Does music help you study?
The short answer: it can. Maybe. The study results are pretty varied.
Listening to music while you study can be beneficial. It can help to improve attention, memory and math skills, all while reducing stress. Students who study with music they like may enjoy it more than those who study in silence. This means that they’re more likely to study for longer.
But, it depends on the music.
Music can also have a detrimental impact on your ability to memorise and reading comprehension. It can mean lower test scores and more disruption.
It depends on the person. If you’re the type to be easily distracted or struggle to multitask, they listening to music is probably not for you. Whether you’re introverted or extraverted may also be relevant.
One study suggests that listening to music is less distracting than ambient noise in a library, for example. So bringing along a device and headphones may be your best bet for staying focused if you’re studying at uni.
So what type of music should you listen to?
Research shows that there’s no difference between listening to music you don’t or do like. It needs to be relaxing, but not so relaxing that it sends you to sleep (i.e. pick something with a good beat). Music that is too loud or too fast will be distracting. Music without lyrics is the best choice – classical, acoustic, movie scores or video game soundtracks are all good options.
Remember, the best environment is often a quiet one. And as with most things, the answer is usually to do what suits you. Try a few different types of music and study environments to find the one that suits you best.
- Study in silence where you can.
- If you’re bored, in a bad mood, eager to stop studying or in a noisy space (even if it’s just other people eating or walking around), listen to music.
- When you listen to music while studying, listen to music without lyrics with a relatively upbeat and predictable tempo.
- Keep the music low – quieter than how you would normally listen to it.
- Experiment and see what works for you.