News + Issues

A review of study-aid technologies

The days of conventional notes and textbooks are a thing of the past with these modern technology applications.


When I look around the classroom, I see faces lit up by screens, most using the OneNote application. OneNote has changed the way I take notes, study and share information with my classmates. It is a great tool to organize different courses and lectures into tabs and folders. The program is user-friendly and allows users to easily upload PowerPoint presentations or PDFs. Once a lecture is uploaded, I can manipulate the material during class. I can type notes in the margins, highlight text and make freehand annotations. Live audio recording allows you to record lecture material. The feature embeds the recording in the slide so you can listen to it later. If your educational institution offers lecture capture options to its students, you may want to take full advantage of this!

Another advantage is the ability to share and collaborate with classmates. Small groups of us will share an account and create notes and outlines together online. The lectures and notes update instantly as we study and annotate the slides. Changes can be viewed as they occur.

I pay $1.99 a month to back up my entire OneNote account to OneDrive. This way, I know that my data is safe. I can also access the data from anywhere. My classmates also use OneDrive so we can collaborate as a class by uploading outlines, textbooks, useful YouTube links and other study materials. OneDrive allows for fast and convenient sharing with a group of people.


For those of you who like more active studying with flashcards, Brainscape is a user-friendly resource that you can use online, on your iPhone or iPad, or on your Android device. The flashcards are simple to create, and making up the study questions can supplement the study process. As you respond to the questions, you rank how well you know the answer. The app shuffles and repeats the difficult cards more frequently until you know the information. Rather than aimlessly scrolling through lecture after lecture, Brainscape tracks your progress. By using the application, you can be confident that you are retaining the information. Another great feature is the ability to share the flashcards with others. You can track your progress and view your friends’ progress on each set of flashcards, which can help motivate you to study.

The basic version of the app is free. The premium subscription, which includes features such as adding images and other study modes, costs $2.99 per month for one year.

Other flashcard applications such as Anki and Quizlet have similar features. Anki’s features include online cloud synchronization among devices, an algorithm-based study mode to show more difficult cards more often, and more comprehensive statistics and graphs of your study results when compared with the other flashcard applications. This app includes a membership fee of $24.99.

With Quizlet, I like the alternate study modes. You can set the cards to make you type the answers rather than click through them. Another setting flips the cards to show the answer first, rather than the question. There are even fast-paced game options for quizzing yourself in a more interactive way. Quizlet has a free basic account and a premium version available for a monthly fee.

If you’re a predental student, there are lots of tools for you, too. Take advantage of DAT study material discounts.

Technology enhances our ability to study by improving the way we interact with peers and share information. Using these apps to help make studying more efficient and organized, as well as to collaborate with my classmates, has helped my exam preparation and changed the way I study the challenging material in dental school.

For more life hacks to help you get through the school year, check out ASDA’s past Life Hacks Week posts. If you have hacks you’d like to share, leave a comment!

~Taylor Squires, Buffalo ’19

Taylor Squires

Taylor is a third-year dental student at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. Before dental school, he received a degree in chemistry from Binghamton University. He currently serves as the Buffalo ADEA chapter president and the Alpha Omega chapter vice president. He enjoys working as a pre-clinical tutor and hopes to pursue a career in private practice as well as education. Outside of school, he enjoys playing guitar, singing and cooking.

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