I was once told that listening to classical music makes you smarter. Naturally, I took this into consideration and listened to classical music before I took the SAT’s for the second time, even though I was unaware if this was actually true or not. Notably, I did in fact improve my score by 100 points, but this could have been from various other factors such as I already took the test before, so I had experience, I studied more, etc. Since I have been unsure of whether it was the classical music that helped me improve my score or not since I took the test two years ago, I decided to research more about the effects of listening to classical music, and if it does in fact make you smarter.
According to a research study in France, classical music does indeed make you smarter. In the study, 249 students were split into two groups. One group being a control group who listened to a lecture with no music playing, one group being the experimental group who listened to the same lecture, but with classical music playing in the background. After the lecture, the students from each group took a multiple choice test based on what they learned in the lecture. Notably, the students in the experimental group scored remarkably higher compared to the students in the control group. Naturally, the French researchers wondered why listening to this music had such an effect on the student’s test performances. Together, they hypothesized that the music put the students into an emotional state so intense that they were more responsive to the new things they were learning (Crotty 2014).
Another possible reasoning for the higher test scores in the experimental group could be due to a reduction in anxiety from listening to the music, and according to a study from the Duke Cancer Institute, classical music does in fact lessen anxiety. In this study, men undergoing stressful biopsies were played Bach during their procedures, and reportedly had no spike in diastolic blood pressure, plus reported less pain than men who were not played Bach during their procedures. Although this study didn’t determine if the lessened anxiety was due to the fact the subjects were listening to music in general, or specifically classical music, a study conducted by scientists at the University of San Diego determined this answer. In this study, 75 participants had to execute a hard three-minute mental task. After the three minutes, participants were randomly chosen to either listen to classical music, jazz, pop, or no music at all. It was found that the participants who listened to classical music had a much lower systolic blood pressure than the other participants who listened to the other styles of music or who listened to no music at all.
In conclusion, it is clear that classical music does in fact you smarter. Whether it is due to the fact that it helps you be in an intense emotional state and thus make you focus better, or that it lessens anxiety, or a mixture of the two, I highly suggest the next time you have a test, you listen to classical music beforehand.