Watch Out Beethoven, You Have Some Competition

A guest post from Jenny Holt about how our musical tastes might affect our studies…

Watch Out Beethoven, You Have Some Competition

During high school, music defined our life. We were all so worried about liking the right kind of music to fit in with the right group of kids. Did I wear the right band shirt today? Will anyone judge the song I picked for my ringtone? Am I up-to-date with the current songs? Looking back now, it all seems silly. But what if it wasn’t? What if SAT scores, and ultimately your future career, depended on the type of music you enjoyed?


Move Over Beethoven, and Make Room for Bob Dylan, Radiohead, and Led Zeppelin

Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and all their symphonies have long been upheld as the holy grail of study music. Parents even make their unborn children listen to Baby Mozart and classical music to boost their future intelligence potential. But according to a new study, a baby should also be rocking out to Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine.

This study, conducted by Ledger Note, shows a correlation between musical taste and self-reported SAT scores. Lovers of alternative/Indie music and rock tend to do better on the SAT test than followers of metal, bluegrass, country, and electronic music; And if you’re a rap and pop enthusiast, your SAT scores are sure to suffer.

When exploring specific artists, it was seen that after Beethoven, Radiohead, Bob Dylan, and Beck led the scoreboard in regards to SAT scores, artists such as Lil Wayne, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and Nickelback significantly lagged. It’s no secret that Nickelback has taken its fair share of abuse in the last few years, and this is just something else to fuel that fire – more proof that it is bad for the brain.

So Why Might This Correlation Exist?

There are many things that could contribute to this correlation, other than the simple fact that music preference determines SAT scores. The study emphasises the point that there are many reasons why we choose the genre of music that we do, which could be the underlying reason why certain genre lovers perform better on the SATs. For example, we select our music preference based on our personality. Extraverts enjoy mainstream “party music”, introverts tend to enjoy reflective and complex music, and conscientious people lean towards rebellious music. Therefore, our personality could simply be reflecting itself through our choice in music genre, which is ultimately affecting our SAT scores. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation.


It is not necessary to be Nietzsche or have a Nobel Peace Prize to know that music is an essential part of our life. It brings us together, lifts us up, and even increases our SAT scores. Whatever music you listen to, the most important point is that you have a choice. You have the right to choose what helps you study, what makes you happy, what motivates you, and what makes you feel.


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