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What Type of Music Helps You Study? – Our Favourite Revision Playlists

25 March 2022

We know that students are always looking for ways to help make their studying more effective and efficient. 

There’s lots of discussion around music, does it help you stay focused? Is memory aided? Does volume matter? 

Research suggests that there are specific genres of music that can help with concentration and motivation. But, when it comes down to it, personal preference plays a big part.


The benefits of music while studying

Whether there’s an essay deadline looming or exam season is on the horizon, listening to music can: 

  • Boost motivation 
  • Reduce stress levels which in turn can improve your mood
  • Stimulate the brain 
  • Improve focus on a task, helping improve memory

However, research does show that in some people it can have the opposite effect.

Background music at too high of a pace or volume can distract working memory. This means that learning and memory can be reduced as the music can make it harder to absorb the material. 


What kind of music to include in a study playlist


Some studies suggest that when it comes to the type of music to listen to when studying, classical music can be the most beneficial. 

An absence of lyrics and slower tempo means that when it is playing in the background it is less distracting than other genres. 

The “mozart effect” named after the classical composer suggests that listening to his music actually makes you smarter. 

Although now largely refuted, research does still point to the idea that classical music increases concentration and productivity. 

Apple Music, Spotify & Youtube all have many classical music playlists. 


Electronic Music

Modern electronic music is also known as “chill out” music. Including Ambient house and trance Electronic chill by Enhanced Music is one of our personal favourite playlists.

Similarly to classical, some research shows that electronic music increases concentration. Even if listened to for a short period of 10 minutes or less, spatial reasoning skills are increased which in turn helps absorb knowledge and solve problems quicker. 

Other research does point to the fact that a liking for the genre of music can be more important than the genre itself. So, if you especially do like electronic music it could just be the productivity boost you need for completing an assignment. 

Other Sounds

If classical or electronic really isn’t for you, but you need some background noise to study to, nature sounds may be the answer. 

Spending time in nature is good for both physical and mental health, so it makes sense that it’s beneficial when studying. 

Sounds such as rainfall or crashing waves can mask intrusive sounds from your environment (especially useful if you’re studying in a busy library). If you’re especially prone to getting distracted, listening to these can help you stay on task. 

White noise also works as a way to help mask surrounding noises that can cause distraction. 

Spotify has a full “White noise for studying”playlist. With over 6 million streams it’s safe to assume it must be helpful. 


Genre or BPM?

Some newer research suggests that it shouldn’t be the genre you focus on when building a study playlist but beats per minute (bpm). 

Songs with a bpm between 50 and 80 have been shown to increase focus and productivity. 

Youtube has a full playlist of songs that fall within the 50-80 range. Some popular artists with songs that fall within this range that could give you a creativity boost include: 

In conclusion

Music works for helping concentration and boosting productivity in some people, but not others. 

Although classical may be the best theoretically, if you dislike classical music it’s likely you’ll actually find it more distracting. 

You can strategically choose the best music for you to study to, but may still find yourself not being able to focus. If you can’t find a silent study spot white noise or nature sounds may help lessen distractions. 


Novel student accommodate both you and your university workload. Setting you up for success, you’ll find high-speed internet, dedicated quiet study rooms as well as co-working spaces in all our buildings. Find out more about how Novel support students here.

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