It took me two and a half years, but I finally learned how to study for things. The technique has two features: you have to be confident, and you have to be dedicated. Since it did take two years, I can see why many people recommend going to community college first for the first two years. I did take some classes at community college, but only a few while I was a high school student that posed no substantial challenge.
Confidence. I’m not usually one who is into the whole “90% of the battle is confidence” bullshit. I’d rather be realistic. And when I took organic chemistry, I didn’t really bother studying very hard at all even though I had free time. In my mind, I thought, “I’m probably going to get a B anyway, I might as well not study.” So I never had any willpower to study. I would attempt to do so, but my eyes would glaze over and my mind would wander. I need pressure in order to study, and I need confidence or something in order to provide that pressure.
Dedication. I wasn’t prepared for what serious studying involved. My first two years, I’d just take my class notes, and read them a day or two before the tests. And I’d take the practice tests if any were avaliable. This worked ok for biology, but not great for organic chemistry where you have to memorize endless numbers of arbitrary reactions. It wasn’t until I took biochemistry that the insane shitfestival of memorization forced me to study in a completely different fashion – in the library for hours at a time. I wasn’t very dedicated for the first midterm in biochemistry, and I just tested to the class average. But then I spent four days in the library going over most of the material and I scored a good chunk above the average. I’d sit down, start studying, and when I got up, it’d be dark outside.
But I’m not fully there. Some things I’m still not willing to do. I’m unwilling to memorize a bunch of random enzyme names like “11-beta hydroxycholesterol synthetase” or “chlorotauric acid cotransporting polypeptide 7A.” It’s inane and stupid to ask me to remember something that I’ll forget in a week and never see again.
I’d always see people with their study material, and they have perfect neat notes and stacks of flash cards. I guess now I know why.