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Class Test 2. We all saw the results during class on October 11. The grades were not all that impressive. Maybe you’re wondering how you can improve your grade for next time. Reflect: were you listening to music while you took the test?
Class Test 1. I took this test in complete silence in the library. I scored a decent grade, but I know I could’ve done better.
Class Test 2. I took this in my dorm room.
I live in a supplemental dorm with six other roommates. At times, I love it. At other times, I get a little frustrated. I love my roommates, but it was as if they conspired against me while I took this test. All of them were in the room at the same time, which is actually pretty rare. One was FaceTiming her friend and hysterically laughing. Another was watching a movie on her laptop without headphones in. A set of two were having a conversation and painting their nails on the floor. One was doing laundry and chores and talking on the phone simultaneously, and the last was heating up food, and the microwave was beeping and I heard crunching and chewing and shuffling. I hardly ever listen to music while I study or do work, but that was what I had to resort to so I could block out the sound; so I wouldn’t have to leave my room (I was feeling a bit lazy, okay?).
I ended up scoring an amazing score on Class Test 2! I was shocked. With all of these distractions masked by another distraction, my super loud music, I actually scored better on the test. I was mind blown!
Is listening to music beneficial to your studies?
My hypothesis is that my improved score was due to confounding variables or that my better score was due to chance. I normal cannot focus when I have music on.
A study I came across on Wiley Online Library, summarized also by Sheela Doraiswamy, suggests that my notion was correct. Music and background noise are actually distractions and do not improve test grades.
In this experiment, students were given tests where there were various background-noise circumstances. They took the tests in silence, a place in which there was a repeated word over and over and over again in the background, one where there was normal conversation occurring in the background, one where music the student liked was played in the background, and one where music the student disliked was played in the background.
The worst scores came from the place in which there was regular background conversation or with music (both music they liked and music they didn’t). So, assuming the results of the study imply causation, I guess I wasn’t really helping myself out when I switched from the distraction of my roommates to the distraction of my own music.
The students received the highest scores when one word was repeated over and over in the background, or when they were in complete science.
Perhaps the reason that I did better on Class Test 2 was because of confounding variables or chance after all, based on this study. I am certain that I spent much more time and was a bit more meticulous when answering questions on Class Test 2, attempting to improve from Class Test 1. For some reason, the music wasn’t damaging to my grade. I am certain the music was distracting me, though: once in a while, I caught myself zoning out and singing along to myself. If a song I didn’t like came on, I would skip through my music until I found a song I wanted to hear, and then it would take me a few minutes to re-focus on the test.
So based on the correlations of these studies and ignoring the strangeness of the incidence here where I did better on Class Test 2, you might want to try to take the next test in silence! Putting in more effort and taking the test where there are no distractions will probably get you a higher grade.