Listening to music while studying


I have got an important exam coming up soon and was wondering what people thought on listening to music while studying for tests, is it a distraction, or is it a helpful tool in studying? I personally have quite a short attention span and find in clears my thoughts, but if there were any major negative effects i wasn’t aware of, i would stop in a heartbeat.So whats your take on it?


Unless science has more to add, I think it depends upon the person. I hate any noise when studying, but my grandkids have ADHD, and it calms them and helps them focus. How about testing yourself. eg. study with music and do the same… different material… in silence. Write a summary of the info you studied. See if either method stands out. . If no difference, then I suggest you do whatever you enjoy. We do better when we enjoy the process.
Good luck in your exam

(Josh Cohen) #3

I listen to music when I’m working or studying. If I’m at a cafe (like now), I sometimes put on headphones without music, just to dampen the external noise a bit.

My favorite things to listen to while studying are lute/harpsichord music and 19th century piano music (Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Fauré, etc.). There aren’t words to distract me. Everyone is probably different though. :slight_smile:


A long time ago there was a book called, I believe, “superlearning” where the author recommended Largo movements of Baroque music. She seemed to think it might coordinate with some of the brain waves and make things more memorable.


I use music to drown out other noises when I practice on the train and subway. The music is less distracting than people talking and clipping their nails etc. When my brain is a bit foggy I feel that music also helps a bit to wake up my mind. I hear that people recommend music without vocals. I do not know if the type of music matters. I listen to death metal (no joke) that do not have have understandable vocals. I do not think there is a difference between times with and without music for me.


Listening to music while studying I do not think will benefit your recall, but I personally do because it makes studying less boring and I can do it for much longer.


Here are some links that I dug out of Evernote, in date sequence.

In summary:
– Silence is best, especially for serial recall (lists).
– If you can’t have silence, then music is better than “noise”.
– If you must have music, avoid vocals. These cause the brain to try (subconsciously) to decipher the vocals.
– Play music that you like, rather than music that you don’t like.

7 Apr 2010 The general conclusion seems to be that silence is best - but music is better than “noise”:

In the above link, if you hover your mouse somewhere between the rightmost text boundary and the scrollbar, you are presented with another dozen links.

8 Oct 2012. This article has 1 link, which in turn has 5 links, all saying different things - as usual. So you pays your money and you takes your choice:

1 Dec 2013 (1 reference). If you like the music, it helps; and if you don’t like music, it doesn’t help (or maybe it’s the other way round):

31 Jan 2015. the article refers to several other links.