Can music help you study?

There are few things in life that aren’t improved by music. Nights out, coffee catch-ups, gym workouts, the vibe is always better when the music’s right. When it comes to study, over 60% of students listen to music while they’re working. But does music actually make your sessions more productive?

There are few things in life that aren’t improved by music. Nights out, coffee catch-ups, gym workouts, the vibe is always better when the music’s right. When it comes to study, over 60% of students listen to music while they’re working. But does music actually make your sessions more productive?

How does music positively affect our learning?

Music is more than just beautiful sound. It has a powerful effect on our mood and motivation, and it’s been proven to make an impact on our blood pressure and heart rate. So, it’s safe to say that the right music could certainly help us stay relaxed while we study. It could also help with that overwhelm we often feel when faced with a lot of work or a stressful period like exams.

We know that listening to music activates both left and right sides of our brains, and when both sides are working our learning and memory can be improved. Another potential benefit of some study music is that it can help distract your brain from background noises like café chatter, freeing up space in your working memory and helping you focus more easily.

Are there any negative effects?

It’s not all good news for music lovers out there. Music can be distracting, particularly if it’s fast, loud or has lots of lyrics. Our working memory can only process so much information at once and music an add to the load, making our brains overstimulated.

There are two groups who are especially vulnerable to this. Musicians themselves tend to listen to music very attentively so they’ll find it harder to keep their focus on a study task if there is any type of music, even in the background. The second group of people who’ll likely feel this effect is introverts. Studies have shown they are more susceptible to distraction from background music, possibly because they’re more easily overstimulated.

So, what, if anything, should we include on our study playlists?

If the sound of silence while you study is either unachievable or unappealing to you, don’t despair. You can certainly enjoy the benefits of study music if you follow a few guidelines to get the best from your study playlist:

  1. Avoid songs with lyrics
  2. Keep the volume low
  3. Tunes with 60-70bpm have been shown to be optimum for study
  4. Try classical, electronic, lowfi hip hop or chill jazz genres
  5. Experiment with cosy ambient or nature sounds to match your mood

Top tip: why not use your playlist as a timer for the ultimate study focus time. Create a 40-60 minute playlist and when the music stops, you know to take a break.

Read more ACAP articles

We know that to help others with their mental roadblocks, our students need to understand the role adversity plays in people’s lives and how they can overcome these challenges. Studying with us could be your calling to help change the lives around you.
Find out more

Apply Now
I'm applying as a

Domestic Student

I'm applying as an

International Student