Back to School: Essential Apps for High Schoolers

Six great apps for taking the stress out of school success

By Jacqueline Emigh

High school can be an exciting place but hectic, too, with its whirlwind of classes, extracurricular activities, and social events, Students are on the academic hot seat, because high school is the final proving ground for college acceptance. These six mobile apps can help to take some of the stress out of achieving high school success.

1. MyHomework Student Planner

When kids get to high school, teachers pile on the homework like never before. The MyHomework app tracks assignments and test dates across all of a student's classes, even sending out reminders of impending deadlines and test dates. Students can enter their class times by period schedule, block schedule, or time schedule. The app stores lessons, too.

This multiplatform app is available for iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows, and Mac operating systems. The iOS and Android apps work offline, as well, so kids can enter information on their mobile devices at school and then sync up to the Windows or Mac app after they return home. Students can choose between a free version (with ads, unfortunately) and an ad-free premium edition priced at $4.99. The premium edition supports several additional features, including file attachments and access to external calendars.


2. Story Chaser

With all those mounds of homework, students need to be able to read quickly and well. They could also use a bit of fun. Publisto’s Story Chaser is an engaging game that helps kids boost their reading speeds, comprehension, and vocabulary.

As you read beautifully illustrated classic stories, words drop down from the top of the screen. Each time this happens, you try to tap the corresponding word in the text. This isn't easy, because the pages turn fast.

You'll also be asked comprehension questions about what you've read. After you do well on these tasks, you earn Chaser Coins which unlock more and more levels in the game. Players can move from Good Reader, to Excellent Reader, to Fantastic Reader, with "bragging rights." This free app is available for iOS and Android.Story Chaser

3. Mathway – Math Problem Solver

For most teens, homework includes math assignments. Many high schoolers take chemistry, too. Mathway can be a real timesaver, because it quickly generates answers to math and chemistry problems across a range of levels.

The Android and iOS apps (and the answers) are free; but to receive step-by-step solutions showing how to get the answers, the student must buy a subscription. Pricing for subscriptions depends on the time length of the subscription chosen. Still, the flat-rate subscription fees are easier for many teens (and parents) to deal with than the less predictable rates that developers of some homework helper apps charge for chatting with a math tutor.


4. Evernote

High school students also take tons of notes. The Evernote app lets the user jot notes on a mobile device during class lectures, and it gathers information from books or the web for research reports. The user interface revolves around a traditional paper-bound notebook concept.

Evernote’s chief competitor is Microsoft's OneNote, which is included in Office 2013 and Office 365. Each app has a big fan base, and each is multiplatform, running across both desktop and mobile operating systems. Unlike OneNote, however, Evernote provides consistent features across all apps. For example, stylus support—needed for handwriting on a touchscreen—is present in every Evernote app, but absent in OneNote's iOS app.

Evernote runs on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The basic app is free, but Evernote offers multiple in-app purchases as add-ons. Evernote's add-on web clipper tool, for saving web pages, is hard to beat. In both Evernote and OneNote, you can use a smartphone camera to scan in traditional paper-based written notes and class assignments.


5. Duolingo

Many students learn a foreign language in high school, and many colleges require applicants to have completed a certain number of years of high-school-level foreign language classes. Duolingo can help students learn more quickly by supplementing classroom instruction with the app's own lessons and special features.

Duolingo now supports 23 foreign languages, ranging alphabetically from Arabic to Vietnamese. Students can practice at their own convenience on their mobile devices, setting goals for practice of anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes per day. Special features include practice reminders, the ability to slow the speaker to hear words enunciated more clearly, and an option for more-advanced students to test out of lessons dedicated to basic skills. Duolingo can also help multilingual students pick up additional languages. This free app is available in Android and iOS versions.


6. Zinkerz Prep for SAT Test

SAT scores are so important to college admission that some students shell out lots of money for prep classes and even one-on-one tutoring. Test prep books cost something, too—and they're not as portable or interactive as an app.

The Zinkerz app is a pleasant contrast: It’s free, so kids have nothing to lose by trying it out; it offers 2500 questions with in-depth answers, SAT vocabulary flashcards, and four full practice exams; and it runs on either iOS or Android.


Photo credits:, Publisto, Apple.