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People who play music while studying more likely to have higher GPA

Of those that do listen to music while studying, 80% agree that it’s therapeutic and three in four said it helped them absorb information more.

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Latin teen girl wear headphones hold phone online learning in mobile app. Hispanic college student using smartphone watching video course, zoom calling making notes in workbook sit in library campus.
( Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

If picking a playlist was your first step when studying, you’re more likely to have had a high GPA, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 general population 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 (84% vs. 78%).

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

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

And this trend continues 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 when listening to music (89%), and said that it makes them look forward to working more (84%).

Of those that do listen to music while studying, 80% agree that it’s therapeutic and three in four said it helped them absorb information more.

Similarly, 81% of those who listen to music while studying said 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 or even “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.

And some didn’t just stop at music, also 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,” said Dr. Christina Agvent, program director of teaching and learning at CSU Global. “There is something out there to fit every student’s preferences and study styles.”

The survey also delved into the differences between those who enjoy listening to music while studying and those who don’t and found that 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.

It’s no surprise, then, that 58% 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 said. “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.”


  • Classical - 31%
  • R&B - 28% [TIED]
  • Classic - 28% [TIED]
  • Country - 28%
  • Rock - 26%
  • Old favorites - 26%
  • Gospel - 25%
  • Jazz - 23%
  • Hip hop - 22%
  • Pop/Top 100 - 21% [TIED]
  • Instrumental soundtracks - 21% [TIED]

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