desk with laptop and playing best music to study to
Student Blog

Music to study to: does music help you study?

Music to study to: does music help you study? With exam season in full swing, we’ve found ways to make this time of year a little less heart-wrenchingly terrible… with music.

Whether that be classical, rock, or the top 50 on Spotify, there’s always at least a couple dozen white headphones at every library, and some bobbing heads and tapping feet to accompany it. Some people swear by its ability to help them focus, but others cannot stand even a little bit of noise while they study – so who is right?

Scientists don’t know

It turns out, it could be both. Like many psychological studies it is extremely difficult to draw any conclusive results when it comes to human research. This is simply a result of the many uncontrollable variables that are associated with human studies. Many claim listening to Mozart and Beethoven improves intelligence, there has been no scientific proof to back this up. In fact, it has been shown that people who find it difficult to multi-task actually perform poorer on tests when listening to music. However, when comparing a study group who was listening to music and one that just had general background noise, such as people coughing and passing cars, the former did better.

With studies happening left right and up, their conflicted results seem to only reemphasize the conclusion that there is no general answer to this question. To listen or not to listen. For some people listening to music seems to serve only to distract them, but for others it is a must. One general observation has been, that even amongst those that claim to do better listening to music, more neutral songs are more beneficial. Songs that you can’t resist the urge to dance along to, don’t tend to be terribly conducive to studying. 

Work out for yourself

Ultimately you know yourself better than some random scientist in a lab. So if you think you do better studying to music then, by all means, continue. Maybe not the top 100 dance hits of the 90s though! Whereas, if you need complete silence to focus, then don’t let others tell you they’re more intelligent because they listen to Bach (it’s all bogus). Sometimes it’s better to use your own judgement than something a paper is telling you to do.

Try out the Study genre on Spotify and see if any of their playlists help you work. In my experience music can relieve the intensity of revision and allow you to work for longer. But is not as useful when trying to remember a dense amount of material.

Written by Sophie Z.

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