A lot of students have trouble figuring out when to study, and when to read. Some think that they’re the same thing, while others aren’t sure what reading has to do with studying at all.

In fact, each of these techniques plays a different role in your academic success, so if you want to get the most out of your time spent studying and reading, you need to know how to use them properly.

The major difference is that while reading is generally passive, studying is active. Read on to learn more about this and other differences as they will enable you to figure out what you should be doing and when.

Differences between reading and studying

1. Reading is passive, studying is active

When you read, you simply take in the information. When you study, you actively engage with the material to learn and remember it.

This means that when you’re reading, your brain is more relaxed and open to absorbing new information.

In contrast, when you’re studying, your brain needs to be on high alert and focused on remembering specific details from the text.

That’s why when people are reading they tend to drift off while they are reading a book or newspaper – they can’t retain all of the information because their brains have relaxed so much that they aren’t focused on learning or remembering anything specific from what they’re reading.

Studies show that when someone reads something, they’ll recall about 10% of the content after 24 hours.

And if someone studies for the same amount of time, they’ll recall about 65% of the content after 24 hours.

It takes about five times as long to read a text than it does to study for the same amount of time because students need more time to process and organize what they’ve just learned.

2. Reading is enjoyable, but studying can be painful

When we read something that we enjoy, our brains release dopamine which gives us a sense of happiness.

Conversely, when we study difficult material like math problems or chemistry equations our brain releases stress hormones which give us a sense of anxiety.

3. We may or may not understand everything while reading, but understanding everything is required while studying

Understanding every detail while reading isn’t necessary because we absorb bits and pieces of ideas without any major consequences.

However, understanding every detail while studying is mandatory because otherwise, we won’t be able to apply the knowledge later on.

4. Reading is mainly for leisure, studying is for academics

When we read, it’s because we want to learn something new or because we want to be entertained.

When we study, it’s because we have a test or an assignment that requires us to know the specific information that’s already been given to us by someone else.

For example, if we wanted to write a persuasive essay about whether animals should be used for scientific research, then before writing it we would first need to do research and figure out where our argument will come from (animal welfare? animal rights? lack of scientific data?).

Therefore, studying is mostly academic-based while reading is usually recreational.

5. Feedback

Reading provides immediate feedback on whether or not you understood the material being read while studying does not give immediate feedback unless you use study aids such as flashcards or completing homework assignments.

You also get instant gratification while reading; however, this gratification is delayed when studying.

Similarities between reading and studying

While the two concepts are different, there tend to have similarities.

  1. Both are techniques that can be used to learn information
  2. They both require a certain amount of attention and concentration,
  3. Some students find it easier or more comfortable with one method over the other
  4. One is not better than the other. It is just about finding what works best for you to excel in your class. The best way to figure out which will work best for you is to try them both out!
  5. Both involve going through a certain topic, either actively or inactively.

Is reading considered studying?

A lot of people believe that reading is a form of studying when in reality, it is only a small part of it. To study effectively, one must do more than just read the material; they must also understand and apply it.

Reading can be helpful as a refresher or as an introduction to new topics, but most students will not remember much from what they have read after completing their homework.

On the other hand, if students spend time reviewing what they have learned through reading with flashcards or by making notes on what they have learned while reading then there is no need for students to worry about forgetting the information later on.

Is reading better than learning?

It is often said that reading is better than learning. After all, when you read you can go at your own pace, reread sections if you need to, and look up words that you don’t know.

But is reading really better than learning? Let’s take a look at the main difference between the two activities.

When you read, you are passively taking in information. You are not interacting with the material in any way; you are simply receiving it.

There are some benefits to this-you can do other things while you’re reading and your mind will process what you’ve read without conscious effort on your part.

With learning, however, you engage with the material through active practice. In addition, some research has shown that people retain more knowledge about a topic after they’ve taken an interactive approach than after they’ve only been exposed to it through reading alone.

So in short: reading isn’t always better than studying!

When should we read and when to study?

We should read when we want to gain knowledge or pleasure from a text. We should study when we want to remember information for an exam or other assessment. The main difference between the two is that reading is primarily for understanding while studying is primarily for retention. However, both activities can lead to both understanding and retention.


In a nutshell, studying is about analyzing, and reading is about enjoyment. Studying is focused on understanding what the author means. The goal of reading can be to understand or to enjoy. If you are interested in only one of these things -understanding-, then studying may be for you but if you want both then reading might be more your style.

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