Some students swear that they can study better when listening to music, while others need complete silence to be able to focus. What does the research say?
First, it is important to differentiate between certain types of music. Usually, popular songs with lyrics are not the best to listen to when studying. Students who are listening to music with lyrics are often less productive and retain less knowledge. Similarly, loud or violent music can negatively impact reading comprehension and mood, making it harder to concentrate. Other types, like classical music, might teach your brain to pay more attention to details and help you study. If you have trouble understanding new information, listening to music could help, as long as it’s not distracting.
Besides, depending on what you are doing, music can be helpful is distracting. While writing or reading, music generally makes students focus better by keeping outside noises on a base level, allowing them to engage in the activity for a long time (be in the flow). However, if you are quizzing yourself, it might be distracting because you need to recall information actively.
Surprisingly, these are also a connection between how you study and take your test. The way you usually study is also the best way for you to take an exam. However, most schools don’t allow you to wear your pj’s and listen to music. Hence, when you are actively studying, try to study in silence. For example, a library can be a great environment: it is not entirely silent, but the noise level is limited, similar to a class that is taking an exam.