Cool Note-Taking Apps and Study Hacks for Your Teen’s School Year

Awesome tools to help your teen take notes, study more efficiently and stay organized

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Cool Note-Taking Apps and Study Hacks for Your Teen’s School Year

Written by: Marybeth Bock

I think nearly every parent will agree that the academic pace today’s teens have to endure is far more intense than it was when we were growing up. 

I don’t remember having nearly as much homework as kids do today and I definitely don’t remember being as overwhelmed or stressed out as they are about grades, ACT/SAT scores, and getting into college. Times have definitely changed. 

Whether your teen is in middle school, high school or college, we all want to help our kids start the year right, help them succeed and (hopefully) relieve at least some of their stress. That’s why I dove in and researched apps that can help make their lives a little easier. 

From cool note-taking apps to the best study hacks around, here are a few ways your kids can boost their academic productivity, get and stay organized and make school a little easier.

Cool Note-Taking Apps and Study Hacks for Your Teen’s School Year


5 Most Popular Note-Taking Apps

A lot of students today use iPads to take notes in class. Some schools even provide tablets for students to make note-taking, homework and communicating with teachers easier.

However, even if your child doesn’t have access to an iPad or a school-provided device, many note-taking apps can be used on an iPhone or laptop. Check out these cool note-taking apps that are designed to make homework easier!

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote is widely used by students who use a mix of Apple and non-Apple devices. A lot of colleges and universities will provide their students with a free subscription to Microsoft Office which includes OneNote.

In this app, it’s easy to create a separate notebook for each class, and within the notebooks, your student can make tabs, edit PDF files, insert photos, and add notes under their Outlook account. If your teen has a Mac, they can also easily take notes on their computer.

GoodNotes 5

This app is perfect for replicating the experience of taking notes with a traditional pen and paper. It converts handwriting to text and is capable of recognizing someone’s handwriting – even when they can’t! A student can search within their notes, resize their handwriting, choose from a variety of paper templates, and even create flashcards. This app will also transform hand-drawn shapes into geometrically perfect ones. They offer three free notebooks and once those are used up, there is a $7.99 one-time fee for unlimited notebooks.

PDF Expert

This powerful app makes it easy to organize, annotate and edit PDF files. Users can import files from their computer or the cloud, then complete forms, add freehand drawings and audio notes and more. On an iPad, modifying a PDF’s text is as simple as using a word processor, and all of the original content remains intact. PDF Expert also lets you create a new PDF from scratch as well as convert documents, images, and web pages to PDFs. 


Notability is one of the top-rated apps worldwide because it allows users to really get creative. The app itself is free for basic note-taking but requires a yearly $11.99 subscription for most features. It’s definitely worth it if your teen likes creating themes, stickers, and customizable backgrounds for their study notes. They can also record and replay audio recordings of lectures and tap anywhere on the notes to hear what was said at that moment and they can share ideas in a presentation mode.

Apple Notes

This is a free app that’s automatically downloaded on any iPhone, iPad, or Mac. It’s very user-friendly and it integrates with a user’s Apple Calendar and Reminders, which is great for students keeping track of tests and assignment dates. It will also work with Siri, can scan documents and lock notes, and will allow a user to collaborate with others. You and your teen should check out this great article from 9to5Mac: “7 Things to know for using Apple Notes on iPhone to its full potential.”

Another way to help your teen prepare for their classes this year is to assist them in finding some study hacks that work well for them. With only so many hours in the day and with all those extracurricular activities taking up their precious time, we all want our kids to work smarter, not harder.

6 Terrific Study Hacks from TikTok 

Yep, TikTok isn’t just dancing videos and influencers peddling their favorite products. It’s also chock full of innovative study hacks from students and education experts from around the world.

Check out just a few of them here:

#1 Math whiz @ludus suggests using the Pomodoro Technique for long study sessions. The key to avoiding burnout is to study for no longer than 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Repeat this four times and then take a 30-minute break.

It’s extremely helpful to get in some whole-body movement during the short breaks, so suggest to your teen that they go for a quick walk, do some jumping jacks, or maybe even get up and dance to a couple of their favorite songs. 

Check out this article that offers a great introduction to the Pomodoro Technique

#2 The account @usefulstudyhacks shares this great tip for students trying to remember facts for a test. Record yourself reading your notes aloud and listen to the recording multiple times leading up to an exam. Listening to facts and concepts helps your brain remember them better and your teen can listen to their notes while doing other activities like exercising or tackling chores. 

#3 Did you know that transparent sticky notes are a thing? I didn’t until I saw them on TikTok being used by @thatrelatablestudent. Teens can utilize these by easily drawing over diagrams and charts from a textbook and then adding the sticky notes to their notebooks or a study sheet. (You can buy them here from Amazon.)

#4 A great suggestion for learning foreign language vocabulary comes from @study_stuff. They recommend putting bright sticky notes all over the house with the words for everyday objects placed on them. That way, whenever your teen is walking around just doing their daily stuff, they are visually reminded of the correct vocabulary and proper spelling for those objects. 

#5 Dr. Sarah Rav, MD., whose popular account @sarahrav has tons of excellent study tips, suggests an active recall activity like making flashcards to help teens study facts for any subject. Using different colored cards for concepts they know well vs. ones they still need to work on can help better organize their study sessions. They can then use these flashcards with a small group of friends in a mock game show format to increase memory and make studying more fun. 

#6 Lastly, there’s no doubt that phones and tablets have become the go-to note-taking method for many students. But, some experts agree that your brain actually benefits from an old-fashioned pen and paper. Check out @happydownloads to learn how to do handwriting to text on an iPad. 

Teens can easily search for more study tips by following these tags on TikTok: #studyhacks, #studytips, #studysmarter and #examhacks

May this year be the best one yet for your teens!

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.



If you enjoyed reading, “ Cool Note-Taking Apps and Study Hacks For Your Teen’s School Year,” check out these other posts!

Disorganized and Distracted: 6 Tips to Help Your Teen Tackle Homework with Confidence

10 Smart Study Habits to Help Your Kids Ace Their Classes

Straight-A Study Skills for Teens to Kickstart the School Year Right

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