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Reading, studying similar but not same

Reading vs studying  Many people misconstrue reading for studying.

Maybe it is because in the dictionary they are written as synonyms. However, the two are not the same. It is also important to note that the two are critical in learning and that there is reading in studying.

Studying is the process adopted by an individual where a complete devotion of time is required to fully understand and grasp a particular concept. Studying is quite similar to learning. By studying an individual is in a better position to remember concepts for a longer duration. Studying also involves research, and thorough understanding of an array of topics within a subject.

Reading is the process of going through a topic within a given subject in order to gain information from it. Reading requires the individual’s participation in order to fully understand the concepts. The reading process involves practice, development and proper refinement paired with creative and critical analysis skills. Text formats are clear and understandable through the reading process. 


Both reading and studying involve going through a subject/topic. Studying and reading are both required before going through an examination or test. Studying and reading are both practices adopted by students within institutions or on private learning systems. Both enable understanding of the subject or topic. Both reading and studying are practices that are carried out from childhood by human beings. Reading and studying are inter-dependent and complement each other well. In order to study well, you may also need to read well.


Studying is the process adopted by an individual where a complete devotion of time is required to fully understand and grasp a particular concept. Reading is a process of going through a topic within a given subject in order to gain information from it whereas reading is the process of perusing through the topic to gather information. Less devotion and time are required for reading when compared to studying. Studying requires a lot more effort, including researching and learning. The tasks involved in reading include perusing through texts and understanding the concepts. Studying is more task involving. In studying remembering is very essential. While in reading remembering may not be that essential, though understanding is more crucial. Studying is adopted when trying to understand complex topics or subjects. Reading is suitable for less complex topics and subjects that one is already familiar with.

Ten scientifically proven ways to study effectively (Walden University)

Stick to print

Tablets and other eLearning media are convenient and portable, but research suggests that traditional print materials still have the upper hand when it comes to studying. Some researchers argue that adopting interactive habits like scrolling, clicking, and pointing enhances the academic experience, but more than 90% of students polled said they prefer a hard copy or print over a digital device when it comes to studying and school work. Furthermore, a psychology lecturer finds that students required more repetition to learn new material if they were reading on a computer screen versus reading printed material.

Listen to music

While some experts argue the ability to concentrate during silence or listening to music while studying is left up to personal preference, many agree that playing certain types of music, such as "obscure 18th century composers," can help students engage parts of their brain that help them pay attention and make predictions.   Not to mention, listening to music may improve your mood and change your whole outlook about studying in general.

Exercise first

Benefits of exercise on the brain have been well established in the fields of health, fitness, and psychology. Studies show our

brainpower gets a boost following even a short workout, as our bodies are pumping oxygen and nutrients to the brain. According to Dr. Douglas B. McKeag, breaking a sweat shortly before cracking the books can make you more alert, open, and able to learn new information during your post-workout study session.


Stress hinders learning. UC Irvine researchers find that stress lasting as briefly as a couple of hours can engage corticotropin-releasing hormones that disrupt the process of creating and storing memories. Making study breaks to exercise or drawing a few deep breaths will help your studying if they lower your stress level.

Study when you are tired and get some rest

Studying at your tiredest can help your brain retain higher concentrations of new skills, such as speaking a foreign language or playing an instrument. There’s even a term for it: sleep-learning. As the memory-consolidation process does its best work during slow-wave sleep, your brain could be getting both the restoration and reactivation it needs during its time of rest. All of this means that reviewing study materials before bed can help your brain learn, even in your sleep.

Change your scenery

A change of scenery impacts learning and concentration abilities. Psychologist Robert Bjork suggests that simply moving to a different room to study (or going a step further and learning amongst the great outdoors) could increase both your concentration and retention levels.

Thwart the ‘Curve of Forgetting’

Scientists started exploring the "curve of forgetting" in 1885, but the concept remains useful to today's study habits. The gist of the "curve of forgetting" is this: The first time you hear a lecture or study something new, you retain up to 80% of what you’ve just learned – if you review the material within 24 hours. Fortunately, this effect is cumulative; so after a week, you may retain 100% of the same information after only five minutes of review. Generally, psychologists agree this type of interval studying -- as opposed to ‘cramming’ – is best, and that students should study closer to the day they learned the material than the day of the test.

Use active recall

This controversial method of studying was a hot topic in 2009, when a psychology professor published an article advising students against reading and rereading textbooks – which, he argued, merely led students to thinking they know the material better than they do since it is right in front of them. Conversely, he suggested students use active recall: closing the book and reciting everything they can remember up to that point to practise long-term memorisation.

Make connections

Experts argue that the difference between "slow learners" and "quick studiers" is the way they study; for example, instead of memorising, "quick learners" make connections between ideas. Known as contextual learning, this process requires students to customise their own methods of learning, thus making connections that inspire all of the information to fall into place and make sense for them individually. Some students find that recording all information visually in one place (such as on a sheet of paper or chalkboard) can help to paint a fuller picture and aid their connections within the learning process.

Stop multitasking

Multitasking is a myth. You may think you’re killing two birds with one stone by texting while studying, for example, but you’re actually forming poor study habits. According to researchers, so-called ‘multitasking’ extends your study time and ultimately may damage your brain. Studying doesn’t suck nearly as much as failing!

 *Mmaotho Segotso is an educator and former teacher. 

Educationally Speaking



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