How to use music to prepare for exams

How to use music to prepare for exams

The impending horror of exams is nearly upon you, but music can help you out! Turn to tunes to terminate the terror of term-time. Music can help you to think and feel better during what some may consider as the low point of their time on this earth.

Will music help me study?

What determines whether music helps or hinders studying is how much physiological arousal it produces. As music gets louder or faster, it creates more arousal: think hard rock, heavy dance beats and machine-gun rapping styles.

The same, if the music is unfamiliar to you. Your brain has to devote more processing resource to listening to it. This reduces the amount of attention you can pay to the books.

Music is less arousing if it is slow, smooth and steady, and it also places a lower demands on your brain if you know it well already.

So how does this influence your ability to study? The simple answer is that it depends on the nature of what you’re doing.

If you’re trying to learn difficult stuff that requires close attention to detail, give music a miss. Your brain already is working hard to study and remeber everything, and it doesn’t need extra work.

However, if what you are trying to learn is repetitive or boring, then listening to some arousing music could give you just the lift you need to stay on-task. Similarly, if you’re pulling a late-night cramming session, then you’ll be sleepy and so music might just keep your brain running at optimum speed.

Preparing for exams is an emotional time

Preparing for exams is also emotionally stressful and challenging. Everyone needs down time listening to music can help you wind down before you need to start studying.

Music might also be able to help you on the day of the exam. If you’re super-nervous, listen to some low arousal music and focus on the music itself in order to distract yourself. If instead, you’re coming to the exam on the back of a sleepless night, then listen to some arousing music to wake yourself up.

Make a study playlist

You can also get a lot of help from all that software that came bundled with your phone and laptop. Prepare your playlists now and turn shuffle on if you need to boost your arousal or off if you want to minimise distraction.

If you’re using Spotify, iTunes Radio or something similar, then in order to keep your focus on the revision you should set the preferences for only a low level of discovery and turn off Facebook notifications. If you need a boost, then turn up the level of discovery (but remember: keep Facebook turned off).

Reposted from The Conversation.


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