forgot you copied it, and copied another thing.
Does that make sense?
This comes in incredibly useful if you’re writing a paper. Save all the research quotes and sources into the clipboard and paste whichever you want when you’re ready.
Once you download the app, it’s readily accessible right at the top of your computer display.
If you don’t use Grammarly when writing your essays, you’re either a grammar genius or MISSING OUT!
Long story short, Grammarly checks your grammar. Maybe you guessed it already!
There is a paid version, but the free version works great for the basics! Simply download the Chrome extension, and you can use it on all your Google Docs writing.
If you expect to graph any math equation in the future, you need Desmos.
On Desmos, you can graph basically any equation. You can look for intersections, vertices, translations, whatever. Just try it!
Desmos is also available on phones, but it’s a lot easier to use on a computer. Just go to the online page! No downloads necessary.
Khan Academy is HUGE. It’s completely free and provides lessons in literally every subject I can think of.
From 5th grade math to AP Computer Science, biology to SAT prep, Khan Academy has everything. With practice problems, explanation videos, and full mock tests, it’s a fantastic resource for all students.
These apps are from Apple directly. You probably deleted some right away, but they can be pretty useful! All are accessible on both phones and computers.
Like the name suggests, this app holds eBooks. The eBooks that come in the Apple library are not free.
HOWEVER, I have a life hack for you. Most books have downloadable files online that you can find, like .pdf and .epub files.
Simply search up “[your book name] epub vk” and you’ll probably find an .epub file! Find the file, and download it. Click on the downloaded file and it will automatically open in Books, and boom! You now have a free book.
Don’t worry, it’s not a virus.
Notes is super simple, yet very useful!
If you constantly have little to-do lists, reminders, ideas, schedules, or ANYTHING! You can store it in your Notes.
But one useful feature of Notes (on iPhone) that isn’t very well known is its ability to scan documents.
Especially facing the threat of long-term online classes, scanning and uploading homework is likely to be very common.
But not everyone has scanners at home! And some people simply don’t want to download a scanner app (like me). This is where Notes comes in.
Simply click the camera icon above the keyboard and select Scan Documents. Super simple to use and surprisingly good results!
Again, the name of the app gives it away. It hosts podcasts.
ALL of the podcasts are completely free. The interface is so easy to use, and there is a huge library of podcasts for you to find and download.
One thing: the automatic downloads can be annoying if you’re not a daily listener to all of your subscribed podcasts. But it can be handled!
Listening to podcasts is a great way to keep up with the world around you (The Daily from The Times, Up First from NPR), learn about certain topics (Planet Money from NPR), learn a language, or just spend 30 minutes with yourself!
I hope you’re already using calendars, even if not the one on your devices.
Whether you’re remembering birthdays, meetings, due dates, goals, or more, calendars are simply the best thing to use. Like, what else can you even use?
But here, I’m going to be emphasizing the calendar on your MacBook. It’s essentially the same thing as the one on your iPhone, but it’s a lot easier to format. Let me explain.
On the MacBook Calendar app, you get to create multiple “calendars”, which essentially lets you color code your events. You also get 4 “views”: Day, Week, Month, and Year. I mostly use Week and Month.
And each time you create an event, you can create a time block! I use this for my daily tasks such as studying, and it’s both satisfying and useful.
I’m talking about the maroon Dictionary app that comes with your MacBook.
Maybe you use Dictionary.com, or Merriam-Webster. Those work, too. But Apple’s Dictionary might be superior (as a dictionary). Let me explain.
Although Dictionary doesn’t offer a “Word of the Day” or anything fancy, it does its job extremely well. It works offline, has no ads, and offers multiple dictionaries in different languages.
Mobile Phone Apps
These are all apps that you can download on your phone, and which work best on your phone. However, I use an iPhone, so I can’t be sure that they all work the same on Androids.
Although there’s been an increase in the amounts of ads that appear on Quizlet, it’s free for you to use. There is a paid version, but it’s not necessary.
On Quizlet, you can make flashcards on whatever you want and organize them however you’d like. Your teacher can also make them and share them with your class.
You not only can make flashcards on Quizlet, you can also study with them in different ways.
You have 5 options: Learn, Flashcards, Write, Match, and Test. The last 2 are games, and the first 3 are exercises that help you remember your terms.
It’s extremely easy to use and great for language and science classes!
Duolingo has been around for years, and it’s (in my opinion) the best app for language learning!
There are 30+ languages available on Duolingo, and you can learn each in “bite-size lessons”. It includes reading, writing, and speaking in the lessons, and has rewards, a streak system, and more in the app itself.
The app is very easy to use, and as the creators have said, will remain free forever!
Graphing Calculator X84
This app is pretty much self-explanatory.
A graphing calculator helps so much in high school math classes. But they’re expensive (around $100 each) and not everyone can afford them.
While some schools and teachers offer lends, they usually suck. So why not get a free calculator app that does everything a $100 calculator can do?
Google Drive, Docs, Slides, & Translate
Until around last year, I saw no use in downloading these apps. But then, I realized just how useful they are.
First up, Google Drive. View all the PDFs, video files, docs, sheets, slides, and literally everything else.
Drive is especially helpful for gathering video files in one place from different people, as the video quality is preserved no matter the video size.
While you can see everything on Drive, you can’t edit anything. Which is why Docs and Slides (and others like Sheets) are useful. You can edit all your files on these apps, online and offline.
Another useful feature of Google Docs is Dictation. If you’re writing something lengthy, use Dictation to “type” everything instead! So much faster.
Lastly, Google Translate. If you take a language class (and suck at that language), Translate is a MUST. I’m not even going to explain.
Of course, Google Translate also has really cool features. You can take a picture of some text and it will translate it for you! This is incredibly useful in certain cases.
If you like to be organized without a bunch of extra stuff, Minimalist is a great app for you.
Once you open the app, your to-do list appears. It’s literally a plain screen with your tasks listed on it. Just swipe down to add a task and swipe left to delete.
However, the free version only lets you create 1 list. But I found that it was enough for my daily to-do list.
Minimalist also has a Concentrate timer feature, which helps you focus, but I personally don’t use it. This next app may be better for that!
You may have heard of Forest, the app that lets you plant trees to stay focused. However, that costs $1.99, which is $1.99 too expensive for me (just kidding).
Thankfully, there’s a free alternative on the market.
Flora is extremely similar to Forest, but free. Plant a tree and go focus on your task. If you go on your phone, the tree is killed. Simple as that.
Last but not least, a self care app.
Mental health should definitely not be ignored in high school. It might be hard to take an hour out of each day to do yoga or take a long bath, so why not spend a couple of minutes journaling instead?
Sayana is an intelligent journal that lets you pour out your thoughts without worrying that it will tell someone. It uses your words and actions to curate the app just for you.
It also has an extremely pretty interface!
I hope you found an app – or even better, a couple of apps – you like from these 20! No matter which you decide to download, I hope it changes your student life for the better.
If you’re looking for more posts on student life hacks, check out these: