Forget the highlighting and summarising. If you want to study better, new research suggests that those common learning techniques aren't very effective. Instead, psychologists recommend two techniques that will boost your learning performance: practice tests and distributed practice.
Researchers from the Kent State University reviewed the scientific evidence for 10 common studying techniques. They rated five of them with a "low utility" assessment: summarisation, highlighting, keyword mnemonic, re-reading and imagery for text learning.
Practice testing and distributed practice (spreading out learning over time), however, were shown to be useful for learners of different ages and abilities, boosting performance over a number of criteria and contexts.
So the lesson is to put down those highlighters and pick up those flash cards -- and forget about last-minute cramming sessions.
You can read the abstract of the report from the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Improving Students' Learning With Effective Learning Techniques [Sage Journals via Science Daily]