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Homework Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

If you're not using these tools, you may be spending too much time on homework

Mar 30, 2018

The golden rule of homework is: “Work smarter, not harder”. Putting in more hours at your desk doesn’t automatically translate to a better grade. It’s what you do with the time that counts the most. If you’re struggling to get all your homework finished in a reasonable amount of time, you’re not alone. Time management, organization, and concentration can get you through most of your work, but there are also some secret homework help shortcuts that are completely free and legal and can help cut down on the time you spend struggling to get it done every night.


Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit, free homework help resource designed to give all students worldwide access to the resources they need to get a good education. If you’re stuck on a particular problem, you can search the site for an answer. The site has videos that clearly outline the idea behind what you need to know and often will help you get closer to solving the problem. If you’re struggling with a topic -- or the whole course -- before you get a tutor, visit the site and plug it in, along with up to three other subjects you’re taking. You’ll receive access to an entire course worth of informational lessons, illustrations, tests, and sample problems. You can even post questions and get answers on the site. 

Khan Academy also partners with the College Board to provide free personalized help for PSAT, SAT, GMAT and other standardized tests, and they provide info on applying to college, choosing a career, and finding sources of financial aid. 

Since Khan Academy is a non-profit resource, you can help out by holding a fundraiser to get donations and raise awareness at your school and in your community for this great resource.

You Can Learn Anything Video


Audio books

If you aren’t the fastest reader and have a lot of material to cover, you might want to try listening to the audio version. Many of the classic books assigned at school are available for free at Open Culture. Listen while you’re in the car on the way to school, going for a run, walking your dog, or cleaning your room and doing chores.

Speed reading

Speed reading isn’t just for geniuses. It’s actually really easy to learn in just a few sessions. If you do it right, you’ll get all the important information in less than half the time. Try a course like  Read Speeder and you'll be reading faster than ever!


Text edit programs

Have you ever written something for school and found you’ve spent more time formatting than actually writing? Sure you have. Everyone does! Formatting feels really productive -- getting margins and fonts and indentations and headings just right makes your work look good. Unfortunately, it’s the opposite of productive. When your work looks good on the screen, you don’t focus on the words. You get the illusion that it all must be perfect and correct, and you end up short-changing your work. Most computers and smart phones have a free text editor that lets you type in words and not worry about formatting. Write your assignment first with no formatting, and when everything sounds good and if you have time, you can spend a few minutes fudging with the margins.

Online editing software

When you’re done with a writing assignment and ready to edit, visit the Hemingway App website and paste in what you’ve written. The app will highlight complex sentences and common errors and show you where you can make your work more readable. Not only will it help you get a better grade on the paper you’re writing, it can make you a more efficient writer in the long term.

Help for Specific Classes

There are many subject-specific sites that offer free information for students to help expand what you learn in class and explain it from a different angle. Physics Central has answers to many commonly-asked questions and a series of graphic novels that explain the basic principles, and the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives can help break down math concepts for each grade. Discovery Education’s Web Math provides instant help on math problems through their searchable directory.

For overall facts, like when you’re getting to know your Greek Gods and Goddesses or need to know the ten major cloud types by altitude, Fact Monster  is a trusted resource that’s easy to navigate and understand at most grade levels. Just don’t get distracted by the fun games on the site!
Searching for a science project? Education.com lists more than 1600 projects and breaks them down by grade and subject. But to earn extra points on the science fair, follow the general instructions, then add your own twist to take it to the next level.


Online flashcards

Quizlet is a website and app that lets you create your own flashcards on any topic imaginable. You can also test yourself using quizlets that others have created. You can even search for study sets that use visuals, if you’re more of a visual learner. Beware -- the quizzes are user generated, so they’re not all accurate and not all great. Look for study sets that have been created by teachers, your fellow students, and verified creators, like Wordly Wise for vocabulary sets.

Automatic Citations

If you struggle with creating a bibliography, a site like Easy Bib can do the work for you and help you learn the right way to create a bibliography for web pages, books, textbooks, articles, and more.

Don’t dwell on something you can’t figure out

If you’re stuck on a question, give yourself a few minutes to try to figure it out then ask someone for help. If you can’t figure out how to solve a problem or answer a question within a few minutes, call a friend for help, or simply skip it and ask your teacher to go over it with you in an email or before class.

Have Your Say

Do you have any favorite secret teacher-approved tricks to get through homework more quickly? Share them in the comments below!