Best online study tools for uni students from our PLAs

Looking for new ways to step up your study game online? These must-have study tools for Uni students all come highly recommended by La Trobe’s very own PLAs!

Learning from fellow students is a great way to get up-to-date info that’s relevant to you. Even better, the PLAs (or Peer Learning Advisors) are all top performers who have been specially trained to give advice.

You’ll find the PLAs via Zoom drop-in link every weekday afternoon at set times during the semester. Otherwise, read on to learn more about the best study tools to help you succeed at uni!

Make memorisation a breeze

Studying medicine, languages or law? “My tip would be to use an online spaced-repetition software for subjects where you have to memorise lots of facts,” says Hammad Shahin. Hammad uses Anki to memorise words and phrases in Indonesian. “It has in-built, powerful algorithms that stagger when I see the card automatically depending on how confident I felt in recalling a card,” says Hammad.

So how does it work? For each fact or vocab card, Anki users can click ‘again’, ‘difficult’ or ‘good’. Based on this, Anki adjusts the algorithm so that the card next appears in a few minutes, hours, days or even months – smart!

“I’ve been doing Anki while going for walks and getting exercise,” Hammad says.

Master your to-do list

Now that Semester 2 is well underway, you’ll need to make sure to stay on track with readings, lectures, quizzes and tutes across all your subjects. “If you’re someone who struggles with handling tasks, I highly recommend the project/task manager that I use, Todoist!” Hammad says. “I use the desktop and mobile Todoist applications to manage tasks in my personal and work life.”

By organising and prioritising his work into tasks, sub-tasks (and sub sub-tasks!), Hammad’s able to manage his busy schedule and make sure none of those crucial tasks get missed. It’s time to get organised!

Understand your finances (and grab that scholarship!)

For help with personal finances, Clayton Rowbotham recommends using the Budget Planner from MoneySmart.Gov.au. “I have found this resource extremely helpful in being able to reveal an analysis of all income and expenses you may have for a particular month which can help with budgeting,” Clayton says.

“A lot of the graphs can help show where the majority of your income is being spent to help you become more moneywise. This has also proven to be a great tool to use when applying for scholarships as it can reveal your financial need and deficit.”

Listen to the audio version

For English majors, Amy D’Amico recommends tracking down the audio version of your prescribed readings. “I love Audible and the free LibriVox.org audiobooks (a lot of them are available on YouTube)” says Amy. “Just search the book you want to listen to and you’ll often find a variation of voices, so you can pick which one you like. I’m listening to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley at the moment and the voice I found has a very nice light Irish accent.”

Take time out to meditate

“I’m not too big on apps,” says Marcus Piva. “However, I do think they can be of use for certain meditative practices throughout these difficult times. Headspace can be a very useful app to help students relax themselves from the continuous presence of assignments. Another one which I would definitely recommend is the Wim Hof Method which can be found on YouTube and again helps with mental health.”

Keep it simple – but study smarter

The world of online learning can be overwhelming. While it can be fun to challenge yourself with new study apps and software, sometimes you just want to make the standard tools you use every day (like Microsoft Word and Excel!) work best for you.

“I’ve been studying for the better part of a decade now, so I’ve got my own methods down that don’t rely on extra tools or apps,” says Amy Siobhan Millard. “I would recommend students make use of the text to speech function in Word. It’s handy when you get sick of reading your own writing out in your head, helps me catch any errors I might miss by just glossing over it.”

Excel also makes a handy time management tool. “On Excel there are a variety of different blank templates which you can access to create a 12-month calendar for the current year,” says Clayton. “I find this extremely helpful as it is easier to organise all of your assignments and commitments across the semester on one calendar where you can decrease the font size to have everything fit. It also allows for printing multiple copies for at home and in your folder at university.”

Submit perfectly polished essays and assessments

Do you know about Studiosity yet? Clayton explains! “Studiosity is a free 24/7 service whereby online tutors can guide assignments ranging from feedback on language, grammar, spelling and structure (but not content). I have personally found this resource helpful with heavily weighted essays as well as a second pair of eyes to double-check everything.” All La Trobe students can access Studiosity for free via the Learning Hub LMS.

Grammarly is another popular tool, says Clayton. “Grammarly is a free web browser and Microsoft Word extension which can detect grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. It can also provide additional recommendations which are part of a subscription to the service.”

Do remember to use Grammarly with caution. Clayton says that while he finds Grammarly useful as an additional tool to double-check his writing, he then cross-checks corrections with Microsoft Word. “This usually helps you determine what suggestions you should implement.”

For more fantastic study tips and individual assessment advice, get in touch with the Peer Learning Advisors today! Drop-in online Monday to Friday from 12-2pm and 4-6pm. Go to your LMS to access the Zoom link.