Why is it that the most successful students, the ones who always get the best grades, often say, "I barely studied for that test."
Sure, a few of them are just ridiculously, annoyingly smart, the type who seem to understand everything the first time it's explained to them. I always hated (read "worshiped") those kids because I wished I were like them.
Most of the successful–but still mortal– students maximize their time in class, a technique I described in this January, 2010 post.
But one thing they all do is make the most of the time they spend studying. As Cal Newport describes in this post, if you study in short, focused one-hour bursts, the total time you'll need to understand the material will be a lot less than if you try to do it all in one marathon session.
If you tend to procrastinate and study at the last minute, Cal's technique might inspire you to change your ways.