Curzon Student: The 10 Best Soundtracks for the Exam-Cram

Whether it’s getting stuck into an essay, or flipping through revision flashcards, there’s always a film soundtrack to help you get in the zone. Here are ten that we think will can help you out at University. 

Short Circuit

Steve Jobs

Daniel Pemberton had a great year in 2015, working with Guy Ritchie on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and with Danny Boyle on Steve Jobs. His '60s style score for ...U.N.C.L.E. grappled jazz flute out of the hands of Ron Burgundy and made it cool again, and his work on Steve Jobs is even better. Fittingly starting with the sound of an orchestra tuning up, the first few tracks capture that frenetic chaos of an essay’s beginning, but soon enough the double whammy of ‘Change the World’ and ‘The Skylab Plan’ will have the keyboard trying to catch up with you.

Tron Legacy

Like Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man Soundtrack, Daft Punk’s work on Tron Legacy may come to outlive (and out love) the film. Opening track ‘Overture’ is momentous and gladiatorial, like Vangelis doing Hans Zimmer; from there you’ll be locked in to your laptop, as we descend into the glitch and fuzz of a computer motherboard brought to sonic life. 


Perhaps the least known of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films, Junun is a documentary about the recording of Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express’s  album of the same name. The album has a hypnotic rhythm to it that will hopefully bring your thoughts together and set you into an essay writing trance. 

Twin Peaks

Angelo Badalamenti’s score for Twin Peaks may not be full of the most relaxing pieces of music out there, for every nightmarish shuffle like 'Audrey’s Dance' that reflects your essay anxiety, there’s the shimmering romance of 'Laura Palmer’s Theme' to balance you out again. Every essay has highs and lows, and Twin Peaks is the perfect partner for it. 

Captain Fantastic

Sometimes music that’s too melodic can be distracting, particularly when you’re trying to cram in re-reading as many textbooks as possible, but complete silence can sometimes be just as distracting. This is where Sigur Ros collaborator Alex Somers’ score for Captain Fantastic is perfect; one song blends in to another in this ambient soundscape, that will soothe as much as it inspires. 


Not strictly a film, but completely cinematic, Daniel Hart’s work on the podcast S-Town is not just a great score, but one of the best albums of the year. In the last 12 months, Hart has given us the heart soaring score to Pete’s Dragon, the rich but sparse waves of sound for A Ghost Story, and for S-Town; an infectious landscape of americana that glides across a hip hop beat. 

Spotlight and Midnight Special

Sometimes, simplicity is the best option. Howard Shore’s Spotlight score and David Wingo’s score for Midnight Special are lead by precise, driving piano lines that pull the rest of the orchestra along with them, whilst propelling the pressing, motivational percussion to even more emotional heights. 


Sometimes it’s best to go into an essay swinging. The easy option for getting instantly raring to go is the music to Rocky, but for actually getting work done, Ludwig Göransson's score for Rocky sequel Creed has everything you need. Pulsing undertones to keep your rhythm, drum crescendos to up your momentum, and a single revival of that classic Rocky theme to celebrate with, before getting stuck in again. 

Donnie Darko

Sometimes, when you’re in the midst of a few thousand words, and there’s still a few thousand left to go, it can feel like the world is coming to an end. For Donnie Darko it really is. Michael Andrews captures that encircling isolation with his score for Richard Kelly’s cult classic, but when you need them, the soundtrack features '80s classics from Echo and the Bunnymen and Tears for Fears that will help lift you out of your lonely slump.

Curzon Student

Curzon Student is our first ever FREE cinema membership, designed for film lovers and made for students.

If you are aged 15+ and studying full time in school, college or university you are eligible to join. The membership gives you access to the best films in our cinemas nationwide - new releases, cult movies and classics.