My first entry's a bit on the tl;dr side, but I've been thinking a lot about revision and study tips in general, as I have exams at the start of every term :( These are all my own personal tips, so feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments :]
The truth is.. I am a bad student. My first year started off terribly disorganised and revision time was hell. I picked up a bit in my last term, and I'm determined to make this year much better. So these are a case of do as I say, not as I do, haha.
1. ORGANISE, ORGANISE, ORGANISE
Seriously, keep your notes organised. Get some ringbinders and label them by subject/topic/whatever. As soon as you get back to your room, type your notes up if that works for you, and FILE THEM. I didn't do this, and when it came to revision time I had to waste hours and hours sorting out piles of paper before I could actually use anything.
2. Note taking
Before I went to uni, I'd never been to a lecture, and I kind of assumed that I'd just know what to do naturally. I didn't, and my first few sets of notes were a complete mess. My method now is: prepare a page before I go with a heading, date, lecturers name etc., so that I'll always know what those notes are on. In the lecture I write in bullet point format, leaving plenty of space between sections on different areas so that things don't get jumbled together. I try to write down everything the lecturer is saying, but very quickly. This means some things won't make sense if I look at them a few days later, so I really recommend typing your notes up that very same night. It doesn't take long, and it's a huge help in the long run.
3. Making notes from books
Always, always, always write down all the information you'll need for your bibliography at the top of the page, and always, always, always write down the page number for any quotes you write down. This sounds sooo obvious, but for my first essay I didn't write down any page references in my notes, and had to go through all the books again searching for them :(
Highlighting is my best friend, but also my worst enemy. On the one hand, it's really really helpful to highlight key information so you can find it quickly when you're revising. On the other hand, I tend to spend way too much time highlighting in pretty colours rather than actually learning anything. But it's definitely one of the most useful revision tools.
5. Revision, revision, everywhere!
When it comes to revision time, keep something to revise around you at all times. Posters in your room, an audio CD playing while you're doing something else, or revision cards in your pocket. Flashcards are great, you can pull them out whenever you have a spare moment, like when you're waiting for the bus. You might look like a nerd, but it'll be worth it in the end ;)
6. Extra reading
Although extra reading is optional, treat it as though it's compulsory. A lot of my course mates said the whole 'of course we're not going to do it, it's optional'.. then actually went and did it. Leaving me looking like the idiot. Of course, make everything else a priority, but do try and fit it in if you have time. If you do it as you're going along, it means you don't have to read 10 extra books the night before the exam.
7. Time management
Do homework the day you get it. I get homework set every day and, being the procrastinator that I am, by the end of the week I have at least 7 pieces to do, meaning that my weekends end up being no fun at all. In fact, this tip is my main resolution for next year.
When it gets closer to exam time, I find it really helpful to make a revision time table, so I can work out exactly what I need to get done, and when I should do it. Unfortunately, the hard part is actually sticking to it.
9. Create the right environment
My friend likes to study along with jazz music and a glass of scotch. Personally, that would send me to sleep.. I need upbeat music and lots and lots of coffee. Whatever helps you to study, do it.
10. Take some time out
If you're stressed, you won't study well. It's important to make some time for yourself, maybe a break to watch your favourite TV show, or have a nice relaxing bath. However, in my experience it's never good to take a full day off from homework/revision, because then it's hard to get back in to it. If you want a day off, why not just do half an hour just after you've woken up, and then you'll still feel like you've actually done something that day.
...And you can be sure I have lots more where these came from!