Difference Between Studying And Learning (Facts & Ideas)

For many students, the words “studying” and “learning” have always been similar. You study science and learn how to paint. These activities involved shaping your knowledge and proficiency as a student. 

What is the difference between studying and learning? Differentiating ‘studying’ (formal education) and ‘learning’ (real-world application) is crucial. ‘Studying’ hones academic fundamentals, while ‘learning’ empowers practical growth, a key to success beyond the classroom.

In this article, we will go through an understanding of the difference between studying and learning. I will tell you some points for you to fully understand their differences. And lastly, I will give you a clear example to tell the difference between the two.

What is studying?

As children, we learn the basics of life. How to keep alive, to be the best, to interact and cooperate with other people. It is a process of knowing and doing.

Studying is the act of learning and spending time discovering information. For example, you study math; you learn all the formulas, problems, and the given equation.

It is about applying oneself to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation, or practice.

Studying gives you practical ways to approach real-life situations that you may encounter in life.  

Studying at school is vital because it will give you some essential life tips. Here are some reasons why learning at school is necessary.

  1. You learn the basics – school gives you the basics in learning alphabets, numbers, sounds, and arithmetic skills. It helps you to develop your cognitive and problem-solving skills.
  2. Access to knowledge – the world has plenty of expertise. At school, it helps us to understand this knowledge better and easier.
  3. Develop talents – the school is an excellent place to develop your abilities. It will guide you and motivate you to bring the best out of you.
  4. We learn from the subject experts – school allows you to interact with subject experts, your teacher. Teachers can break down complex problems into simpler ones to aid your studying.
  5. Chance to interact – school gives you an avenue to interact with other people. It is a place to meet new friends and colleagues. School can enhance your social skills by dealing with different kinds of people.

What is learning?

A lot of learning randomly happens in our life. It can be from a new experience, the information we read, and even from our perceptions. Learning can also occur from watching the news on television. It can also be gained by talking to our friends.

Learning is to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill by study and experiences. Learning can happen from personal experiences and encounters.

Learning involves more than thinking. It affects your whole personality:

  1. It involves our senses – the use of your five senses helps you to learn something. The more senses you use, the more learning you acquire.
  2. It involves our feelings – learning involves our feelings. It is said that learning is best when people are treated with respect. 
  3. It involves our will – If you do not have the choice to learn everything will be in vain.  

We can also better understand the meaning of learning through the PACT Learning Cycle. This cycle clearly defines the learning process through different stages. Let’s take a look at the four stages of the cycle.

  1. Procure – in this stage of learning; you acquire new ideas and skills. This is usually taught to us by our teachers or mentors.
  2. Apply – after learning new ideas and skills; we apply it. We use it by practising it some way. That is why our teachers give us activities and performance tasks for us to master new knowledge.
  3. Consider – at this stage, the results are assessed. Thru constant assessment and evaluations of our practice gives us an idea if we acquire learning.
  4. Transform – after careful evaluation and assessment, the knowledge is modified. The modifications are based on the evaluation.

The cycle then continues and repeats.

This cycle is evident in our school set up. Usually, we learn the basics first then we progress to intermediate subjects. Before we proceed to the intermediate level, we are assessed or evaluated if we perform or do well on the subject.

Key Differences Between Studying & Learning

study group

Your teacher will always tell you that you must study to pass your exams. Yes, this is essential in passing your courses/subjects. Yet, many of us do not understand the difference between the two words.

Knowing the difference between the two words may be unnecessary for some. Failing to understand their differences may lead to a breakpoint for students.

Below is the breakdown of the difference between studying and learning.

Studying is understanding; learning is applying

It is crucial that you fully understand the knowledge you learned. For example, you study the basic arithmetic operations. Using this to a real-life situation will be the real deal and learning.

Learning means applying and applying calls for testing that knowledge in a situation. There is still a chance of failure. Whilst, you will be able to gain and learn more from those failures. You will be able to adjust in future situations similar to your previous one.

Studying is good, but learning is better 

There was a time when studying, and getting a diploma is enough. Having a certificate will clearly state that you are qualified. These days, experience and transferable skills such as empathy and leadership are increasingly becoming more critical. People have to go beyond the classroom and learn other things to keep up.

Also, values, good manners, and socialisation are things you as a student should learn too. Yes, these things can be taught inside the classroom. These truly learned through numerous experiences the person has. As a student, you should go beyond the four corners of your classroom. This can spur you to learn continuously.

Studying and learning are forces

Studying is a force that pushes knowledge to students. On the other hand, learning is when you, as a student, pull the knowledge you are interested in learning. 

For example, you are taught five different subjects per day at your school. Learning can only be achieved in subjects you choose that you are interested in.

Studying is passive, and learning is active

Studying is knowing and understanding the subjects taught to you. On the other hand, learning is happening because you learn through hands-on experience.

Learning calls for practice. As such, learning is a lot more active, as it builds on the skill, and not just your knowledge pool. Like when you’re studying — just like the maths and driving example, we used at the beginning.

Important Considerations When Learning & Studying

reviewing notes

Going through the process of learning, every student must identify what type of learning style fits their personality. Let us take a look at the different learning styles. This will help you to study well and learn more.

There are four different learning styles (VARK) by Neil D. Fleming and Coleen E. Mills in their study in the year 1992. Let us take a closer look at these four learning styles.

  1. Visual Learners – this type of learner is best at learning knowledge and concepts thru the use of images presented to them. You are a visual learner if you are always a highlighter to remember ideas and words on your notes or books.
  2. Auditory Learners – this type of learner always finds success in group activities. This learner tends to read his work vocally aloud in front of a group.
  3. Reading/Writing Learners – this learner has a strong learning preference for written words. He or she usually takes down notes during the class because he or she can easily break down information that is needed. 

Kinesthetic Learners – if you are a hands-on student, then definitely you are a kinesthetic learner. This learner usually excels in skills and lab work classes.


We are always misled on the difference between studying and learning. Studying is gaining new knowledge. Studying is done at school, where it is taught by our teachers or mentors. We study because we have to finish a degree or to pass examinations. 

Learning, on the other hand, is applying what we have studied in real-life situations. Learning occurs if mistakes occur during the learning process. Also remember, learning involves your whole personality. 

Related Questions

When is the best time to study? Make sure to come up with your best study time by choosing what part of the day. This might require a trial and error to get right. Some people like studying by day or at night when everyone is asleep.

Is revision essential for you to learn? Revision is another form of practice for students to learn. It will help you to learn more. Having revision techniques allow you to prepare for your exams and minimise the stress level that you can get.

Can listening to music help me to study? Listening to music helps your brain to be stimulated. Many studies prove that listening to classical music helps boost our mind.

Read more about music and learning in this article on “5 Benefits of Listening to Music While Studying”.


College, learning, learning style, student, study guide, Study Tips, Studying


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