Studying Icon

Can You Enhance Study Sessions With Background Music?

Background music while studying

Background noise—like the chatter in a coffee shop or raindrops on a window–might help students to study better.

For many students, studying in complete silence can be challenging, leading them to seek alternative methods to enhance their focus and productivity. One approach is listening to music or having background noise while studying. 

A recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of CSU Global, an online university, explored the correlation between music and studying. The findings revealed that students who listen to background music while studying achieve higher GPAs and show improved reading comprehension skills. 

The Study: Background Music While Studying

The survey involved 2,000 respondents and examined their study habits in relation to music. Approximately half of the participants (49%) reported listening to music regularly while studying, with 60% stating that they found studying more effective with background sound rather than in silence. The study also explored other preferred sounds for studying, including nature sounds (30%), real-life noises (26%), and podcasts (24%).

Dr. Christina Agvent, the program director of teaching and learning at CSU Global, highlighted the availability of various platforms to cater to different study styles and preferences. Whether it’s an instrumental music playlist on Spotify or Apple Music, a calming meditation session on Calm, or rain sounds on YouTube, students can enhance their educational experience.

Impact on Academic Performance

The survey results revealed a positive correlation between listening to background music while studying and academic performance. Those who listened to music were likely to achieve a GPA above 3.2, indicating that music can contribute to higher grades. Plus, students who listened to music reported finding the learning experience more enjoyable (81%) and feeling more prepared for their classes regularly (80%).

Benefits of Background Music While Studying

Listening to background music while studying offers several benefits, according to the survey respondents. Around 80% of participants agreed that music was therapeutic, while 75% believed it helped them absorb information more effectively. 

Music listeners were also better at creating notecards and other creative tools to aid memorization. Additionally, students tended to spend more time studying each week, with some dedicating upwards of seven hours to their studies.

Background Noise and Reading Comprehension

While the study focused on music and studying, it is worth exploring the broader effects of background noise on reading comprehension. 

A separate research study by the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Russia examined the impact of auditory and visual noise on reading. Surprisingly, the study found that background noise, such as the chatter in a coffee shop, fan noises, or passing traffic, did not significantly affect readers’ ability to comprehend written text.

The study proposed two language processing models to explain these findings. The first, the “noisy channel model,” suggests that the brain compensates for noise by focusing more on the meaning of individual words rather than the entire sentence. The second model, the “good enough model,” suggests that our brains prioritize a “good enough” understanding of the text rather than analyzing every detail.

Leveraging Background Music While Studying

Combining these studies provides valuable insights into the effects of music and background noise on studying and reading comprehension. 

Listening to background music while studying can enhance students’ focus, enjoyment, and information retention, as reflected in the higher GPAs. On top of that, auditory and visual background noise does not significantly hamper reading comprehension. This highlights the adaptability of the brain’s language-processing mechanisms.

As students, exploring different genres, sounds, and study styles is crucial to discover what works best for individual learning experiences. While further research is necessary to understand the full impact of background noise on reading comprehension, these findings suggest that potential distractions may not disrupt studying and reading as much as previously thought. 

By leveraging music and understanding the brain’s capacity to adapt to noise, students can optimize their study sessions and achieve academic success.

Consider a Tutoring Program to Help Students Stay Concentrated

Oxford Learning is here to help. Tutoring programs can help your child develop study and learning skills to keep students concentrated. Plus, a tutoring program will help set up your child for success for their entire life. 

Contact a location near you to learn more.

Find an Oxford Learning® Location Near You!

We Have Over 100 Centres Across Canada!
Contact A Location