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Music for Thought

By Katie Kennedy

Several studies have proven music while studying is beneficial to the time spent studying. Here are five ways music can help you cram for your next exam.


1. Music can help with memorization. According to a 2015 Harvard article, the part of the brain associated with memory is activated while listening to music. Two recent studies found higher test scores for those that spent time listening to music.

2. Music puts you in a better mood. According to the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media, a U.K. study found music served as a mood boost for those with dementia. Music can also cause the brain to release dopamine. According to an SCL Health article, “research has found that when a subject listens to music that gives them the chills, it triggers a release of dopamine to the brain.”

3. Music can increase brain function. According to a USA Today article, “Background music may enhance performance on cognitive tasks.” A past study showed listening to music lead to more test questions being answered and being correct.

4. Music can cause relief of test anxiety. If you’re stressed about the exam you are studying for, try listening to music to ease your mind. The USA Today article also said one study found music’s effect on anxiety is like the effect of getting a massage. Another study found people who listened to calming music while undergoing surgery had lower blood pressure.

5. Music can help with focusing. A Stanford study found that “music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention.” The research team used brain images of people listening to “short symphonies” and found that music can help with an essential study technique, categorizing information.


So, what should you listen to while you are studying? Experts say any music with little to no lyrics is best. Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart are excellent choices for concentrating. Low-fi hip-hop and EDM are other options for a night of studying. No matter what music you enjoy, it is likely beneficial to you and your studying habits.

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