Is it Good to Listen to Music While Studying?

Instructor: Nicky Davis
Music can have both positive and negative effects on studying, depending on the student and the type of music. Read on to learn how academic performance and cognition can be affected by music, and how to improve your own study habits.

Benefits of Studying with Music

More and more, students are bringing headphones with them to libraries and study halls. But does it actually help to listen to music when studying? While the so-called 'Mozart effect', a term coined from a study that suggested listening to music could actually enhance intelligence, has been widely refuted, there are still many benefits of listening to music while studying:

  • Music that is soothing and relaxing can help students to beat stress or anxiety while studying.
  • Background music may improve focus on a task by providing motivation and improving mood. During long study sessions, music can aid endurance.
  • In some cases, students have found that music helps them with memorization, likely by creating a positive mood, which indirectly boosts memory formation.

Drawbacks of Listening to Music while Studying

And still, despite these benefits, studies have shown that music is often times more distracting than it is helpful.

  • Students who listen to music with lyrics while completing reading or writing tasks tend to be less efficient and come away having absorbed less information.
  • Loud or agitated music can have adverse effects on reading comprehension and on mood, making focus more difficult.
  • Students who use music to help them memorize sometimes need to listen to music while taking the test in order to reap the benefits of this study method. In the silent test-taking environment, these students may find it more difficult to recall the information.

Ultimately, the effects of music on study habits are dependent on the student and their style of learning. If easily distracted, students should most likely avoid music so they can keep their focus on their work. Conversely, students who function better as multi-taskers may find that music helps them to better concentrate.

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