Difference Between Extensive and Intensive Reading (With Table)

Extensive vs Intensive Reading

Extensive and Intensive reading are both common approaches to read a text effectively. According to the purpose and the person who is reading Extensive reading means reading from multiple sources while intensive reading refers to reading about something very closely and deeply.

Extensive reading is usually known as reading widely and focuses on the breadth of understanding while Intensive reading is known as reading deeply and focuses on the depth of understanding a topic.

Extensive reading would mean that a person is reading in volumes and hence is quantitative, while Intensive reading would mean deep, analytical reading in qualitative terms.

The main difference between Extensive and Intensive reading is that while a person reads extensively he does not pay attention to the micro details of the content and reads so just to have a general idea of the topic, while Intensive reading visualizing every word and getting involved with the book.

Parameter of ComparisonExtensive ReadingIntensive Reading
MeaningExtensive means to read large and long amounts of texts for the general understanding of the topic.Intensive means to read long or short texts but carefully and deeply to have a full understanding of the same.
PurposeExtensive reading could be done by people just to gain information or just be aware of a certain piece of information or maybe even just for pleasure.Intensive reading is done when the reader focuses on understanding the topic deeply, from all angles, and gaining maximum knowledge possible by understanding literal meanings.
MaterialsReading daily newspapers, novels, magazines, or any piece of information on the internet, would constitute extensive reading.Reading academic textbooks or materials recommended by teachers, etc would constitute intensive reading.
RecommendationsThe reader himself chooses the content to be read when he is extensively reading.The reading material while reading intensively could be selected by the reader himself or mostly are recommendations by people or teachers.
BenefitsReading extensively every other content that comes across irrespective of the topic improves reading speed and fluency.Reading intensively increases knowledge in particular selective fields along with reading and vocabulary skills.


What is Extensive Reading?

Extensive reading in simpler terms means to read as much as possible for the sake of reading it and to get exposure. It just means to go on reading as much as you can, by just absorbing the content, its style, and mannerism, and not specifically studying it for knowledge.

Reading extensively is done for pleasure or just for the sake of knowing something and should be enjoyable. Hence, it is very important to read things that are of interest when we are reading extensively.

For example, if politics, sports, etc interests a person, then reading newspapers or magazines could make him stay updated without getting much into the details of it. Extensive reading does not require a specific time to be set apart to do it.

Extensive reading requires a strong command over vocabulary and grammar as it does not involve looking up at the dictionary or so to understand the concept. In a way, extensive reading itself gives more exposure to languages, style, vocabulary, and syntax.

Extensive reading requires fewer efforts as it is not forced and is done to be enjoyed. Hence, extensive readers look for simpler books, which improves the speed and fluency of reading and understanding.

Since there is no compulsion, the reader can select materials according to his taste and need not complete reading a specific content or could just leave it halfway as there are no follow-up discussions or so to be done.

Extensive reading is considered to be the first phase of reading as it helps to cultivate a habit of reading regardless of the topic of the content and helps in becoming voracious readers. At first, it does not matter whether the person understands every word, it just requires him to read quantitatively.

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Extensive reading helps to read a lot of material in a lesser period and have a general idea about a lot of topics and can be selected by the individual himself according to his speed and capability. Extensive Reading is supplementary in nature, which means it is a kind of reading done to enhance general knowledge about a subject.

Extensive reading has many benefits but comes with some drawbacks. Extensive reading involves reading superficially and this could mean that the reader could miss out on minute important details.

Extensive Reading

What is Intensive Reading?

Intensive Reading involves reading shorter texts, but deeply with full concentration and understanding it to the core. Intensive Reading is a much more systematic process where the reader’s goal is to absorb complete knowledge from the text by looking up at every word and phrase that he does not understand.

The main goal of intensive reading is to understand the literal as well as the underlying meaning of the text and gain maximum understanding of it. This improves reading skills, vocabulary, and grammatical knowledge.

Intensive readers are required to read the text with full focus and determination, to understand it till the depths of the topic. The main aim is to gain a deeper knowledge of a certain topic and look up to every word and phrase which is not understood.

Intensive reading is comprehensive in nature as the main focus remains on reading and understanding the gist and subject matter and more importantly the thought of the author behind the text and the language.

Intensive reading at the first level is done at an academic level when teachers or professors recommend reading ceratin texts for academic purposes, with the aim that students read it with the utmost care and concentration and understand it from every angle and at a narrow perspective.

At a later stage, people interested in a certain topic read intensively on that particular matter and till they gain complete knowledge of it. Hence, intensive reading involves reading smaller and lesser texts but till the depths of it, and focus more on the quality rather than quantity. One of the major drawbacks or requirements of intensive learning is that it requires complete attention and focus, and hence only people with dedication and patience can do so.

Intensive Reading

Main Differences Between Extensive and Intensive Reading

  • Extensive reading focuses on a much broader perspective and reading in volumes while Intensive reading involves a narrower approach with fewer texts.
  • Extensive reading involves reading newspapers, magazines, and multiple books to have a general idea of various topics, while Intensive reading is usually connected with academic reading requirements to deeply understand the topic.
  • The main difference between Extensive and intensive reading is that extensive reading is complementary in nature, while intensive reading is comprehensive.
  • Extensive reading is done as per one’s wish and for having general knowledge or just for pleasure, while intensive reading involves understanding the literal as well as the underlying meaning of the text.
  • Extensive readers usually do not use a dictionary to look up to words or phrases that are not understandable, while intensive readers do so to have a complete understanding of the subject.



Extensive and Intensive reading both are styles or approaches to reading texts and hence have their importance. While reading extensively, gives the reader a broader perspective and general knowledge of various topics, intensive reading provides the reader with complete, in-depth knowledge of fewer, but particular topics.

Extensive reading focuses on the quantitative a reader reads while intensive focuses on the quality knowledge that the reader could gain. Extensive reading improves the speed and fluency of the reader while intensive reading improves the reading skills as well as knowledge, vocabulary, and grammar. Hence, both the reading styles cater to different needs and helps readers improve themselves.


Word Cloud for Difference Between Extensive and Intensive Reading

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Difference Between Extensive and Intensive Reading

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