Prep like a pro with this study guide playlist

A common truth: if you want to ace your exams, studying is critically important. Committing to studying for exams improves your understanding and retention of materials discussed in the classroom and prepares you to answer questions during a final exam.

Before you hole up in a study room this semester, be sure you have this study guide playlist, curated by Dean Wilcox, Dean of Liberal Arts, ready to play:


Number one study tip. Information in isolation is not as useful as information in context, so studying is not a matter of cramming as much stuff into your head as possible days before an exam, but reviewing how and why that material was examined... Start with smaller pieces and work up to how they fit into the subject covered over the entire term. 

Finding the perfect study location. Since finding a quiet spot is not always possible, a good pair of headphones can turn even the liveliest coffee shop into a study space. I tend to favor the big over-the-ear, looks like they came from the 1970s variety for two reasons, they help limit outside noise, and they send a clear message that I don’t want to be disturbed.  

All about concentration. Here are my basic rules when looking for music to aid concentration: 

  • Loud enough to break up the static in my head and obscure noise outside it.
  • Can’t be wallpaper, but can’t be insistent. 
  • Can have vocals, but can’t have words, at least ones that I can recognize.
  • Should provide energy and drive without distraction.
  • Should expand in time long enough for me to forget it is there.

All-time favorite. Music for 18 Musicians is one of my all time favorite pieces to relax into. It has a great driving pulse, but also enough surrounding sounds that it fits the concentration rules above. 

Ignorable & interesting. Brian Eno’s “Discreet Music” is ground zero for anything considered “ambient.” Described by Eno as music that is “as ignorable as it is interesting,” this piece meanders through layered sounds in which loops cross and re-cross each other throughout the entire composition.

What if I’m not studying? Aside from studying I find this music extremely useful when reading for pleasure, meditating, napping, and doing things like going for a walk or riding a stationary bike. Anytime I want to focus concentration or let my mind wander this playlist comes in handy.

Dean Wilcox

This month's playlist is by Dean Wilcox, Dean of Liberal Arts.


by Hannah Callaway

November 22, 2017