The ultimate revision playlist

Headphones and books

Like many students, you may find yourself cramming into the early hours following one too many heavy nights in the students’ union and lazy (slightly hazy?!), less-than-productive days in the library.

Pro Plus has joined forces with musicologist Dr Rupert Till to settle the argument as to whether music can help or hinder the revision process, and reveal the ultimate playlist to help you ‘study like a pro’, even if you’ve been living student life to the full!

Despite the fact that today’s students are spending on average two hours less per week in the library than their parents’ generation, the number of first-class degrees has increased almost three fold (28% versus 11%). And with three in four (74%) of today’s student population listening to music when studying, perhaps the secret to exam success is song choice?

Surprisingly, one in five favours classical music and opera, compared to just one in ten of their parents’ generation. The majority claim that music helps them stay motivated and concentrate (63%), prevents them from getting bored (46%) and ‘pumps them up’ (34%).

As Dr Till, who is Music Psychologist and Reader in Music at the Department of Music at Huddersfield University and a member of the executive committee of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK and Ireland explains: ‘Research from Pro Plus shows that music can help you remain focused to study efficiently. There was a time when lecturers, parents and teachers advised students to turn off the tunes for fear of distraction. We now know that when used in the right way, music – especially our favourite tracks – can actually improve your results, through making you feel more alert and focused to make it through the lengthy study periods, rather than putting off your intellectual mojo.

‘Music is a major contributor to modifying your mood. The more outgoing amongst us may prefer more complex, upbeat music, whereas calmer people may opt for chilled-out tunes. Likewise, some subjects benefit more than others from music. For example, instrumental music is best suited to more analytical topics, such as science or English comprehension. Surprisingly, law students could benefit from drum & bass tunes when researching previous cases, as the fast-paced beat helps their mind work quickly through large cases. For last-minute cramming, I have selected lower tempo material to slow the heart rate and reduce stress.’

Dr Till has worked with Pro Plus to develop the ‘Study Like A Pro’ playlist, helping students stay alert and focused as they study for the upcoming exam period. So, whether you’ve hit the wall with your dissertation, left revision to the night before an exam or left your final assignment to the last minute, there is a music playlist that could help you ace your end of year assessments.

The Study Like a Pro playlist


Dr Till says: ‘Music with lyrics and a medium upbeat tempo are ideal as they will help you stay awake, however not so lively you’ll get distracted. These selected songs should stop you drifting into alpha and theta brainwave states, and help to prevent drowsiness.’

  • Happy – Pharrell Williams
  • Uptown Funk (Feat. Bruno Mars) – Mark Ronson
  • Rather Be (Feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit
  • Budapest – George Ezra
  • Sugar – Maroon 5
  • California Gurls (Feat. Snoop Dogg) – Katy Perry
  • Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
  • Survivor (Feat. Da Brat) – Destiny’s Child
  • Love Me Again – John Newman
  • Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  • One Day Like This – Elbow
  • Valerie – Amy Winehouse


Dr Till says: ‘Dissertations involve complex thinking at a higher level, so the songs within this playlist are instrumental in nature to ensure the music doesn’t interfere with the thought process but helps to keep the brain up to speed.’

  • Inkanyezi Nezazi – Ladysmith Black Mambazo
  • Drifting Away – Faithless
  • Fade into Darkness (Instrumental Club Mix) – Avicii
  • Space Walk (Lost Horizons) – Lemon Jelly
  • Scape – Nitin Sawhney
  • Meeting in the Aisle – Radiohead
  • Your Hand in Mine – Explosions in the Sky
  • Radio Protector – 65daysofstatic
  • Storm – Godspeed you! Black Emperor

Last-minute cramming

Dr Till says: ‘The music in the last-minute cramming playlist has a lower tempo. Slower music can entrain your body, slowing the heart rate, reducing stress.’

  • All of Me – John Legend
  • Magic – Coldplay
  • Another Love – Tom Odell
  • Human – Rag’n’Bone Man
  • Hello – Adele
  • L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. – Noah and the Whale
  • Let’s go to the Beach – Sophie Longshaw
  • Work (ft. Drake) – Rhianna
  • Higher Love – James Vincent McMorrow
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  • Hold Back the River – James Bay

Pro Plus Brand Manager Miriam Luff adds: ‘We know that students are working harder than ever while at university and the benefits of listening to music while studying has been a long debated topic, so it’s interesting to discover the optimum music for studying, from an expert musicologist. Pro Plus caffeine tablets are already synonymous with many students to help them working all-nighters, so we are delighted to offer the ultimate Spotify playlist to help them further concentrate and stay awake this exam season.’

Need a bit more help with your revision technique? Check out 20 scientific ways to learn faster by learning expert Daniel Wong.

Image credit: olegdudko/

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