Surely by now we have all, in some way or another, figured out which method of studying we most prefer. It varies per person, as we all have different types of memory and intelligence, and what works wonderfully for one isn't guaranteed to work at all for another. Some of us prefer to sit in perfect silence, some of us prefer to work in a group, some of us prefer to work alone to music. For the former two I have merely my applause, as I find silence and company incredibly distracting. For the latter I have suggestions. 

Music, I have found, helps to cancel out the noise and mania of surrounding locations. Likewise, as I have a mind tend to wander, it provides some small amount of distraction from straying thought - part of the subconscious is occupied handling the interpretation of varying notes and sounds, if I had to guess, but for argument’s sake I’ll admit that I don’t know how it works.

My first recommendation is to pick something relatively even, that is, something without tumultuous ups and downs, something melodious. Upbeat rap tracks or EDM mixes have been designed to rile people up and get blood flowing, in a manner counterproductive to the simmering attentiveness demanded for effective studying. One can scarcely interpret the semantics of a textbook when their thoughts are racing and their fingers are thumping. Something more laid back or relaxed, be it acoustic or classical or merely a ballad slightly more mellow than the usual, is much more preferable and easy to work with. The goal of music, after all, is to help with focus, not hinder it.

My second recommendation is to pick something familiar. If we are listening for what comes next, for whatever rise or fall or change or word we have not before heard, we are not paying attention to our material. It does not have to be a song that’s been played a thousand times or something we know by heart. Really, any song that follows a logical pattern should be predictable enough to refrain from detracting attention.

My third recommendation is to stick to it once it’s been found. Keeping with a similar set of songs or pieces can help to return one to a studying mindset as it has been proven, though I cannot cite my exact source and am not qualified to account for the reliability thereof, that associating certain atmospheric constants with set mental states will aid one in returning to that state later; ergo, study where you always study, test in the same state in which the studying was done, so on.

I personally am a fan of the classics. Mozart’s Requiem, the entire 45 minute piece on repeat if needed, has become something of my go-to when I really require focus. Barring that I prefer anything heavy on the cello or organ, such as Chopin or Rachmaninoff, because I sometimes like to mix things up. Anyway, that’s just me. Find your own niche, set out a pattern, study hard and prosper.