It has long been accepted that listening to music can be beneficial to the revision process, with classical music thought to be the most effective in aiding concentration and calming the listener.
At revision time, it’s vital to take care of yourself both mentally and physically – an over-tired and stressed student will really struggle to concentrate, but stress and fatigue also play havoc with mental health and the immune system. Eat well, stay hydrated and prioritise relaxation. Looking after yourself properly will keep you sharp, and allow your body and your brains to recharge, enabling you to concentrate, stay focussed and avoid stress.
Aid relaxation, help concentration
Listening to music, especially the right sort of music, is known to aid relaxation; hence there are countless collections of the Most Relaxing Classical Music readily available.
Different studies have been carried out on the effects of music on the brain with varying results. However, it has been proven that certain types of music can really improve the brain’s cognitive functions and concentration levels (so much so that some years ago, studies found that unborn babies who were exposed to Mozart in-utero tended to reach milestones sooner and appeared brighter than those who weren’t), both of which are crucial to successful studying and learning.
A caveat though – it’s almost certainly best not to have thrash metal or eighties electro pop banging out; repetitive lyrics or thudding base are counter-productive and likely to serve only as an irritant or distraction.
Music for effective studying
Calming music can have a soothing effect on the brain as it dissipates stress and clears the mind, while loud, discordant or overly repetitive pieces are likely to have the opposite effect. The right music can help to relax and free your mind, facilitating focus and concentration and thus maximising your revision by increasing your ability to really retain information.
Studies suggest that classical and instrumental music are the most effective in aiding successful revision and studying, with classical music especially considered to improve concentration and cognitive function.
Listening to classical music also seems to improve logic and reasoning as it helps your brain to unwind. Many surgeons listen to classical music during procedures in theatre, as it helps them to relax and focus during complicated and intricate operations, many of which can take hours.
Classical is not the only genre
Bearing in mind the advice already given, if classical music isn’t your thing (and that’s not entirely unheard of) listening to it could be counter-intuitive. Within reason, you need to listen to what you like – more upbeat instrumental or electronic music can also work well if used as background music – that is, relatively quiet and unobtrusive so as to avoid distraction.
For your revision to be effective and successful you need to be well-rested, calm and ready to work. The right music for you is instrumental – pun absolutely intended – in achieving that and classical music is particularly helpful: not just in aiding relaxation but possibly increasing your capacity to learn and your brain’s ability to store what you’ve learned.
If you’re looking for more help with your studies, PasTest offer a range of online revision courses, all tailored for students undertaking medical exams.
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