Woman listening to music while studying or working

Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

NEW YORK — If picking a playlist was your first step when studying, you’re more likely to have had a high GPA. A survey of 2,000 Americans looked at the tie between music and study habits and found those who play music were likelier to have a GPA above 3.2 than those studying in silence (84% vs. 78%).

Results showed that half of respondents recall regularly listening to music while studying (49%), and 60 percent were able to study better with something playing in the background.

Further, this percentage is likely to increase for younger students. Fifty-eight percent of 18 to 25-year-olds noted they listened to music while studying, compared to only 41 percent of 58 to 76-year-old respondents.

Can music increase productivity?

This trend appears to continue beyond the classroom and into the workplace. Currently, two in three Americans listen to music while working. Most of those respondents feel more productive at work while listening to music (89%), and many of those Americans say that it makes them look forward to working more (84%).

Of those that do listen to music while studying, 80 percent agree that it’s therapeutic and three in four believe it helps them absorb information more. Similarly, 81 percent of those who listen to music while studying think it helps make their learning experience more enjoyable.

Respondents shared some of their favorite songs to study to, including “Riverside” by Agnes Obel, “Against the World” by Bob Seger, and “God’s Plan” by Drake.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of CSU Global, the survey found that classical music (31%), R&B (28%), and country (28%) are among the top genres people would recommend for a productive study session. Also, some didn’t just stop at music, citing nature sounds (30%), real-life sounds (26%), and podcasts (24%) as pleasant background noise when studying.

“There are a variety of platforms students can tap into to aid their studying habits, whether it’s an instrumental music playlist on Spotify, a soothing meditation on Calm, or rain sounds on YouTube,” says Dr. Christina Agvent, program director of teaching and learning at CSU Global, in a statement. “There is something out there to fit every student’s preferences and study styles.”

Should there be music in the classroom?

The survey also delved into the differences between those who enjoy listening to music while studying and those who don’t. Of the two-thirds of respondents who said they were focused in school, the majority listened to music while studying (58%).

Those who listened to music while studying were also more likely to use mnemonic devices, notecards, or other creative tools to help them memorize information (52% vs. 36%). This may be why music listeners had an easier time taking tests (64% vs. 45%) and felt more prepared for class regularly (80% vs. 66%).

While the average person spent five and a half hours studying every week, those who enjoyed music were more likely to spend upwards of seven hours a week hitting the books. It’s no surprise, then, that 58 percent of respondents agree that schools should consider allowing students to experiment with background music while studying to help improve their focus.

“Listening to music while studying can be an extremely helpful tool for some students in improving their focus,” Dr. Agvent says. “I encourage all to explore different genres or other sounds to discover what may be the best fit for them in aiding their educational experience.”

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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