App to school: Top 5 free apps for students

No one likes to see the end of summer, but the sun will soon set on vacations and journeys, and you know what that means — back to school. Fortunately, there are apps to ease a student back into the classroom. Here are my top 5 free recommendations:

Quizlet (free, iPhone and Android)

More than just an app, Quizlet has grown into a full-blown, international study site. Containing free study aids on everything from algebra to Swedish, Quizlet is often characterized as a flashcard app, but it also has a broad array of tools on its website for high school and college courses. There are audio pronunciation guides and quizzes, plus a couple of games to help you master whatever topic you seek — or, you can create your own flashcards. (Note: Teachers also use Quizlet to supplement their courses.)

EasyBib (free, iPhone and Android)

The bane of every essayist is the bibliography. Use an underscore when you should employ italics or forget an ISBN number and the teacher will dock you accordingly. Fortunately, EasyBib takes the drudgery out of the formatting frustration. Students can simply point their smartphone camera at a book's bar code and EasyBib spits out a citation according to MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style guidelines (it can also format it in dozens of other styles). If the book doesn't have a bar code, simply enter the title, “An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding,” and the app will find the correct listing for David Hume's treatise. (Note: The full “pro” version is $20 for a year's subscription.)

Evernote (free, iPhone and Android)

The preeminent app for taking notes, Evernote offers a quick way to jot down a few highlights on a smartphone when you're skimming a text. It also has the advantage of syncing notes on a laptop with those on your phone. (Note: The free version should be sufficient for most students.)

StudyBlue (free, iPhone and Adroid)

Designed for high school and college students, StudyBlue is a single-minded tool to help you memorize coursework. You can create your own flash cards and quizzes, as well as cop a look at other student-created flash cards (it's sharing, not cheating). You can also directly import Evernote text into the app. (Note: An annual fee of $84 is required if you want to gain access to millions of other study guides.)

Algeo Graphing Calculator (free, iPhone and Android)

There are math apps aplenty, but the most useful free tool for students in middle school on up is a decent graphing calculator. Algeo is one of the most complete. Not only will it draw functions, it can also calculate Taylor series and handle most scientific calculator moves, from radians to hyperbolic functions. (Note: Some additional functions are $1.99)