Aim Higher: The Achieve Blog


Discover the top tools for high-performing students in this episode of the Achieve Tutorials vlog. From the iPad with Apple Pencil and the Notability app for note-taking, to the TI 84 calculator for math, these tools are game-changers. Learn about the Pentel Twist Erase mechanical pencil and the Ampad double sheet writing pads for a smooth writing experience. Don’t forget to have a reliable dictionary app on your phone. Join Pete as he shares his favorite tools to help you excel academically. Aim Higher with these essential resources.


0:00:03 : Hi, everyone. It’s Pete from Achieve Tutorials and today I want to share with you my favorite tools for high performing students. But before we get to that, if you haven’t subscribed or followed us, please do so. Okay, so let’s dive right in. But before we do, I just want to mention that I don’t receive any compensation from any of these products. These are just things that I happen to like a lot and I think work really well.

0:00:24 : Okay. The first item on my list is definitely the most expensive and out of reach for a lot of people. But if you can afford it, an iPad with an Apple Pencil and the Notability app are absolutely fantastic tools. Now, there are lots of alternative tablets out there. You can get other tablets with cheaper styluses, and you can use other notes apps like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote. There are lots of free note apps out there.

0:00:52 : I happen to really like Notability, and it’s only available on Apple devices, which is why I mentioned it here. So Notability is a really simple app to use that has lots of powerful tools. Handwriting notes or drawing in Notability is silky smooth. It’s a combination of good programming on Notability, and Apple’s really good user interface tools. With their Apple Pencil, the app can convert handwriting into text and can even convert handwritten math equations and formulas into beautifully printed math equations and formulas.

0:01:24 : One note on that is that the math formulas aren’t always perfect, and it’s kind of complicated to go in and edit them afterwards. But editing the text is really easy with notability, you can also record audio as you’re taking notes—with your teacher’s permission—of course. And one of the greatest features of this is as you’re reviewing your notes or going back over your notes or listening to the audio, you can tap anywhere in your notes, and the audio will jump to that section of the recording where you wrote those notes, so you can go back and review really easily.

0:01:57 : I use Notability every day with my students, and I can send them a PDF of notes I took or a Notability file if they happen to also have the Notability app. My next favorite tool is also relatively expensive. It’s a TI 84 calculator from Texas Instruments, and these cost anywhere from $100 to $140, depending on which model you get. I like the CE with color graphics. It’s actually really nice and very easy to use calculator.

0:02:25 : Some of the more complex calculators, like the TI 89 or the Ti Nspire, are actually a lot more complicated to use, and they just take more time not only to learn, but just to do some of the basic math you need to do. There are also some really good Ti 84 emulators on various App Stores. Some of them are free, some of them are paid. But those apps are a great way to sort of supplement your calculator when you only have your phone with you, you’ve forgotten your calculator.

0:02:51 : Usually teachers won’t let you use your phone in class, however. Well, this wouldn’t be my favorites list without my absolute favorite mechanical pencil, the Pentel Twist Erase III. I love these pencils. They last forever. You can replace the eraser, which is super long already and lasts for a long time, and they come in 0.5, 0.7 and 0.9 millimeter versions. I use the 0.9 millimeter with my students all the time because the drawing is really crisp and clean and dark and also don’t break the lead nearly as often.

0:03:24 : But for those of you who like the really fine point, the 0.5 millimeter is a fantastic option. Of course, to go along with your great pencil, you have to have a great pad of paper as well. And I’m a big fan of the Ampad double sheet writing pads. The college ruled is what I usually get. These pads are three hole punched. They have 100 sheets of paper in them, and they have a really thick backing, so you don’t need a clipboard if you just want to write on your pad of paper.

0:03:49 : The only trick is it’s a little tricky to get the hang of ripping pages cleanly off these pads, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really quite simple. And finally, something to have on your phone is a really good dictionary app. I would say definitely pay a small fee for the ad free version of the app because the ads can get really annoying. Some apps offer a low cost subscription model like the Miriam Webster dictionary, which I think is currently about $6 a year, and others have a one time fee, like my personal favorite, the Wordbook Universal, which is about $3.

0:04:21 : Perhaps the best overall dictionary is the Oxford Dictionary, but it’s kind of prohibitively expensive. Okay, so that’s it. My list of go to tools for high performing students. I hope you find them helpful and I will catch up with you the next time. Thank you for watching and for more information, you can go to our website for more videos on our blog, or subscribe to our YouTube or Instagram feeds. And don’t forget, Aim Higher.

Back to the main Blog

More Blog Posts: