Music While Studying

As we near the end of the semester and summer approaches we must first get passed our daunting assignments and end of year exams. This marks a rare time in the student calendar when the nightclubs are noticeably less full and the library is packed from 9am onwards, it is a strange time.

Many students will try anything to get ahead and ease their workload from forming student groups to visiting the writing center.

I wrote recently about how beneficial exercising can be for students feeling the pressure of their assignments and looming exams but what about music?

Music plays a major part in our day to day lives. Whether you are a music lover or not you more than likely listen to the radio on your way to work or college. Music is something you cannot avoid. Music has so much power over us, it can change your mood, get you excited or relax you. So why shouldn’t it be able to aid you in your study?

Studies show that listening to music before studying or performing a task can benefit a person as it improves attention, memory, as well as helping lessen depression and anxiety.

The Mozart Effect is a very famous piece of research basically claiming that listening to Mozart or classical music makes you smarter. This is hotly debated and you aren’t going to get into that right now.

Research has shown that study and concentration has better results in a silent room or setting. However few students have access to a silent room and are often studying in place disturbed by chatter, coughing, or rustling. Students tested in settings with background music were found to get better results than those tested with background noise.

There are many factors that influence these findings though, especially the student themselves. It depends heavily on the students personality and their willingness to study. The genre of music can play a part too and also the volume that you listen to it at.

It’s a very interesting argument, especially when you see many students in the library working away on their laptops with headphones in. It could be interesting for students who are feeling the stress of exams to try something new and if it doesn’t work for them at least listening to music might help with the stress for awhile.

Why not try this playlist on Spotify and test it for yourself.

 

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Continuous Assessment- Yes or No?

For many first year university students the idea of continuous assessment might seem a little full on, especially after the universally despised Leaving Cert. I remember thinking after a week or so in first year of university that I would be constantly working with this continuous assessment approach but I soon adapted to it and began to see the benefits of it over examinations.

Continuous assessment in university includes but is not limited to;

  • Essays
  • Presentations
  • Individual & Group Projects
  • Reports
  • Class Work (Daily/Weekly)
  • Class Exams or quizzes

  Advantages of Continuous Assessment

The most obvious positive when it comes to continuous assessment is the fact that students aren’t put through the stress of exams. It is a great relief knowing that your entire module grade doesn’t depend on whether you pass your end of year exam. It is great heading into the exam hall knowing you have already passed the module with continuous assessment and are only required to pass the exam.

Continuous assessment can also provide information on the performance of students, this can be helpful for both students and lecturers. It shows students areas they need to work on and shows the lecturer how the class is finding the material at this stage of the semester.

Continuous assessment also means that while you are constantly working away each week in your classes, you might feel like you are incredibly busy but you are learning a lot of material over a long time instead of learning the same amount of material a few weeks before the exams.

I think with continuous assessment you learn more and have a better understanding of the material than if you just cram before an exam.

Disadvantages of Continuous Assessment

Continuous assessment can bring with it, it’s own form of stress for students. Students can feel that they are under constant pressure to preform and do their best. Many classes use continuous assessment and it can be very stressful for students when all of their essay deadlines fall in the same week, this nearly always happens and results in a kind of end of year pressure for students.

Another disadvantage of continuous assessment in large classes is the fact that a tutor or lecturer must grade a large number assignments and this can take a lot of time. It can be frustrating for students for example if they complete a mid-term essay and the result of this essay is not known before they start their second essay. It is helpful for students to know this result before they start their second essay if there are things they need to work on or keep in mind when writing their second essay.


I think when it comes to continuous assessment it all comes down to the student. Good students will excel regardless and yes, there is going to be stress no matter what.

You can work all semester and will be a little stressed from time to time or you can do no work all semester with no stress and cram for your final exams and stress a lot!! The choice is yours.

Which method do you prefer? Can you think of any other advantages and disadvantages regarding continuous assessment or the traditional exam orientated style of assessment?

Exercise & Study: Brain Gains

As the weeks go by and the deadlines begin to build up, keeping fit and healthy can often times be a pain. Do students really want to go for a jog when they have 3 essays due? By the time you finish a long hard day in college or a full day of study in the stuffy library, you’ll struggle to find a willing student to grace the gym for an hour or head out for a walk.

It’s usually study or exercise, very rarely both. But both are extremely important and usually work best when they are combined. Finding that balance isn’t always easy and it obviously depends on the student and their circumstances, but why should students consider hitting the gym after a full day of study as opposed to stretching out on the couch and watching TV?

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Exercise can boost your brain power. Experiments conducted on mice at the University of Illinois found that mice that ran on a wheel often had more neurons (brain cells) than the mice that did not. Scientists have discovered that exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinking and enhance cognitive function. Frequent exercise has also been linked to an increase in memory.

Exercise can help with your concentration also. Studies with ADHD children that did 20 minutes of cardio, such as running or cycling before their classes found that they improved their concentration, class participation and behavior.

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American Heart Foundation

To start reaping these benefits of exercise you don’t have to be in the gym for 3 hours, seven days a week. Many studies suggest that 30 minutes of exercise 3 days week can be enough. With loads of sporting societies on campus you are spoiled for choice as to how you want to get your exercise in and it doesn’t even have to be a sport, you could go for a run or a walk which is completely free and just as rewarding!