A ranking of genres to listen to while you study for finals

A ranking of genres to listen to while you study for finals, according to Quinn, who is not a psychologist and is also an English major, so they don’t have to study.

It’s that time of year when finals are looming, and most college students are beginning to feverishly prepare for the incoming storm. Your study soundtrack, while not the most essential factor in you passing your classes, is certainly nothing to ignore. Here is my ranking and commentary on some common choices.

#5: New releases- while this may seem like common sense, your finals study session is not the time to listen to that new album by your favorite artist. Your brain will focus on the shiny new album, not your biology notes. If I want to be a productive little student, I’m not looking at anything new. I’m saving that for the shower and driving home.  F rating.

#4: Instrumental versions of pop music- this genre has similar problems to the previous example, but in a different font. Instead of your brain fixating on the shiny new thing, it’s trying to do pattern recognition. Human brains like patterns a lot, and presenting a known thing in a new way is a great way to put your brain in puzzle-solving mode, but we’re looking for the much more elusive studying mode. I love instrumental music, as my roommate and anyone who made the mistake of letting me have the aux cord can attest to, but I can’t stand instrumental versions of pop music in any setting, let alone when I’m studying. Even if you generally like this kind of music, I still wouldn’t recommend it as study music. D rating

#3: Your liked songs playlist- not a bad choice. In theory, you’re familiar with everything within this playlist, so your brain won’t snag on unfamiliar things, get excited over a new, shiny thing, or try to find a new pattern. In practice, you like these songs, and how much you like them might actually distract you in the form of a jam session. I don’t think anyone wants to see or hear you jamming out in the library, but perhaps, within the safety of your home, you can let loose a little. I avoid my liked songs when trying to focus, but you do you. C rating.

#2: Instrumental music- Beethoven will get you a passing grade. Music in the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras followed fairly strict structural rules, and most of this music is familiar enough to lull your brain into a study-flow state. I love ‘classical’ (mostly Romantic era) music and grew up listening to it, so it’s not the best choice for me personally, but it is effective if you’re not a music nerd. I’ve got recommendations and several playlists I can send you if the broad idea of ‘classical’ music scares you. B rating

#1: Video game music- video game music is designed to help you focus, so it is the perfect thing to listen to as you study. You will pass your final with flying colors if you study (please study, even in silence) with video game music. The Skyrim soundtrack is a particular favorite, but really, any will do. I wrote all of last semester’s final papers with a video game music soundtrack, and I passed all my classes with flying colors. A rating.

Ultimately, your study playlist is just that: yours. I based my opinions on my experiences in the harried studying environment that English majors must endure. If none of these options work for you, that’s great! If my f-rating is your a-rating, stellar! We all have little tips and tricks to survive the last couple weeks of the semester. It took me five semesters to figure mine out; I’m just trying to help you get yours a little earlier.

Disclaimer: Just listening to the ‘right music’ will not make you pass your classes. You still have to do the required class work. Happy studying!