How to Choose Music when Studying for College Courses

Choosing the best music when studying for college courses is vital when determining your level of success. There are a variety of genres of music to pick when preparing for midterms, finals, or simply a test. In order to ensure your academic success in college you must understand why music helps you study. This guide will teach you how to pick music when studying for college courses and why it is important.


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    Consider the benefits of music. Music plays a critical role in our everyday life. Even in school, playing music helps us concentrate and grasp the information we are reading. When in the exam room, always picture yourself not doing the exam but studying and in the background music if playing. This way you’ll be able to remember all you learnt during your study sessions and will ace that test!
    • Everyday set aside one hour or two hours to study on your own, while studying play some classical music or soothing jazz. You shall find out that the more you play these genres of music the more you are able to concentrate with your studying!
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    Determine what you will be studying for.
    • Studying for Midterm Exams: The midterm season is the necessary evil that always has to feature in between and mess up two of the top of the highest holidays (Oktoberfest and Halloween). As a college student these are two of the most attended holiday parties of the year. But when Midterm exams are just around the corner, students get busy brewing coffee around the clock. Now everyone is in a hurry rushing somewhere with an exhausted brain that has been working 72hrs nonstop. And it reaches a point where you find yourself napping over a 1000 page project or textbook!
      • If you are such a student (as everybody is) it's time you managed your time wisely and avoided getting exhausted but scored well on the test. You should start by blocking out the evil noise and instead now listen to the below mentioned sound study techniques that will help you ace that exam!
    • Studying for Finals Exams: The finals are several weeks away but you are sweating yourself off wondering whether you’ll fail them.
      • Instead of panicking, play some music pump up the volume in your room and to psyche yourself up play some fast music such as hip hop or dance music.
      • The more you feel in-tune with the music the more you’ll be able to calm down and prepare yourself to study. Create a timetable and stick to it. If it’s time to meet your study group, be the first to arrive, the one who contributes most and the one who leaves last.
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    Create a studying music mix. Yes it’s the midterms and your need to ace that exam since it reflects on your finals. But you’ve been preoccupied ever since campus season began. If you want to play catch up with your studying, music will help you.
    • To get started, play a music mix of easy/soft music, the music will help you not to memorize the words of the songs playing but help you clear your head and fill it with the necessary information you need to equip yourself with for the exam.
    • The music will help you sync the info and in the exam room you’ll remember a certain song and when you hum it you’ll remember the information you read!
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    Determine when you will be studying.
    • Morning hours:
      • You should listen to more of a contemporary type of music.
      • Music with low bass would be recommended.
      • You might have more energy in the morning so simple music could be used for background noise
      • If you live with people and they are getting ready for the day the noise can be distracting so music can definitely block out those noises
    • Night hours:
      • More upbeat music would be recommended, especially if you are feeling sleepy
      • Energizing beats can be effective when getting your thoughts flowing
      • At night, most environments where students usually study become more quiet. Libraries become empty. There are no distractions such as visitors or calls.
      • Studying at night can be a downfall if you have had a rough day and when you are finally ready to study, you are worn out.Nighttime studying can also be bad, because if an assignment or project pops up and needs to be done right away that you hadn't planned for, it can throw your studying schedule off and take away that time you needed to study.
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    Be aware of where you will be studying. Where you decide to study as a college student is very important. For in this place you should be comfortable and able to concentrate. Creating your ideal study space is vital, for this will be your go-to space for the next few years. No matter what you need to study your environment will remain constant.
    • Where you study comes down to who you are. If you need a quiet space with less distractions then your dorm or the library is a preferable place to study. However, if you need a creative outlet then being outdoors or your local coffee shop may be just what you need.
    • Pick a location and music that is relevant to what you are studying. Studies show the greater the similarity between personal connections to what you are studying, the more inferences you create for the subject, giving you a better likelihood for remembering the information for the test.
    • Prepare your study space with everything you will need, including your study playlist, textbooks, notes, or anything else you need in your study environment. You do not want to lose focus or be distracted by any outside disturbances.
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    Recognize who you will be studying with.
    • The people you choose to study with will have an impact on the type of music you will decide to listen to. You must take into account your colleagues’ preferences in order to choose the best music for your study session.
    • The different types of music you may decide to listen to could vary from rock, pop, classical, jazz, instrumental, hip hop, country and much more. However, it may be distracting for one of your group members who dislikes rock to study while you are fully concentrated. It is important to consider the likes and dislikes of others for both to effectively study. For instance, you must take into account the difference in culture, lyrics, rhythms, and tones. If you are in a group where everyone agrees to listening to classical music while you study then it would be an appropriate genre to choose. Otherwise, it is proper to be willing to pick a genre of music you could all agree upon.
    • According to CNN, “brain activation patterns are related to how much people like particular songs”, therefore, there is a benefit to music when studying.[1] Music reduces anxiety and will increase your productivity.
    • Once you jot down the list of songs or types of music your group would like to listen to while studying then you can create a playlist. Your willingness to consider the preference of others will increase concentration and allow you to have a productive academic session. Studying with one person or more while listening to music will benefit you if you enjoy working with others. Now that you will consider the likes and dislikes of your colleagues’ you are well on your way to creating an effective music playlist!


  • Replace noisy distractions with music:
    • Flipping pages
    • Tapping on desk
    • People passing by in the hallway
    • Shoes making noises when people walk
    • Group of people working together (talking)
    • People talking on the phone
  • Ask your study partners what music they enjoy
  • Create a study music playlist on iTunes
  • Choose a room with good lighting and sound equipment
  • Consider which subject(s) you are studying for
  • Be aware of how long you will be studying for so you can create a lengthier list of music
  • Make sure your music is not distracting others around you
  • When studying in a group, remember to pick a place where you can play music as you study
  • Choose music that others in your group could enjoy
  • Consider the likes and dislikes of others


  • Avoid playing music that is too loud in your ears
  • Avoid playing music that is inappropriate when working in a group
  • Avoid libraries when studying with groups and playing music
  • Avoid playing music that others will not enjoy studying with

Things You’ll Need

  • A digital device (cellphone, iPod, tablet, computer, laptop)
  • A music playlist just for studying
  • Headphones or speakers
  • Notebook and Pen (to write a list of music)

Sources and Citations

  1. Landau, Elizabeth. "This is your brain on music." CNN. Cable News Network, 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. Retrieved from

Article Info

Categories: College University and Postgraduate