My Favorite Study Tools

By Hayeon Lee ‘23

If you ever catch me studying in the library basement or having a study sesh with my friends at the Coop, you would immediately notice my highlighters, planner, and stationery strewn about on the table. I am obsessed with all things stationery, academic planners, study apps, and so on. I am that one person in the class with different highlighters for different annotations, and I am not ashamed!!!

However, there are certain products, apps, and methods of studying that I use that shine above the rest. In the spirit of midterm crunch season, I would like to share some of my favorite study tools that have kept me sane in these very busy times. Below are the top five study tools I found the most helpful throughout my Pomona academic career.

screenshot of Hayeon's thesis deadline calendar
My thesis deadline calendar!


Price: Free

Notion is a free app that you can use to manage projects, keep track of deadlines, and coordinate goals and deadlines. You can download this app from the Notion website, and there are many functions to organize your academic calendar and day-to-day life. Although I still use my analog, handwritten planner for most of my studies, I have found Notion particularly helpful in tracking my thesis deadlines. I also love that Notion is highly customizable to fit whatever long-term project I have worked on at the 5Cs! Notion has a learning curve due to its high customizability; there are a lot of keyboard shortcuts to learn and remember. However, there are many preset templates that people have already created and customized, and you can just copy and paste your projects in! Highly recommend it to anyone who feels their current organizing or deadline-tracking method is not working.

screenshot of Task to finish writing Voices articlePomodoro Method

Price: Free

The Pomodoro Method is a study method in which you work for 25 minutes and take a five-minute break. During the work cycle, you stay off your phone and try to remain as focused as possible on whatever task you are trying to complete. After four Pomodoro cycles (25 mins x 4), you take a longer, 15~30-minute break. I am the type of person who gets very sidetracked when trying to sit down and work for long periods. I start doing a reading for an English class, then remember that I had to reply to an email, then I go on my phone, browse through Instagram (just to check “really quick), and then, before I know it, I have spent an hour not doing what I was supposed to be doing. The Pomodoro Method has kept me on track and is currently keeping me on track as I write this article! If you struggle to stay on task during the midterm season, try Pomodoro-ing.

screenshot of to-do list with items highlighted in gray
My gray highlighter!

Kokuyo Mild Highlighters

Price: $5 for a pack of 5

Now, this is more for guilty pleasure, or if you want to treat yourself. My favorite highlighters have been the Kokuyo Mild Highlighters, and I live and die by my gray Kokuyo Mild Highlighter. Sometimes, finding the right highlighter or pen and investing in daily supplies help you to approach even your boring tasks with joy.


an example page of notes, black with white writingGoodNotes

Price: First 3 Notebooks (Free) / Complete App: $8.99

This is by far my favorite, digital note-taking app I have on my iPad. Although typing notes in class can be faster, taking notes by hand or annotating directly on the PDF page helps me remember/fully comprehend the topic. GoodNotes is especially handy because it registers your handwriting as a font, and you can search for different parts of your handwritten notes. In addition, you can customize your digital notebooks’ covers, and the app has an array of different highlighters, pens, and image functions to paste into your notes.

Office Hours

Price: Free

Now, I know what you are thinking. This isn’t a product that you can use! However, I decided to place it here because I find that office hours are a great study tool that many find intimidating to utilize fully. Office Hours create a space where you can directly ask the professor questions that you may have been hesitant to ask in a classroom setting or did not think of during the lecture. If you are too nervous about going inside the office, I find that professors respond to email questions. However, emails are nerve-wracking for me, and I overthink every line in my message. When I reflect on my Pomona College academic career, in-person office hours are the moments where my writing has grown the most.