So you're having trouble studying for a big test... trust me, you're not alone. I always share my own struggle with students because then they can understand that not only can you overcome your problems, but you can learn and succeed, as well. For me, I never learned how to study while I was growing up. I either never needed to, or couldn't be bothered. It wasn't until nursing school that I realized how crucial it was to figure out what kind of learner I was... and how to work with it.
Here are some of my "Tips to Successful Studying":
First, you need to recognize what kind of learner you are. Do you like pictures and drawings? Do you need to put your hands on things? Can you really learn by listening? For most learners... listening to "lecture" is NOT how they learn. Nowadays, learners need to be involved in the the teaching-learning process, and adult learners, especially, need to know how what they are learning applies to them and their work. For me... I am very visual, and I have a need to do for myself, rather than watch someone else. How can you learn how to draw up medications into a syringe if you have never had your hands on a syringe? Looking at a picture of a syringe can only teach you so much, and hearing about it can teach you almost nothing.
Second, you need to find time in your schedule to focus on what you need to learn. This doesn't mean that you are cooking dinner, feeding the children, walking the dog, driving carpool, AND studying. It can't be done and you can't be successful in learning if you aren't focused on the task at hand. You need to learn time management, so that there is room in the day for ONLY studying. Even if you take 30 minutes every day, that's better than trying to do 100 things at once.
Thirdly, most students study better when they have someone else to share it with. Find 1-3 other students who have similar interests, similar perspectives, and/or similar goals. If you are the only one with children, you might find that your study buddies don't understand when you can't meet because of a school function with your kids. On the other hand, if you are the only person without a job, you may not understand when your study group can't meet at 8:00am on a Saturday, because perhaps that is the only time they have to run their errands and get life tasks done.
I am a huge fan of note cards, recording lectures, drawing pictures, and concept-mapping. You can concept-map practically anything and it helps to develop critical-thinking skills. Check out this link: http://www.udel.edu/chem/white/teaching/ConceptMap.html
There's so much more, so stay tuned for more tips.