Studying With Focus Flows

Arts and CultureMusic

Photo of a student studying at UC San Diego
Amanda Gonzales / The Triton

Written by:

With midterms season in full swing, students can get overwhelmed by high stress, preventing them from being in the optimal emotional state while studying or testing. In times of panic, students should review test material while jamming to their favorite tunes—it is proven that studying with music can help reduce stress!

Before reviewing and explaining these studies, let’s first clarify the myth behind the correlation of music and better study performance. You may be familiar with the “Mozart Effect”: This popular myth implies that listening to Mozart will make you smarter. While this is not entirely accurate, studies do show that Mozart’s music has a positive effect on students’ spatial intelligence. Researchers conducted an experiment where they had college students listen to one of Mozart’s piano sonatas before performing a series of spatial reasoning tasks. The students who listened to Mozart outperformed their peers. However, this positive enhancement in spatial intelligence is momentary, lasting for only about 10 to 15 minutes. In short, the “Mozart Effect” does not have a relevant effect on one’s intelligence.

But, this does not discredit the benefits of listening to background music during a study session. According to research, our brain releases dopamine, also known as the “happy hormone,” when we listen to music. We respond to this stimulus with feelings of pleasure and happiness. Psychologists have also found that music helps lower cortisol levels, or stress hormones. If studying, or college life in general, has you feeling anxious, music is an effective stress reducer. Further studies show that when we are in a good mood, we think more creatively, and have improved performance on problem solving challenges or learning new tasks. Music can put us in a positive mood which can have a positive effect on our academic performance.

While upbeat music can provide a surge of energy, music with a slower tempo can help listeners relax, which is perfect for studying. For those who prefer strictly instrumental music while studying, Ola Gjeilo, Oneke, and Michael Ottoson are great artists to listen to. For those who prefer music with lyrics, we suggest Adam Melchor, Rex Orange County, and Lana Del Rey. If you like upbeat music, we encourage you to check out Harry Styles, Ariana Grande, and BTS. A playlist of our recommended study music is available for streaming on Spotify.

With the chaos of midterms season, students should destress by listening to music during their study sessions. Whether it’s hard rock, pop, or jazz, music has the ability to improve your mood, which will ultimately lead to better performances on your exams.

Amanda Gonzales and Lauren Kim are Staff Writers for The Triton.