Finals season is upon us, and no study session is complete without music. But is listening to music the best thing for you?
Let’s set the scene. You have a week of final exams ahead of you, and the pressure is on. You’ve made peace with the fact that you’ll be in the library 24/7 for what’s left of the semester. No parties. No Love Island marathons with the roomies. No more field trips to the city to shop for gifts. This week is all about focusing so you can wrap up the semester in the best way possible.
Something we all have in common when studying is music. It’s our sacred practice. Nothing you would trade for the whole world. Some people like snacks while studying, others prefer to eat a meal. Some prefer coffee while others prefer one of those gigantic Smart water bottles. Some wear a runway outfit and others never change out of the same pajamas. But listening to music unites us. Unless you are doing a review with a study group or procrastinating with friends, music is an integral part of any study session.
But is listening to music when studying the best strategy for you?
Identify Your Study Set Up
Where do you study for final exams? Is it the strictly no-noise library at your college? Maybe it’s in a crowded dining hall with tons of loud voices? Or do you venture out to a local coffeeshop where noise depends on the time of day?
Where you study and the noise level can influence if you study with music or not. If you’re in a loud place, then we definitely recommend you bring your headphones and put on music. While music can also be distracting to some, it’s consistent. Room noises are unexpected and can change in frequency and cadence, which in turn can be more distracting than a techno song.
Are you in a study group?
Unless you’re doing study sprints or just want bodies around to not feel lonely, listening to music on a group study session is a no go. Everyone has their preference when it comes to studying, but putting on your headphones in a room full of people could signal that you just don’t want to be there.
If your group is reviewing together, suggest a speaker as a background noise. That way people can comment or speak in between sprints without interruption. If your group is doing sprints, tell them you’ll put on headphones during each sprint so they know not to bother you. It’s all about communication.
Is music distracting to you?
We covered this in an article about what music to listen to when you’re studying, but it applies here too. The best way to identify if music is more distracting than helpful to your study sessions is to do a test run. Put on your favorite song and read a passage from your textbook. When the song is over, reflect on how much of the material did you retain. Be honest – if you don’t remember much from the text, then studying without music playing might be the best way to go.
Remember, finals week is all about finishing the semester strong. Do not sacrifice your time and focus because you want to listen to music. If it’s not helping your studying plan, then leave music for breaks. While music can be a powerful tool for focus or to help your memory, everyone works differently.
Do what works for you and you’ll crush your final exams!
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