Ranking The Best Study Music Genres For Upcoming Finals Season


Mia Jong

Although listening to music while studying is popular among many students, others may be able to achieve success better through natural sounds such as those presented through “white noise.”

With finals season just around the corner, students are beginning to resort to all-nighters and weekend-long cram sessions in an attempt to ace their exams (I’m looking at you, juniors). Listening to music while cramming can help transform an exhausting task into something much more enjoyable.

However, not all genres of music are created equal for this task. The following review will guide you in choosing both the best music genres, as well as the ones to avoid in order to maximize your studying routine. All subsequent genres have been rigorously tested and evaluated by a single senior (me) over the course of four years and should be taken extremely seriously.


3: Rap/Hip-Hop

Let me make something clear: I have been a fan of hip-hop and rap since J.I.D. dropped his album “DiCaprio 2” in 2018 and have spent hours upon hours listening to this genre during past exam seasons. However, the intricate lyricism, complex rhyme schemes and powerful beats simply make it too difficult to concentrate on work. When I refer to rap and hip-hop, I primarily mean more lyrical forms of the genre (think Kendrick Lamar or Enimem) rather than the absolute atrocity that is modern-day mumble “rap.”

While listening to rap, I often find myself getting lost within the lyrical verses and their meanings, rather than concentrating on the task at hand. For this reason, I suggest that you try your best to avoid rap during your next study session. 

2: Dubstep/EDM

We have a lot to talk about if this is your study music genre of choice. It is absolutely, utterly inconceivable that one can accomplish ANYTHING beneficial while listening to this genre, let alone studying for a stressful exam. 

I find that the repetitive structure of every song, the overly auto-tuned vocals and the obnoxiously loud music make this genre one of the worst to study to, if not the worst in general. Let’s be honest here; unless you are studying to become a DJ at the next dance or learning how to throw raves, please do yourself a favor and delete this genre out of any study playlist. 

1: Heavy Metal/Hard Rock

Heavy metal and hard rock have long been two genres synonymous with hormonal teenagers and the struggles associated with awkward adolescence. Although I, alongside many other teens, have found comfort within the scratchy voices, intense guitar solos and high energy, these very elements make it completely antithetical to success in studying. 

The high intensity of the genre completely derails any hopes of focusing on the material at hand, and you would honestly be better off listening to EDM (which is truly saying something). Although heavy metal and hard rock will always hold a special place in my heart, I assure you that this genre is an absolute no-go for anyone looking to score well on final exams. 


3: Classical Music

Aside from over-achieving orchestra and band students, it is relatively difficult to find someone who actively listens to classical music in their spare time. However, in recent years, this genre has taken off as one of the most popular study genres yet — and for good reason. 

The elegant melodies featured in classical music soothe me and help me concentrate more on my work. Additionally, the lack of lyrics in most pieces make students less likely to be distracted from studying. 

Despite this, classical music tends to have frequent tempo and dynamics changes within the same song, which can make it difficult to concentrate. Despite this, classical music is an extremely strong genre to ensure that students are able to perform their best on any tests they face ahead.

2: Lo-Fi

Over the past decade, the Lo-Fi genre has taken the world by storm, renowned for its laid-back melodies, slow tempos and chill vibes. Lo-Fi is essentially a mix of the best parts of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music and is specifically marketed toward students looking to ace their tests. This, combined with a lack of vocals, makes Lo-Fi one of the best genres to help maintain focus on any material. 

Although Lo-Fi is an exemplary genre of music for studying, its tempo generally hovers around 60-80 BPM, which can make it difficult to tailor the genre to your specific needs. For example, there are times when I crave music that is more upbeat with faster tempos, and I like to have the ability to switch between tempos when needed. However, since most songs hover around the same speed, the genre lacks versatility, which is essential for an optimal study routine. 

1: Video Game Soundtracks

Video game music is undeniably the best genre of music for studying, and you cannot convince me otherwise. If you think about it, video game soundtracks are quite literally designed to keep you fully engaged in the game you are playing. The same applies to studying. 

The world of video game soundtracks is extremely versatile. If you are trying to touch up on some scientific terminology, perhaps some lighthearted “Animal Crossing” music will help you find your zone. On the other hand, if you are desperately trying to speed-run that English essay the night before, like a responsible procrastinator, you may find comfort in higher intensity “Mario Kart” music.

For these reasons, video game music offers music that is engaging and entertaining for all kinds of students and can be tailored to fit your specific studying needs.