Studying for big tests can be a total drag! I absolutely loathe studying... and big tests, but there is nothing you can do. You can study for your tests or you could just take the the test without studying at all. I for one always study at least a little bit right before a big test, that way I feel as though I have a better advantage on the test. I have found some things that really help me stay focused while studying so the process is a lot less painful.
First, I would like to point out one little thing before I really get into things here: if your teacher gives you a study guide, USE IT!!! There have been many times when a teacher has given me a study guide and I failed to really look at it at least once and then realized I should have, because all the questions from the study guide were on the test.
I find that I study best when I take breaks. I can not sit in front of a computer or textbooks for countless hours, I start to lose focus. So, what I like to do is study for 30-45 minutes then get up and do something else I want to do: make a cup of coffee, paint my nails, take a shower, anything of the sort. Then I sit back down and go back to studying again. This may make the process a lot longer but in the end I have found that I can focus better on my materials.
Now lets get into some things I use to study, and how I actually study.
1. So I always, always, always use note cards. You can use them as flash cards or just to go over your study material from time to time. These are particularly useful if your studying definitions, key terms, etc. Even if you have these written down somewhere, it never hurts to write them again. Along with the note cards, I keep a little note card file to organize my cards. You can organize them by chapter or even by class.
2. Next thing I always do is highlight. I highlight important phrases, words dates, really anything that may be on a test. I use multiple highlighting colors to color code my work. This makes finding what I need to study for easy. For example, if I'm writing definitions, then I high light the word in green; blue, for important phrases; and pink for dates.
3. I always use sticky notes or tabs to mark pages. I mark pages with definitions and for reading. Sticky notes are useful if you don't want to write in your book, but need to mark a specific piece of text.
I use these tools to help me stay organized in my school work. As much as I hate studying, it's something I had to get into the habit of. I just pace myself and stay organized, so I never feel overwhelmed.