Perhaps the best piece of advice for mastering a subject is to actually be interested in it. But even if the subject is ho-hum, active participation in class can still help you to have a good memory of what is being discussed.
There is no hard-and-fast rule to optimize one’s study time. Everyone has to come up with a system that works best for him. The following are some techniques that I have found effective for me:
1. Gather all the books, notes and other materials you need for the review in your study area. Bookmark the pages you need to go through. This is so you can have a general idea of the amount of studying you need to do, estimate the amount of time you need to spend with each subject, and prioritize accordingly.
2. Find an environment and stimuli that work best for you. Choose a quiet, secluded spot, or have noisy music if it helps your mind to focus. I like to work on a study table in my room, where there are fewer distractions than in the library. Most of the time I would have fresh coffee ready before I start work, as well as salty snacks, usually peanuts.
If heavy meals make you sleepy when studying, try to avoid them. Coffee or soft drinks are good stimulants since these contain caffeine, but they can also be dehydrating especially in hot weather, so you might want to supplement them with cool water or fruit juices.
I also like to wake up to study in the wee hours (4-5am), when my mind is fresh. At this time it is also quieter, so my mind can focus better. If a subject is particularly difficult or boring, this is the best time to tackle it.
3. Stack the review materials in immediate view beside your study table, in the order in which you want to go through them. If I have plenty of time, I like to start with the easiest subjects that won’t take a lot of time so I can discard them quickly, and spend quality time on the difficult ones.
After finishing each subject, I put away the relevant materials and take a short break to reward myself. It gives me a sense of relief to see the stack diminishing and this boosts my enthusiasm to continue until I have finished everything.
If I don’t have a lot of time and need to utilize my ‘battery’ accordingly, the more difficult or major subjects go on top of the pile, while the easiest ones go to the bottom.
4. Before your examination, have a good night’s sleep and a light, healthy meal. This will help you to relax and feel less jittery. If your mind is calm and focused, you are more likely to remember what you have studied.
Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. - Thomas Jefferson