Does music help you study?

There isn’t a time in the day where I would ever turn down listening to music. Music is something that bring people together regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Music is like a universal language that all people can understand. So when you’re in your dorm and can hear someone screaming in the room next to you, the toilet flushing every minute because it’s across the hall from your dorm, the elevator screeching up and down, and you have 3 tests next week… what do you do? I put my headphones on and get to work.


According to the article by Sheela Doraiswamy studies have shown that listening to music before a task such as studying can approve attention, memory, and mental math ability. Another study was done at The University of Wales that tested students with 5 different scenarios… a quiet study area with no music, one single repeated word played during the duration of the time studying, 9 of the same words repeated said over and over to the student wile studying,  studying with songs that student liked, and lastly a song the student didn’t like which in this case was death metal repeatedly played during the duration of the student studying. After students took the test the scientists were surprised to find no significant difference in the outcomes of the tests. Not surprisingly the student who studied with no music at all scored the highest on the test.

According  to Professor Clifford Nass from Stamford University there is a negative effect on student who listen to music with lyrics while trying to study for english or writing. This is not such a problem when the student is studying for math due to the fact that you’re not using your language side of your brain. According to another article I found although listening to music isn’t as hard as solving a problem or studying for an exam, our brains still uses energy to process the sound waves into our nervous system whether we are focused on the music or not. The same researchers  also found that students who are studying for an exam and listening to music tend to retain the information better on exam day if they are listening to the same music while taking the exam. Unfortunately unless you’re the one administering the test to yourself I don’t think there is any teacher out there that would let you listen to music while taking a test.


Personally I can’t study while listening to homework because I simply get too distracted by the music. What’s your preference? Does music get you distracted or does it make study more enjoyable?


First picture found here.

Second picture found here.

6 thoughts on “Does music help you study?

  1. Zachary Jacob Himel

    I’m not sure how I would get through my days without listening to music. This proves to be an issue when trying to get work done because I always feel that I will enjoy my work more if I can listen to music. I’ve also noticed that this does not work well. Switches in the tempo of the music throw off my focus. If a part of a song comes on that I enjoy, I will most likely lose my train of thought on the work at hand. I used to think I needed music to study but recently learned that I just didn’t want to study if I wasn’t listening to music. Now I know that I get most work done while listening to music.

  2. Charlotte Anderson

    I was always amazed and a bit jealous of my friends that could multitask while listening to music. Whenever I would try, I would end up writing the song lyrics instead of what I actually needed to write. I understand that there are different parts of the brain so music does not effect it, but to me I always feel distracted. I found this article really interesting which explains why some people are unaffected by music while others are.

  3. Wencong Wang

    It is a great post! I like to listening to music and study. Because in my high shcool, people always so loud and make lots of noise. I have to wear headphone and listen to music in order to study. But it lead to a problem, that is sometimes music will make me distracting from study. While I listen to music, I feel I can not foucus my mind to study. Sometimes it makes me inefficient and lower my accuracy. But sometimes, listen to music can makes me relax and improve my attention on homework. I do not know hwy this happens, maybe it is some third variables make this difference. Here is a fun video talks about this. Hope it can help you with your topic!

  4. Evan Michael Wentzel

    This is relative to me, because I often listen to music to try and block out the outside world when studying. It seems like the studies you refer to could be carried out better, but regardless your post still provides some good data that suggests it is likely to be more beneficial to study without music, and it definitely makes me think about changing my study habits.

  5. Maria Jean Conti

    This blog is very well written and very informative. It’s so interesting to me that you’re able to listen to music while you study math, because you’re not using the language part of your brain. I was also immediately drawn to this blog because one of my blogs talked about the difference between the effects of music while studying on introverts vs. extroverts, which showed that extroverts benefitted from music more than introverts did.

  6. Francis Patrick Cotter

    Music can be really distracting while studying. Here is the equivalent: Try to say the alphabet with the corresponding number after it (for example, A..1.. B.. 2.. C.. 3..). It is very difficult to do quickly. It demonstrates how difficult it is for your brain to balance multiple inputs. This is especially true of music with lyrics. However, classical music can help you study because it does not have lyrics.

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