6 Best Free Tools to Make You a Better Student With Zero Effort (+ a bonus worksheet)

Want to know how to become a better student in college without having to do more work? These 6 free tools will help you save time and get smarter with practically zero effort on your part. Write better essays, solve math proofs in minutes, and do better in difficult college classes the easy way.

Want to know how to do better in college without extra work? These are the best tools to help you save time and get smarter with practically zero effort!

Want to know how to do better in college without extra work? These are the best tools to help you save time and get smarter with practically zero effort!

 

1. Hemmingway App

Looking for a way to edit your paper quickly and painlessly?

Hemmingway App highlights a lot of the garbage grammar we love to use in our essays (like adverbs, ugh!), making it super simple to delete and fix the most common problems.

I run every paper I write through Hemmingway App as my first phase of editing. It helps me clear up complexity (so many of my sentences border on unreadable they're so long, windy, and complex...perhaps you've noticed?)

Until I clean them up with the Hemmingway App, that is.

Hemmingway App highlights long, complex sentences and common errors, making it super simple to upgrade your essay in just a few minutes. One of the top 6 free tools that will make you a better student with zero effort. Check out the rest of the tools in the post and start saving time and effort in school.

It's hard to start the editing process. After all, you just went through hell in a hand-basket to write the essay, and now you have to polish it up? Isn't it good enough already?

Of course, my dear, your essay will never be good enough. And you certainly will have to return to hell to edit the thing. But starting with the Hemmingway App opens the doors to betterment painlessly and easily.

And if you're really not going to spend the time giving it a real edit, this app will cover some of the more glaring errors that might be hard for you to miss (helloooo passive voice, we meet again.)

It might not get you writing like Hemmingway, but it's a solid start to making your essays sound better!

2. Google Calendar

I'm going to yell at you for a second. Cover your ears if you like.

do not keep it all in your head.

You know what I'm talking about. ALL OF IT. Your homework due dates, your track practice, your frozen yogurt club meeting, your professor's office hours, your doctor's appointment next week oh my gosh it was today??! 

Where do you put all of the things you need to remember?

A notebook? Your phone? Scribbled in red ink on the back of your hand?

Then how do you remember to check and see what you've got going on?

Do you review it every night? Or when you start to panic?

Getting everything in one place will make your life streamlined and easy. You know where to look for an appointment time or due date. You can see what's coming up and add a quick reminder about something you don't want to forget.

Everything you need to do that has a time stamp on it (like calling the financial aid office to talk about your ridiculously high outstanding balance for what, exactly?) needs to get out of your head and into ONE place where you keep everything else.

It all goes to the same place.

I like to use Google Calendar because it syncs with my phone and gives me a week-ahead glance so I know what's coming up. (If you have a gmail account, you have Google Calendar.)

Use google calendar to capture EVERYTHING you need to remember for school, work, and your social life. Keeping it all in one place allows you to manage your schedule without stress. No more scribbling notes on spare pieces of paper and forgetting them. Create a system that works and that will automatically remind you of what you need to remember. Check out the blog post for more time-saving tips for college students that will make you a better student without effort.

And it's super easy to add a new note, reminder, appointment, or due date.

And it's online, so wherever you go, it goes, unlike your day planner while you're out making new friends at Trivia Night at the local bar.

When you take it out of your head, you release all the stress from having to keep track of the million things making your life a constant game of catch-up. Putting it down in one place means you have instant, easy access to what use to be cluttering up your mind.

The best part? You're freeing up space in your memory palace for better things than remembering to do laundry before you run out of socks.

(Too late.)

 

3. Writing/Math Lab

Don't want to do your homework?

Let someone else do it.

Just kidding.

Not really.

If you're killing yourself over tough problem sets, or trying futilely to revise a paper your professor pretty much bled over in red ink, do yourself a favor and take it to the lab.

The writing lab at UC Berkeley. Where students help students be better students.

The writing lab at UC Berkeley. Where students help students be better students.

You'll get actionable advice you can simply follow without having to think too much, and churn out homework you may have otherwise left undone.

Search for your campus Writing Lab and Math Lab and put the open hours in your calendar. Then whenever you've hit a block, you can stop in a get going again quick and easy.

4. YouTube/iTunesU

I could add Coursera, Kahn Academy, and Lynda.com to this list, among many others, but I like to keep things short and simple.

If you're in a difficult class and you don't want to fall behind/let the professor or your peers know you're not 100% completely on top of everything all the time because you're the most perfect person ever...*ahem*...you may want to try getting some extra learning time in...the fun way.

Crash Course on YouTube is the most fun educational show out there. Get a comprehensive overview of nearly any topic in about 10 minutes. You'll be 5x smarter after. I promise.

Crash Course on YouTube is the most fun educational show out there. Get a comprehensive overview of nearly any topic in about 10 minutes. You'll be 5x smarter after. I promise.

You can search for courses that compliment your course or dig into deeper research about a specific topic.

YouTube has courses from Stanford, Yale, UC Berkeley...pretty much all of the top colleges host lectures on a variety of subjects.

Instead of catching up on the latest episode (or seven) of New Girl (guilty), watch a lecture in bed and absorb by osmosis your difficult course material.

Sometimes having a different perspective or a different teacher helps you understand the material more fully.

If you're struggling in a tough class, check out other lectures, podcasts, or videos that will help you round out your understanding of the material.

5. Desmos

Miniature disclaimer here. I've never used Desmos because I'm allergic to math. That being said, Desmos most certainly would have helped me soothe my allergy like Zyrtec at 4am.

Desmos lets you "graph functions, plot tables of data, evaluate equations, explore transformations, and much more – for free!" (Yes, I copied and pasted from their site.)

I also copied and pasted this:

Ah yes, graphs and calculators. I could punch buttons like a monkey all day.

Ah yes, graphs and calculators. I could punch buttons like a monkey all day.

If you're a math geek, this probably gets you excited.

And since I'm a poor spokesperson, let these people tell you about how much it's helped them:

Write a comment below if you end up using this!

6. Lazy Scholar

Do you, like me, get really bummed out when you find the perfect article on Google Scholar but you can't access it because it requires a $49 subscription?

Lazy Scholar is an extension that helps you save time on your scholarly article search by only showing you free results.

It also give you one-click citations...which is awesome because writing citations is mind-numbing busy-work.

Bonus: Easy Topic to Thesis Worksheet

Sometimes coming up a good topic and writing the thesis statement takes me longer than it does to write the actual paper.

That's why I created the easy topic to thesis worksheet designed to guide you through repeatable steps for finding a great topic, gathering research, and writing that thesis statement.

You can get the worksheet here:

 

Save time, save stress, save the struggle. Let these free tools help you become a better student today!