Try and group the medications based on the generic name b/c most of them have a similar base term. Dibucaine, lidocaine, benzocaine, tetracaine all cause numbness. Learn how they interact with the body. How do they cause numbness? What is happening on a cellular level in the neurons? Many of them have the same side effects, drug interactions, and mechanism of action. Where they vary is metabolism or elimination. Some may have a half life of 1 hr or 12 hrs. Know their classifications. Diazepam, clonazepam, midazolam, lorazepam, alprazolam are all benzodiazepines. They all have the same basic effects. They all end in -zolam or -zepam. If a new drug called forazepam hits the market next year, you can bet on it being a benzo.
Know the difference between agonist, antigonist, anticholenergic, cholenergic, adreneric etc. Knowing what a beta2 agonist does can help you identify how a medication reacts with the body. These terms closely specify the mechanism of action. I was really bad at mixing up agonists or adrenergics b/c it all sounded the same. I zeroed in on the beta2 part, but didn't pay attention to whether it was blocked or enhanced. I payed for on the exam.
Next, study the tables in the book. It will list all the drugs together in one group. Stare at it. Identify the names and catch the similarities. Almotriptan, frovatriptan, naratriptan, eletriptan, rizatriptan all end in -triptan. All of them are selective serotonin receptor agonists. Most of these drugs are very similar, minus a couple of specifications. If one of the listed drugs is different, make a note (sometimes they like throwing that curve ball).
They are mostly looking for use, mechanism of action, adverse reactions/side effects, half life, or drug interactions. Exams love asking about drug interactions. What med can you not take with grapefruit? What happens if these two meds are given together?
Study toxicity levels. What happens if someone takes too much of a tricyclic antidepressant or maybe digoxin? Some drugs only work after a therapeutic levels is reached, but there are factors that can lead to toxicity. Renal failure, liver failure, infection can all lead to toxicity and the side effects become enhanced or toxic.
Lastly, study the same things over and over. Give yourself tons of time before the test. Don't study 2 days before the test.....it won't work. There's too more info.
On top of normal studying, dedicate every Sunday to studying your notes (for the week) as if you are taking an exam on Monday. Even though my next exam was 4 weeks away, I would have a mock cram session for the week. So, when I had to take the real exam, I had already engrained it in my head 3 weeks ago. Then, I would constantly go back and review the same thing over and over until it was redundant.