Most courses have a textbook. Studying and mastering the material in the textbook is essential to doing well in the course. The prerequisite for doing this is time. As I mentioned in the section on time management, you should plan on spending AT LEAST three hours studying for every hour in class. If you are taking a 3-hour class, you should plan on at least nine hours of study time each week.
Psychological studies have shown that the best pattern for studying is to first read the material, then make up a test just like the instructor will do. You will probably choose the same important points as the instructor. The process of finding the key points in each chapter can help you tremendously in mastering the material.
Another great method is to take notes while you read. Then pick out the key points that you would choose if you were the instructure.
Another key is to read the material (or go over your reading notes) before it is discussed in class. Not only will the discussion make more sense but will also constitute a review of the material.
Finally, after the material is discussed in class, go over it again immediately after class. This will tend to cement it in your mind.
Colby Glass, MLIS