Feature Article

April 22, 2013

Is iStudyPlan the Solution for Your Slacker Study Habits?

One night when I was an undergraduate, I stayed up late studying for a biology exam. My alarm went off at 6 a.m. the next morning, but I didn't wake up.

My roommate tried to talk to me to urge me to get out of bed. According to her, I mumbled something about sugar molecules before rolling over and going back to sleep. I eventually woke up and took the test with good results.

If you're like me, you've had a lot of these late nights as a university student. They're usually accompanied by pizza and a lot of coffee or Red Bull. An app called iStudyPlan aims to eliminate these evenings in favor of—gasp—regularly scheduled studying.

iStudyPlan, which is available for Android and iOS, creates a customized study schedule for you. Start by inputting your exam dates. Then, input the number of hours that you want to study toward the exam each day. For instance, you can adjust your allotted study hours according to your work schedule, or you can adjust it if you want to take the weekend off.

You can choose to repeat your study plan twice if going over the information twice before the exam keeps your memory fresher. Also, you can choose "normal" study mode or "revision" study mode. The latter allows you to devote more study time to the subject in the weeks before the exam.

In addition, you can create reminders and notes for each topic. If you get behind schedule, then the app will redistribute your study hours to accommodate the shortened schedule. A bar graph tracks your progress so that you can see how well you are meeting your study goals.

The app works fine. It's attractive and easy to navigate. But here's the question that I have: How many of you have taken your syllabi at the beginning of the semester and worked to create elaborate study calendars out of them? My next question: How many of you have actually stuck to the schedule that you made?

I make schedules, but I end up studying at the last minute anyway. A nifty bar graph charting my progress isn't enough to compel me to hit the books every night.

Maybe you could pair up iStudyPlan with Aherk. Aherk is an app that has you upload embarrassing pictures of yourself and then set a goal. If you don't meet your goal (for example, studying five nights a week), then Aherk transmits the photos to your social network.

The next frontier for developers is to create an app that actually motivates you to study. Until then, get some pizza coupons and stock up on Red Bull. Chances are, you're going to need both.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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