Best Apps for iPad – 23 Essential apps for High School and College Students

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Apps for high school and college students

When it comes to technology in the classroom, the iPad is a wonderful tool for students of all ages. It is invaluable for note-taking, researching, learning, reading and planning. In order to use your device to it’s fullest potential, you must have the right apps for the job.

In this article, I will showcase some of the best iPad apps that are essential for any student in High School or College who is using an iPad. I am focusing on iPad apps, but many of these are available on other platforms and devices as well. In later articles, I will list apps for specific subjects. Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter (located at the end of the article), and you’ll be the first to know when those articles are published.

(I am a college student myself, and I am the Campus Technology Specialist for a high school with a 1:1 iPad program (meaning every student uses an iPad). You might say that I have a LOT of experience in this area.)

Cloud Services for School

Cloud services are essential for any student. Dropbox and Google Drive are the leaders in this category. Why are they so great? Check out the things that they can do for you:

  • Back up your work
  • Sync documents to multiple devices and computers
  • Allow you to start working on a document on one device and pick up where you left off on a completely different device
  • Allow you to access your files anywhere with an internet connection
  • Work on almost any type of computer, tablet or smartphone
  • Allows you to save work created in an app to the cloud (these apps integrate with many apps in the App store)
  • Easily share files (even large files)

dropbox auto upload

1. Dropbox

Dropbox will give you 2 GB of space for free. You can upgrade to more space (up to 16GB) for free by referring friends and participating in different promotions. Their pro plan offers 1 TB of space (and a few other special features) for $9.99/month.

Click here to get an extra 500 GB for free when you sign up using my referral link

Refer your own friends after you sign up to get even more free space.

Dropbox Pro plans:

2. Google Drive

Google Drive offers 15 GB of storage space on their free accounts. They offer several different pricing tiers to upgrade to more storage. Their 1 TB plan is the same price as Dropbox, but they also offer options higher and lower than 1 TB.

Click here for more information on their storage plans

Click here to download the iPad app

Note Taking Apps for School


3. Notability

This is one of my all-time favorite apps. It’s simple enough to use in the same way that you’d use a piece of paper, and advanced enough for any note-taking challenge you throw at it. It’s great for people who:

  • Like to take handwritten notes
  • Take a combination of handwritten and typed notes
  • Want to sketch in a typed note
  • Need to mark up a pdf or Office document

With Dropbox and Google Drive integration, notes are retrievable and shareable on almost any platform. Type notes, record audio, add photos, sketch, import and export pdf files, sync, backup and import with Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud. My favorite feature of this app is the handwriting tool. Using the zoom tool, you can take notes as fast and as neat as if you were taking them on a piece of paper. You can use your finger for handwriting, but you will probably be more comfortable if you use a stylus.

Here’s a great overview of the app from a WLOS news segment:

Notability is available for iOS from the App Store
Click here to download Notability for the iPad

For Mac from the Mac App Store
Click here to download Notability for Mac


4. Evernote

Evernote is an all-in-one note-taking application and cloud service. Notes written in Evernote are automatically synced to Evernote’s cloud service. This application is great for people who like typed notes, as well as for the organizationally challenged.

Organization is very easy. You can arrange your notes into notebooks, tag your notes, or just use the search feature to find things. Notes can be accessed through a Mac or Windows computer, or an iOS or Android device. If you’d like the ability to add photos or scans of handwritten notes, the Evernote Premium plan offers handwriting recognition (you can search for handwritten words). There are browser extensions and dozens of apps that integrate with Evernote. You can even record audio notes or give presentations from the apps.

I use this service on a daily basis. All of the articles written on are written in Evernote. I also use it to take notes at work. I write notes in the desktop application for Mac and I can access them when I am walking around by using the app on my iPhone.

A demonstration of Evernote can be found here:

Click here to sign up for Evernote using my referral link and you’ll get access to Evernote’s premium features for FREE for one month. You can earn additional free months by referring your friends.

Evernote is available for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Windows tablets from their respective stores and from
App Store Link – Evernote

Information about Evernote Premium features and pricing can be found here:

Book Apps for School

Your iPad is a wonderful eBook reader. It sure beats lugging heavy textbooks around and the ability to search for specific keywords will save you a great deal of time.


5. iBooks

iBooks is a free app for iOS and Mac. The iBooks store is built in to the app, allowing you to read books and make book purchases with your Apple ID without leaving the app. You can also use iBooks to store PDFs sent from your email, the web, or other apps. This is only available on Apple products.

iBooks comes pre-installed on later versions of iOS and OSX. For other iOS devices, it’s available in the App store: Download iBooks for iPad


6. Kindle

The Kindle app is available for iOS, Android, Windows Devices, Blackberry, as well as for Mac and Windows. It allows you to read books purchased or rented from In my experience, they have a better selection of college textbooks on the Amazon store than they have in the iBooks Store.

Available for all platforms from their respective stores or by clicking here

Download Kindle for iPad app


7. Amazon Student

Before you buy that next book for your Kindle app, be sure to sign up for Amazon Student. Basically, this is like Amazon Prime for students at half the price. After a 6 month free trial of the service, you can sign up for Amazon Prime at 50% off the normal price. Free 2 day shipping from Amazon, streaming TV shows and music, special promotions and more!

Click here to sign up for 6 months of Amazon student for free by using my referral link

After you sign up, you can also refer your friends and earn $10 each time one of them signs up! Visit this page for details.

Audio Books for School



Listen to your books on the go, not just when you have time to sit down and read, with an audio books subscription service. (AudioBooks are also great for students with dyslexia or other reading difficulties.) An membership will let you listen to your audio books on iOS, Kindle Fire, Android, or Windows smartphone or tablet. Use the link below to get TWO free audio books with a 30 day free trial. After the 30 days, get 1 book each month for $14.95. You can cancel any time.

Audible Free Trial [Digital Membership]

Download Audible for iPad app


9. Other Book Apps

There are several different college textbook stores that have their own apps, such as Chegg, Kno, CourseSmart, and more. I would suggest searching for your textbooks in several different apps and comparing prices. Many of them offer rental options as well. I’ve found that the best way to find the cheapest book is to locate your book’s ISBN number ( will list it), and then do a google search for that ISBN number. Compare prices and features of each service.

Presentation Apps for School


10. Keynote

For creating presentations, Keynote for iOS stands out far above all of the others. I’ll tell you that other presentation apps exist, and I encourage you to try them out, but download Keynote first.

FREE for most iOS devices running iOS 8. (If you purchased your iPad before Sept. 2013, you may have to pay.)
Download Keynote for iPad


11. iMovie

Not all presentations are best captured in a slideshow. Some ideas are better demonstrated in a movie. Like Keynote, there are many movie editing apps available for the iPad, but iMovie is a standard that you should download and try. Try pairing it with a Green Screen app or a Stop Motion app for a movie worthy of an A+ rating.

FREE for most iOS devices running iOS 8. (If you purchased your iPad before Sept. 2013, you may have to pay.)
Download iMovie for iPad

(You may start to notice that I have an affinity for the apps designed by Apple.)

Word Processing Apps for School


12. Pages

Pages is a great word processor for the iPad. It’s simple, yet powerful. You won’t find every feature known to word processing in this app, but they’ve included the most important ones. It syncs with iCloud, so you can sync your documents to other iOS or Mac devices, or view your documents through a browser on PC or Mac. Documents can be exported in Pages, PDF or Word formats.

FREE for most iOS devices running iOS 8. (If you purchased your iPad before Sept. 2013, you may have to pay.)
Download Pages for iPad


13. Word

The Word app is fairly new to the iOS scene, but it’s pretty nice. It’s not as easy to use as Pages, but it offers more features (such as advanced formatting and collaboration options). You must have a paid subscription to access all of it’s features, but many schools are offering these subscriptions to their students at no charge. (If your school uses Outlook for email, chances are, you may have access to a free Office subscription.) Syncs with OneDrive and Dropbox.

Free, some features require Office subscription
Download Microsoft Word for iPad

Learning Resources for School


14. YouTube has never let me down. Do a YouTube search for the topic you’re struggling with and you’ll probably find quite a few videos where someone will explain it to you.


15. Khan Academy

Khan Academy makes learning interactive. While their instructional videos are great, their learning assessments are top-knotch. Watch a video and then answer questions about the subject you are learning. New questions are generated based on your knowledge of the previous questions. You can even earn badges and share your achievements. It’s hard to finish a lesson without gaining a complete understanding of the material presented. They also offer test prep courses for many popular tests. All for free!


16. iTunes U

“The iTunes U app gives you access to complete courses from leading universities and other schools — plus the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content — right on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Whether you’re majoring in molecular biology at a university, taking Spanish in high school, or just interested in European history, you now have a valuable tool to help you learn anytime, anywhere.” Available on iOS and through the iTunes application on your computer.

Download iTunes U for iPad

Research Apps for School


17. WolframAlpha

Their app’s description sounds far-fetched, but it’s true. “Remember the Star Trek computer? It’s finally happening–with Wolfram|Alpha. Building on 25 years of development led by Stephen Wolfram, Wolfram|Alpha has rapidly become the world’s definitive source for instant expert knowledge and computation.” You can find answers to almost anything by using this app or their website.

The best $2.99 you’ll ever spend
Download WolframAlpha for iPad


18. InstaGrok

“InstaGrok is an educational (re)search engine that lets students (any anyone else) research any topic in an engaging, visual way. instaGrok finds the best information on the topic and presents it as interactive concept map (“grok”), showing key facts, concepts and relationships, videos, images and more. Users can pin their favorite materials to their grok and take notes in the built-in journals.”

Download InstaGrok for iPad

EbscoHost icon

19. EBSCOhost

EBSCOhost databases and discovery technologies are the most-used, premium online information resources for tens of thousands of institutions worldwide. This free app ensures that iPhone and iPod Touch users get the most from searching premium EBSCOhost database content, provided courtesy of your library.

Download EBSCOhost for iPad

Citation Apps for School


20. EasyBib

You can use their app as well as a website ( The app has a feature that automatically creates a citation for you when you hold your device’s camera up to the book’s bar code. Their website offers more options, but doesn’t have the camera integration.

Download EasyBib for iPad

Flash Cards / Memory Aids for School


21. Eidetic

Eidetic helps you remember anything, from phone numbers to text. Tell the app what you need to memorize and it will remind you with notifications throughout the day.

FREE (in-app purchases)
Download Eidetic for iPad


22. StudyBlue

An app that lets you turn notes you’ve written in Evernote into flash cards. To save time and gain more understanding, you can also search for flash cards that have been made by other students.

Free for iOS, also available as a web app
Download STUDYBLUE for iPad

Scholarship Apps for School


23. Scholly

Start by entering information about yourself and the app matches you with scholarships. The app will also help you write college essays. “Scholly has scholarships for high school students and current college students. Scholly’s adaptive matching engine will find the scholarships you qualify for in seconds, without sign-ups or long forms that ask for your personal information.”

99 cents that you will hopefully get back hundred-fold
Download Scholly for iPad

*Prices listed were valid at time of publication (April 2015) and may fluctuate over time. Be sure to check for current prices. Some products listed here contain affiliate or referral links to products that I personally use and recommend.

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