Music has powerful effects on the brain, enhancing focus, motivation, and memory retention.
So, with students around the UK preparing for exams, many will be searching for revision hacks.
To help, the music and behavioural science experts at Startle have studied 36 popular artists and their latest albums to find who has the best brain-boosting beats, giving each a score out of 10.
According to the study, pop sensation Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia album is the best revision backdrop, scoring an impressive 7.7/10 thanks to its popularity (72%), high energy (71%) and low ‘speechiness’ (8%) – the presence of spoken word.
Science suggests the more popular an artist, the better they are for revision, due to the “Blur effect”. A study found children who listened to British pop group Blur while completing a test performed better than those who listened to classical music. Researchers suggested that children are more likely to benefit from listening to music they enjoy while studying.
In second place is Calvin Harris, specifically his Funk Wave Bounces Vol 2 album, scoring 7.6/10. While its popularity rating is among the lowest in the top ten, its positivity is the highest (84%) – far above the average of 64 percent.
Recent research suggests people are more productive when they are happy. A good mood can also improve learning outcomes and lead to more success studying. The Scottish DJ’s music also has high energy (71%) and low speechiness (7%) ratings.
The BRIT award winning rock band, the 1975, come in third place with their album Being Funny in a Foreign Language, scoring 7.5. The album has a low speechiness rating (5%) and a higher-than-average popularity score (69%).
The presence of spoken word can be an important factor in how well music is suited to revision. That’s because tunes with too many words can be distracting and contribute to a worse working memory – bad news if you’re trying to study.
In fourth position is Charli XCX’s and her album Crash (7.3/10). It has the lowest speechiness score in the top 10 and a good energy score of 76%.
Research shows high-energy songs with faster beats and louder sections are great at making you feel more alert and motivated. For students struggling with motivation while studying, these could serve a much-needed focus boost.
Rounding up the top five is Harry Styles’ third studio album Harry’s House with a score of 7.2.It is the most popular album in the top ten (81%). However, the tracks’ energy levels are the lowest in the top ten (56%).
So, if you’re struggling to focus and retain that all-important information this exam season, add these albums to your playlist.
But remember, many other factors can influence how well your revision sessions go.
For example, research shows high noise levels can result in reduced cognitive performance, so any kind of music should be kept at a low background volume that you can easily talk over to minimise distraction.
The environment in which you study can also affect your concentration and ultimately your grades on the big day.
One study found poorly lit areas can decrease your focus and alertness whereas brightly lit spaces with a combination of natural and artificial light are best for concentration.
For those with a more visual learning style, consider revising in different places for different subjects to create a clear distinction in your mind. The law of association is a powerful tool when it comes to memory recall.