Revision can be the bane of your life during exam season. So, many students try to make it slightly more appealing by listening to music. But does this subconscious multitasking actually take retaining information harder?
What Do Students Think?
Looking through entries from students on ‘thestudentroom‘, it seems as though most people find music to be a hinderance. One entry read, ‘I always start singing along and in the end get distracted.’ Simlarly this student wrote, ‘If I listen to new albums while I revise I only half concentrate on any work, I’m too busy listening out for lyrics.’
The general consensus is that music with lyrics in is very distracting, as you tend to listen to the lyrics and not focus on the words in your revision.
A different route could be classical or non-lyrical music. Some students said ‘If I’m reading, or doing an essay, I’ll put on classical music, cause it helps me to tune out other noises’, with another stating, ‘non lyrical stuff works well, ambient/postrock/classical stuff for example.’
So, if you really want to listen to music, maybe give music without lyrics a try.
A study was taken at Cardiff Metropolitan University by the Applied Psychology Department, that sought to find the answer to our question. Four groups were monitored while revising; some listening to music with lyrics, some without lyrics and some not listening to anything.
The results indicated that those students who revised in silence outperformed their fellow students by 60%. One explaination for this is that silent revision mirrors exam conditions and thus, the brain is able to operate in the exam as it has been operating during revision sessions.
Music for Revision
If you do choose to listen to music during revision, maybe start looking for some songs without lyrics. The most popular place to go for these kinds of playlists is YouTube. There are thousands of videos, hours long, that play calming background music that is perfect for revision.
Argubaly the best account for this is ‘Lofi Girl‘, as it has 10.3 million subscribers. It hosts live sessions to listen to ‘lofi tunes’ as well as publishing videos that are two or three hours long that you can easily leave playing in the background.