Is music the key to acing your final exams?

For students, the most stressful time of the year can be significantly improved with the right studying playlist.

Whether you are listening to The Beatles or The Weeknd, music effects your brain while studying.

Research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 83% of students listen to music while studying. So, should you be listening to music this final exam season? Is listening to music beneficial to your studies? The answer to these questions is YES.

So you may want to consider listening to Youtube’s Top 5 Study Songs.

Relationship between emotions and concentration

Many of us, students, feel frustrated and stressed while preparing for exams. Thankfully, when it comes to this emotional part of studying, music can be advantageous.

Credit: Sanesco Health

When we listen to music, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel joy. That release of dopamine can reduce some of the stresses that comes with studying.

Music can also help us concentrate. Scientists have used brain imaging to study the effects of music on concentration. The images revealed that listening to music uses the same parts of the brain that are used when we are trying to be attentive and memorize.

“Music helps me feel concentrated while studying. It makes me feel more focused on my assignments,” said Erin O’Leary, ’19.

Effects of genre and style

When listening to music while studying and concentrating, the genre of music does not have much effect on our moods.

One student could be listening to a rap song, while another is listening to rock, but both students will experience the same effects from the music. So long as the music is considered enjoyable to the person listening, the listener will elicit a positive reaction, like the dopamine release.

But there are some aspects of the music listen that can negatively affect concentration, like whether the songs have lyrics. Music that contains lyrics adds a distraction while studying. Inherently, the listener focuses more attention on the lyrics, rather than their task.

A study conducted concluded that “speech is the number one cause of reduced productivity.”

Therefore, songs with lyrics have a similar effect. Because it does not contain words, classical music is an ideal genre to listen to while studying.

“When I study, I either listen to a Spotify focus playlist or I turn on soft, calm music that has lyrics. If I listen to songs I know, I get distracted by the lyrics and can’t focus,” said senior Sarah Hummel.

What about the volume?

To maintain a strong focus on working and studying, it may be believed that music volume should be kept low. The truth is that music should be at a moderate level because “it actually forces your brain to concentrate harder.”

Credit: Apple

A 70-decibel noise level, equal to that of a vacuum cleaner or a shower, is most effective because it blocks the brain’s normal thought processes and increases creative and productive thinking.

Music can help you relax, focus and remember what you need to know. In this final exam season, it is best for you to discover what style of music works best with your study habits.


Interested in joining the Sentinel staff? Reach out to our Editor, Kori Hines, at [email protected] to see how you can get involved.