School, College or University – if you are a student then you know how it feels to carry around a vast amount of equipment all day every day. From papers to books to pens and calculators, you name it you probably have it stashed away in your bag. However, maybe it is time to forget some of these things and leave them behind by turning your focus to your tablets and smartphones.

So take your student experience to the next level by downloading the following apps – all of which are free!

Google Play Books

Did you know you could rent textbooks on Google Play, instead of buying them? You get to keep them for 180 days, and you don’t even need an Android tablet to read them and take notes—Google Play Books is available for iPhone and iPads as well asAndroid devices.

With their convenient size and long battery life, tablets and phones are perfect for reading your books—and think of how much lighter your backpack will be. If you desperately need to read a textbook on your laptop, you can even download a PDF, although restrictions make this less than ideal. Not having to spend hundreds of dollars on books you might read once—or worse, expensive books that the professor only assigns one chapter of—is the very definition of “ideal.” A definition you can even get inside the Google Play Books app.

Pocket Points

Who doesn’t like free stuff? This innovative app rewards you for paying attention in class! The way it works is simple. You turn off your phone when you’re in class and gain points for the amount of time your phone is turned off. These points can then be used at local businesses around your University. For any cash strapped student, this app can be an absolute life saver and on top of that you can expect higher grades for paying attention in class!

Evernote

The ultimate note-taking app, Evernote is perfect for students. You can digitize and search notes you took on paper. It’s fully cross-platform, with an app for every device and an extension for every browser. And it’s incredibly powerful.

The Evernote apps for the iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android have some unique skills, too. You can use the device’s camera to create a new note by snapping a picture, say, of a classmate’s notes, or the office hours posted on your professor’s door. Any text visible in those images becomes searchable, and Evernote can also keep track of where each picture was taken, too. Tons and tons of other apps let you save things to your Evernote account—a few of our favorites include Drafts for iOS, the cross-platform image-annotation tool Skitch, and the wildly flexible IFTTT.

Merriam- Webster Dictionary

This is a dictionary that is there for you all the time on your mobile phone. There is no need to carry around a pocket dictionary because this is all you need right here. While it is easy to google a word to find out its meaning, sometimes you do not have internet connection to do so. This app works offline with results appearing quickly with definitions, word origins, synonyms and antonyms. An audio feature will also show you how the word is pronounced.

Dragon Microphone

Dragon NaturallySpeaking for PC and Dragon Dictate for Macare extremely powerful speech-to-text tools that will let you dictate your notes and research papers instead of typing them word by word. They learn your voice to improve accuracy over time, and handy transcription features can even attempt to turn an audio file of a recorded lecture into text.

The free companion app, Dragon Remote Microphone for iOS and Android turns your phone into a wireless microphone, perfect for pacing circles around your tiny dorm room muttering about 19th century French literature. If you can stammer out a first draft at least, you’ll avoid the dread of staring at a blank page trying not to think of the term “writer’s block.”

AudioNote

So where do you get those audio files of your lectures for Dragon to transcribe? Try AudioNote, $5 for Android or iOS. (Developer Luminant Software offers versions for Mac and Windows too.

The built-in voice recorder can capture your lecture or small-group discussion, while you jot down notes that are automatically synced up to the recording. Later you can just tap a note to jump to that part of the recording. That means you no longer have to worry about scribbling down everything important that’s said, and you can be more present in the discussion instead of focusing on taking detailed notes. You can email the notes and audio files together or separately.

CamScanner

Are you tired of carrying around stacks of papers? Are you fed up of spending out lots of money on photocopies? If so this is the mobile app for you. This handy little app allows you to take photos of pages and handouts. It works like a mini scanner and the setting enhance the text making it easier to read. You can add notes to the file and also save copies in PDF format so you can share them.

Quickoffice Pro HD

Quickoffice Pro HD isn’t cheap—it’s $20 for Android tablets and the iPad, and the smaller-screen, non-HD version is $15 for Android phones and the iPhone. But if you really need to create and edit Microsoft Office files (that’s Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations) on the go, it’s just the thing you need. Quickoffice integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Box, SugarSync, and a few more cloud services, so wherever you park your files, you’ll be able to access, edit, and share them with this app. And while the interfaces take a little while to get used to, they’re well designed and generally free of clutter. Now that Google purchased Quickoffice, it’s coming to Chrome too.

iAnnotate

There is no longer a need to print out documents and add your own notes to them because choosing to use this app will allow you to make notes, comments and mark PDF files. The app makes it possible to open multiple tabs which makes it possible to switch between documents without having to close others.

My Exams

These days we have to remember a lot of things. Passwords, PIN numbers and birthdays so remembering deadlines and exam dates can be rather tricky. This app provides you with a countdown for all of your tests and submission dates but it also offers a to-do list function for each event making it simple to plan.

ZotPad and Zandy

Our roundup of must-have desktop software for students includes Zotero, a cross-platform tool for managing a library of scholarly articles and creating citations from them to insert into your own research papers. Guess what? There’s a mobile app for that too.

ZotPad, $10 for iOS, lets you access anything in your Zotero library from your iPhone or iPad, syncing via the Zotero server, your own WebDAV server, or even Dropbox. It’s a great way to keep up with your reading while you’re commuting to and from campus.

Android users should try out Zandy, a $2 app that lets you view and edit your Zotero items and their file attachments, and add new items to your Zotero library.