Finding Your "Study Style": Silence or Sounds?

Finding Your “Study Style”:

Silence or Sounds?

Fall is upon us and school is starting up, which means you’re likely dusting the cobwebs off a brain that took full advantage of summer vacation. To help you as you start hitting the books yet again, I wanted to discuss finding your individual “study style” – specifically when it comes to your environment. Are you someone who demands complete silence while you’re hard at work, or do you prefer studying with noise?

When I was an undergrad, I exclusively worked in the dining hall. I wrote papers, studied for final exams, and even did my reading in a space usually filled with chatting students. The majority of my friends thought I was nuts, and spent their time studying in the dead silent biomedical library. When they tried to join me in the dining hall, they claimed they couldn’t focus. When I tried to join them in the library, I was intimidated by the silence and couldn’t ever find my “flow.” What was the deal?



Spoiler alert: I’m not exactly sure why this was. However, I was curious to see if I could find out. According to a study done by a lab in Glasgow, your personality may dictate where you study best. Introverts are more likely to be distracted and bothered by background noise because they tend to be more overwhelmed by stimuli. Extroverts, who typically enjoy social situations and exciting stimuli, are better at tuning out the distractions and working. I also learned that studying with noise can boost creativity, so some students may prefer crunching numbers in the library and doing their creative writing in a social space.


Of course, these generalized statements are not universal truths. My recommendation? Try studying in several different spots and just see where you feel most productive. You don’t need to study in the library just because that’s where most people do. Try studying in the dining hall, in a coffee shop, in the student lounge, and so on. Listen to classical music, listen to slow jams, or listen to nothing. Find out what your study style is, and embrace it!

It may seem ridiculous to spend so much time just finding the perfect study spot, but don’t underestimate the importance of this. After all, if you absolutely hate studying, you probably won’t do it! The sooner you can find a place that makes studying bearable – or maybe even enjoyable? – the happier you’ll be.



[Life hack from the author: if you’re like me and too restless for silence, check out This website plays the background noises of a coffee shop, so you can have ambient noise anywhere, anytime!]