Living Entrepreneurship Blog / The Arts

How To: Survive Finals with Music

By Joey Mensah:

Finals don’t start until this Friday, and already I feel like it started on Monday. While it’s easy to get stressed during finals—especially here at Babson, one thing that of course keeps me sane is music. But for me, I have specific types of song to listen to during each phase of studying for an exam or writing a paper.

Before I begin the tantalizing task of actually studying or writing: I have to play high-energy music to get me hype. Think of it like when athletes have to listen to motivational music to get pumped before a game. During this time I listen to the most ignorant and/or ratchet tracks in my iTunes. Feel free to judge me.

Some of my personal favorites for this pre-grind time period are:
“Switch Up” by Big Sean, “Touch It” by Busta Rhymes, “Fight Anthem” by CCB, “Worst Behavior” by Drake, “All of the Lights” by Kanye West, “Rollin” by Lil Wayne, “No. 1” by Rick Ross, “Top Back (Remix)” by T.I., “Ice Cream Girl” by Wale, and “Way Too Gone” by Young Jeezy.

When I actually start to write or study, I listen to the complete opposite. I lower the volume so low in my headphones or in my speakers, so that I can barely make out the words in the songs. I’m usually listening to the song for the soft and melodic beat more than anything else during this time.

My personal favorites for this actual grind time are:
“Request + Line” by The Black Eyed Peas, “Jamming” by Bob Marley, “After School” by Dom Kennedy, “Burn the House” by Detai

l, “Ball So Hard” by Hucci & Stooki Sound, “What An Experience” by Janelle Monae, “Say It’s So” by Mateo, “Bed Peace” by Jhene Aiko, “Elevators” by OutKast, and “Welcome to the Party” by PARTYNEXTDOOR.

Once you’re a solid 70% done studying or writing your paper: you deserve a break! Take a 30-45 minute break and use the bathroom, grab a snack, and get re-energized to finish strong. During this time period I usually listen to pop, dancehall and some African music.

Brain and Music courtesy of

Brain and Music courtesy of


Some of my favorite during this break time are:
“Grown Woman” by Beyoncé, “Kolom” by Buk Bak, “I Love My Life” by Demarco, “Tell Me When You Ready” by Flo Rida, “Antenna” by FuseODG, “Kukere” by Iyanya,
“Live It Up” by Jennifer Lopez, “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Give It All To Me” by Mavado, and “23” by Mike Will.

Once your break is over, its time to grind out the rest of your studying or paper. To keep inspired and motivated during this time, I listen to the same soft and melodic beats I was listening to before my mid-grind break. The only difference is this time I listen to throwback jams. 90’s babies are greater than all of you. Also remember to lower the volume so that you barely hear the lyrics.

My best tracks for the final stretch are:m
“Are You That Somebody” by Aaliyah, “Take Me There” by Blackstreet, “No, No, No, Part 2” by Destiny’s Child, “Can’t Knock The Hustle” by Jay-Z, “Doo Wop” by Lauryn Hill, “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By” by Method Man, “You Won’t See Me Tonight” by Nas, “Right Here/Human Nature” by SWV, “Creep” by TLC, and “My Love Is Your Love” by Whitney Houston.

…And you’re done! At this point, you should be ready to kill your exam or turn in a full-body grade “A” paper. For me, music is a great source to motivate and keep me focused when I’m doing schoolwork. However, what works for me, might not work for you. If you’re having trouble staying focused while trying to stay afloat during finals, consider my method. With that, good luck on your papers and exams!


Joey Mensah, Class of 2015 at Babson College