Want a wise way to revise? Why you need to delete Sam Smith and march with The White Stripes at exam time
At uni? Chasing a first? Listen to The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army, Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc, Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill.
Allow us to explain…
We know you love music. We know you need to study. It’s a necessary evil of academia and results are a really handy way to prove how clever you are. So, we wanted to do it proper, give you the ultimate revision playlist, voted by you and then backed by science.
Not surprisingly you didn’t want to go into your next exam period relying on your intelligence and endeavour alone. We got the 2,000 entries our scientists at the University of Surrey needed to conduct their tests in just 2 days. It was a mega response.
Time to whistle while you work your way to the dream job…Only no. Anything you hum is a distraction. What you really want to be doing is tapping your feet, because when it comes to concentration, you can’t beat a beat.
The comfort zone is the concentration zone
There’s a catch. And it’s why our cognitive classics aren’t all computer generated synapse-soothing symphonies. All the revision tracks were essentially popular tracks – you don’t want something new to your environment taking you out of your comfort zone when you’re in the revision zone, after all.
How bright are you?
The flipside to this coin or the B-side to this particular chart-topper? Brightness. Brightness is the amount of high frequency energy (mainly melodies and vocals) present in the music and there’s far less of it in the songs you choose to revise to. So, why is this and what does it mean for your grades?
Time for a quick brain lesson. Songs with higher brightness ratings engage the brain more. If you were to look at your brain activity while listening to a catchy Taylor Swift tune you’d see loads of neurons firing off and this makes your concentration levels tanks. A blank space, baby, where you can’t even write your name.
Over to the scientists at The University of Surrey: “These frontal brain regions control our ‘executive functions’ – memory, decision making, attention – basically all the cognitive skills you need while studying and revising. So, it makes total sense that students’ choose music that causes less frontal activity and therefore less interference in the brain regions they need while studying! Again, this a novel result and really very interesting.”
Charting new findings
The scientific terminology for a clear beat is pulse clarity. The revision tracks you chose have a much higher reading for pulse clarity – essentially, they have a stronger beat.
Now, anyone who’s indulged in a spot of head banging, or those partial to mass bouncing in front of a DJ will attest to a beat’s ability to promote synchronized bodily movements. However, now we’ve found it aids concentration and retains focus too. Something rarely observed before.
So why White Stripes, Ed and Gorillaz?
They’re the perfect mix. They all have really clear beats for concentration, and even though there are some familiar vocals, the male voices tend to have a lower brightness score and thus leave the bit of your brain you need to concentrate on your subject matter alone.
And, if you want to avoid a surefire way to make revision much more difficult than it already is, we have a few must delete tracks for you: Flume – Never Be Like You, Rihanna – Needed Me, Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes.
Sorry, Sam – the evidence is too good not to say goodbye.
Listen to the entire ultimate revision playlist for yourself right here. Still sketchy on some of the science? Check out our short video below!