(Editor’s note: If you’d like to continue listening to the playlists in this article throughout your CFA exam studies, bookmark this page, or our Study Music page!)
There is a wide range of opinions on whether music aids comprehension and concentration while studying. Some students swear by studying with music, claiming it blocks out all other distractions. Some claim that the music itself is distracting and therefore hinders progress.
What some people may not realize is that the type of music matters a lot in its effectiveness for studying.
The secret of good concentration while studying is to get your mind into a relaxed and focused state. Empty your mind, so to speak.
In this article we’ll discuss exactly what kind of music you’ll need to maximize your CFA exam studies, and we’ve also put together an optimized online playlist, free for all 300 Hours members!
In the 90s, a series of studies conducted by Dr. Francis Raucher, Dr. Gordon L. Shaw, and their colleagues at the University of California at Irvine gave rise to what was billed by mass media as the “Mozart Effect”. Their neuroscience studies and findings found a temporary increase in spatial reasoning while listening to classical music. This original study has been mass exploited in various random ways to the point of making the term ‘Mozart Effect’ the 21st century snake oil, but it’s important to remember the original studies and their findings – increased spatial reasoning with certain auditory stimulation.
No lyrics, please
In studies conducted by Nick Perham and Joanne Vizard, subjects were tested on recall abilities in a range of audio environments. The conclusions of the study were clear – low-volume, steady-state environments are best for cognitive and recall tasks. Lyrical music = rubbish for concentration.
Additionally, music has another added advantage which has been practiced by everyone for years: music allows you to lengthen your study sessions by increasing motivation.
The regular gym-rats among you would be no stranger to this phenomenon. Although the effect of music on motivation is not well discussed in the context of studying, this has been examined exhaustively in other fields, including exercise. It has long been known that any kind of music is able to increase motivation and endurance in tasks involving physical or mental strain. Playing music during these sessions allows the subjects to increase the length of the sessions and in the case of exercising maximize its health benefits.
In the case of your CFA exam prep, it allows you to make the most of your study sessions.
What should you do for your CFA exam prep?
Summed up: If you can study, and have studied in the past without music in a quiet environment, do it. If you need music to settle your mind, you must choose music that fits all of these requirements:
- No lyrics. Regardless of whether you understand the language, don’t use music where words are being sung.
- Soft. The volume level of the music should be just audible.
- No sudden changes in pitch, tempo or volume. A good steady flow is important. Do not use music with sudden starts, endings or transitions.
Some genres of classical music and lounge jazz work very well in this regard, but this doesn’t mean that any from this genre will work. Movie soundtracks also tend to work well depending on your preference.
Thanks to modern tech, we’re able to share some music that we’ve picked and filtered for our members! You can access and stream the music through the players below (I personally prefer the Film Soundtracks playlist).
Members will continue to get the latest and greatest playlists from us, so if you’re not part of our 40,000+ member list, make sure you join today!
Video Game Soundtracks
Epic Film Soundtracks