These back-to-school Android apps make the grade

by Caitlin M. Foyt

Summer's coming to an end and the time has come to head back to school. Whether you're starting first grade, middle school, high school, college, or a master's program, you'll probably need some new tools to get the most out of your education. You may need to head out to to the store to find your pens, pencils, notebooks, folders and books, but there are also a lot of helpful resources to be discovered via your Android phone. Here we've listed a variety of notable handy apps, available for students at all different education levels.

For Elementary School Students:

Math Wizard ($1.49)

More fun than numbers on paper, Math Wizard is an exciting, silly game that can be used to teach kids basic math skills: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Flash cards and study questions are used to guide students through the material. The app also records how quickly each question was answered so that parents and teachers can see a report of their progress. This feature offers statistics on the student’s trouble areas, and the difficulty level can be adjusted for individual needs.

The Cat in the Hat ($3.99)

This app brings the classic Dr. Seuss story to life! A very special e-book, The Cat in the Hat is like a digital pop-up book. Words on the screen bolden as the story is read aloud by a narrator with a light and fanciful voice. When touched, any object in the illustration will be read aloud, and words will fly around the screen. This way, not only do young children have the opportunity to learn, but they can also feel like they're part of the story. Young readers can choose to have it read to them (“Read To Me”), read it silently to themselves without a narrator (“Read It Myself”) or have the story “played” like a movie. ("Autoplay”) The creators of The Cat In The Hat application, Oceanhouse Media, also make a few other similar apps, including a few other favorites by Dr. Seuss like The Lorax and One Fish Two Fish and the Little Critter series.

For Junior High/Middle School/High School Students:

Algeo Graphing Calculator (Free)

You could buy one of those enormous and expensive Texas Instruments graphing calculators... or you could download one onto your phone for free. Algeo Graphing Calculator has all of the options you'll need to do your homework, including the ability to calculate derivatives, tally statistics, compute various trigonometry and algebra problems, among other things.

Formulas Lite (Free)

Here's another app that will help you in your math classes. Formulas Lite is a compilation of some of the most important and frequently used formulas in subjects including math, physics and chemistry. It also includes a scientific calculator and a basic translator. You probably won't be able to get away with using this one on some of your tests, but it could still prove to be a very helpful study tool, anyway.

Flashcards Buddy Pro ($1.99)

Whether it's math formulas or French vocabulary terms, flash cards come up a lot in school. Instead of cramping your hand by writing out index card after index card, or carrying around a rubber-banded stack with you, you can instead type them in and keep them organized on your Android phone. Because you take your phone with you everywhere, you can also study anywhere, whether you're waiting for the bus, have a few minutes to spare before basketball practice starts or you've been dragged along on one of your parents' errands.

For College/Graduate School Students:

Amazon.com (Free)

If you're taking more than one or two courses, you'll probably end up spending an arm and a leg on textbooks. But, why pay a college bookstore's sticker price when you can find a better deal someplace else? Amazon.com sells a lot of different kinds of stuff, but they're pretty well known for having a huge collection of books. Whether you're looking for something new or used book, chances are, even with costs of shipping, you'll be giving your school's bookstore a run for their money. The app's search feature is also super easy to use, which means you'll quickly find what you're looking for. If you ask me, that sure beats getting lost and fighting the crowds in the busy book store.

Class Buddy - Student Planner (Free)

Class Buddy is an agenda planner designed specifically for the busy student (is there any other kind?). The app allows you to plan out your whole semester, ensuring that you're able to keep all of your school-related responsibilities organized: it has special places for you to indicate when an assignment is due and when you have an exam coming up. The app also has a widget that can be set to remind you of your course work so that you never show up to class empty handed. As an added plus, the app also calculates your GPA, so you always have a good idea how you're performing.

Evernote (Free)

Instead of taking notes in half-a-dozen notebooks, keep all of your important course notes in one place. Whether you're taking art history or economics, the app has the capacity for everything you need to know and files it away carefully so nothing gets lost or overlooked. Just organize your information by notebooks and tags, and later, when you're looking for a specific fact or vocabulary word, use the app's search function to quickly track it down. You can also add emphasis to certain points by using rich text features (bold, italic or underline), add bullet points, or create a numbered list or check boxes. To share notes with classmates, you can synchronize your notes across all of the devices that you use and share them via a Facebook message.

DocumentsToGo Full Version Key ($14.99)

Printing a term paper or essay at the computer lab? Use Documents To Go to store your important assignments. What's great about this app is that it keeps your documents intact so you don't ever have to worry about losing your APA or MLA style formats. Docs To Go as a full version will set you back $15, but there is also a free version that you can give a try first. With you document right on your phone, you can continue making edits to your paper up until it's time to turn it in.

Mint.com Personal Finance (Free)

School is expensive. Whether you're juggling your classes with work or you've taken out some student loans, you're probably keeping a close eye on your finances. Set up your own account on your computer, then sync it up with the Mint app on your Android phone. Check balances, maintain a budget and monitor your spending to keep yourself out of financial trouble. After all, you never know when that one extra beer at the bar will put you into the red zone.

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