Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Listening to Music While You Study

Many students, high school and college alike, enjoy listening to music while the study. But does music really help students while they’re cramming for tomorrow’s mid-term or does it create an unconscious distraction?

The answer to this question is twofold. First, it depends on the way you listen to the music and second, it depends on the type of music you choose to listen to. In several university studies, it has been shown that those students who listen to music through headphones are less likely to retain and remember the information they are studying. On the other hand, students who listen to music being played in the background of their environment, often recall their studied information much easier. This is because headphones, being so close to our ears, have direct access to our brains, which can interfere with our ability to learn new and difficult information. Reversely, background music is perceived by the brain almost like an intruder. The student then focuses more intently on the information being studied, tunes out the music and in turn, is able to retain the information much easier. Also, when the brain registers familiar music in the background, it almost entirely blocks it out because it is perceived as expected sound with expected rhythms.

The other piece of this puzzle involves the type of music students listen to while they study. Because music elicits feelings and emotional responses from us, it is important for students to choose the right music to study with. Not all music is created equal. Research studies have shown that students that listen to instrumental and classical music while they cram are more likely to remember the information they’re studying and score higher on their homework or tests. Studies also suggest that students who listen to rock music show elevated signs of anxiety, anger and arousal, all emotions that are not conducive to a good study environment.

Creating the right study environment can make or break a student’s chance of passing an important test. Be sure to choose the music wisely, set it to a soft and pleasant background volume and try to relax. And if you are a student that does not enjoy listening to any music while you study, don’t worry! Find the best cramming situation that works for you and stick with it. Everyone is different and so are their study habits.

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