Studying for an English exam can be either a breeze or a tremendous challenge, depending on your aptitude, interest level, and teacher. The best thing you can do is to read attentively, take good notes, and interact with the text throughout the unit. Then, when you get to the point of actually studying, all you have to do is to review the rubric and reread key portions of the text.
Develop good reading habits. Read alertly, using self-discipline to stop your mind from drifting. Keep up with the reading, and review any other materials the teacher gives you. Also, take notes on the story. Studying for an English test ideally starts on the first day of reading a text.
Interact with the text you are reading. Ask yourself what sorts of questions the teacher is likely to ask. Include questions on basic things you should know, such as the outline of the story, the different characters and their motivations, and anything else central to the story. If necessary, write the questions and answers down.
Pay attention to what the teacher tells you outright, as well as any hints he drops. The goal of a good teacher is not to catch you in an error, but to make sure that you understands the parts of the story that he feels are most important. Even if he doesn't give you a rubric for the test, he might just give you a hint about what to study.
Review key plot and character points. Write out or say out loud the key events of the story. Describe all the characters, including physical traits, motivations, allegiances, and fates.
Study key quotes. Most teachers emphasize certain quotes in a book which hold special symbolic, emotional, thematic, or dramatic significance. Be able to recognize these quotes and discuss who said them, where they are from, and what they mean.
Use a book summary product such as SparkNotes or CliffsNotes. Although these are rarely as good as hand-written notes, they can help you fill in gaps in your memory, and offer a good last-minute option. They also may offer ideas you didn't think of before.