PDFpen is a great tool for students.

PDFpen for Students: How to Learn Better with our PDF editor for Mac

Mastering new content isn’t easy. Studies show that our brains are more likely to forget than retain new information.

Also, many techniques we grew up thinking were helpful for absorbing new content aren’t effective – at least not on their own.

When it comes to learning, then, students need all the help they can get. In this article, we’ll explore the ways in which PDFpen can be used as a tool for organizing reading materials and studying. 

Using PDFpen to Organize Study Materials

1. Capturing Useful Information

PDFpen helps students turn scattered pieces of information into usable content.

Using PDFpen, students can turn scans of book pages and photos of handwritten notes into PDF files, then perform optical character recognition on them to work with their content.

Say you’re a student doing research for an Art History paper. You visit a museum and take photos of the labels underneath the artworks.

Rather than manually typing this info, you can use PDFpen to turn the photos into PDF files you can perform OCR on. As soon as OCR is complete, the text becomes selectable, editable, and searchable. You can edit it directly or copy and paste it elsewhere.

With PDFpenPro, students can generate PDFs from webpages, websites, and social media profiles, too. This is very useful for preserving information that, as is common on the internet, has the risk of being deleted.

2. Combining and Customizing Study Materials

Students often have access to entire anthologies, compilations, and books when what they are really focusing on is a specific story, chapter or article. Using PDFpen, they can alter a PDF document to keep just what they need.

In addition to removing pages that don’t serve them, they can also export pages from one PDF file to another and merge PDF files. You can find out more by checking out this article: ”How to Combine PDF Files and Extract Pages from a PDF.”

Essentially, the ability to take PDF files apart and mix them in new ways gives students the freedom to customize study materials to best suit their needs.

3. Storing Study Materials in One Place

Keeping all study materials in one place helps ensure that nothing gets lost and makes integrating the content in all the materials easier.

PDFpenPro enables students to group their files through a feature called Create Portfolios. Portfolios are like folders where you can store related PDFs. You can easily share a PDF portfolio with other people, including Windows users – they’ll be able to open it and view the files as long as they have either PDFpen, PDFpenPro or Adobe Reader.

If you use Evernote, you can also opt to export PDF files directly from PDFpen to an Evernote notebook.

Using PDFpen for Studying and Learning

4. Inspectional Reading, or Pre-reading Before Class

When it comes to tackling mandatory reading for classes, students tend to go one of two ways. Some try to get ahead by doing in-depth reading prior to classes over weekends or breaks. Others do their best to catch up before exams. 

The Learning Strategies Center at Cornell University recommends a third, and better, alternative: previewing mandatory reading before class.

Previewing means outlining a book or article to get a sense of its structure. It means looking at titles, headings, and complementary items such as boxes, lists, pictures, graphs, summaries, and objectives to get a superficial understanding of the topics covered.

When students preview reading material before class, then listen during class for words and concepts they are already vaguely familiar with, they increase their chances of retaining the content they’re learning.

PDFpen’s basic annotation features are useful for inspectional reading. Students can use PDFpen to highlight, underline, and add squiggles to titles and headings, which they can then export and print.

If using PDFpenPro, they can select these titles and headings to create a table of contents that will further cement their knowledge of the document structure.

Screencast by Luc P. Beaudoin

5. Analytical Reading

According to “How to Read a Book,” by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, there are four levels of reading. Analytical reading is the third level, and it involves determining what a book or an article is about, interpreting its contents, and criticizing it. 

Studies show that it’s not enough to read a document over and over, or even to highlight its main passages. To truly learn from reading materials, students need to engage with the content they’re reading: to summarize it in their own words; to agree or disagree with the author, and so forth.

PDFpen’s more advanced annotation features serve this purpose well. Students can use PDFpen to add written and audio comments to text passages, recording their thoughts and questions as they read.

6. Integrating Class Notes with Reading Material

The Learning Strategies Center at Cornell University suggests that it’s important to integrate different materials after class. That means comparing notes taken in class with what’s in the required reading.

You look at your notes, then go back to the required reading to fill in gaps and clarify information.

You can easily incorporate notes taken during class into a PDF document using PDFpen: just use PDFpen’s text boxes to add complementary text.

7. Quizzing Yourself

In the book “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning,” author Peter C. Brown describes active retrieval as an essential learning technique. In plain terms, it means quizzing yourself as you learn.

Although an unconventional use of PDFpen, students have reported using the redaction feature to block out answers to problems in their textbooks. Note that PDFpen’s redaction feature permanently removes text from PDF documents, so this is an extreme measure for those students who can’t trust themselves to not cheat.

Other Useful Features for Students

Studying is a full-time job, and students can always benefit from tools that help them become more efficient. 

PDFpen makes filling out forms and signing documents a breeze and has an extensive collection of proofreading marks that can make revising academic articles easy, whether you’re on a Mac, an iPad or an iPhone.

Discounts for Students

We support students by offering special discounts on PDFpen and PDFpenPro. To learn more, visit our Education Store.