In preparing for exams overall, I generally take three steps. The first is obviously, to understand the concepts. Secondly I look for connections and patterns to see how topics as a whole fit together. Finally I memorize material, and practice example problems and homework problems that have an answer key.
I think that the second step of the process is the most important for me because it makes the raw memorization much more bearable.
For example when I memorized functional groups I kept in mind that there are sixteen groups that my teacher required, so I divided them into four subcategories of four similar structures and/or elements--four with oxygen being the main component, four with nitrogen, three with only carbon plus the odd sulfur, etc.
My point is, before I start simply memorizing, I try to look for patterns in the information.
Not sure if that helps you at all.