GCSE Physics Test Format: What to Expect on the Day


Knowing what to expect on the day of your GCSE physics test will calm your nerves and enable you to perform at your best. To help you get into a positive frame of mind before exam day, we’ve put together this post to take you through the test format step-by-step.

First of all, let’s summarise the subjects that you’ll be assessed in. In GCSE physics, there are eight broad topic areas, spread out over two test papers:

1. Energy

2. Electricity

3. Particle model of matter

4. Atomic structure

5. Forces

6. Waves

7. Magnetism and electromagnetism

8. Space physics

GCSE Physics Test Paper

The first test paper covers the first four topics in the syllabus, i.e. energy, electricity, particle model of matter and atomic structure.

The test will be written (rather than taken online) and lasts for 1 hour 45 minutes. Students will either take the test at the Foundation or Higher tier. There is a total of 100 marks, which account for 50% of your overall GCSE Physics grade.

The questions will include a combination of multiple-choice, structured, closed short answer and open response.

GCSE Physics Test Paper 2

The second test paper covers the last four topics in the syllabus, i.e. forces, waves, magnetism and electromagnetism and space physics.

The second test also lasts for 1 hour 45 minutes and pupils will sit the paper at either Foundation or Higher tier level. There are 100 marks in total and the paper contributes towards 50% of your overall GCSE physics grade.

Again, questions will include a combination of multiple-choice, structured, closed short answer and open response.

For more information on the GCSE physics test format, please visit the AQA website.

Our Tips for the GCSE Physics Tests

GCSE Physics preparation

At Exam Papers Plus, we help students improve their physics grades with our GCSE physics practice packs, so we know a thing or two about preparing for the tests. Here are our top tips for exam day:

  • Organise what you’ll need the night before. This includes equipment like scientific calculators, pens, pencils and revision notes.
  • Read each question carefully and try to identify the question ‘type’, i.e. multiple-choice, open response as well as the topic area. This will help guide you towards the type of answer examiners are looking for.
  • Check how many points the question is worth and try to identify where they will be awarded in your answer. If you can’t identify where all points will be awarded, you may need to extend what you’ve written.
  • Revise your answer before moving on to the next question. Sometimes it can help to re-read what you’ve written while you’re still in the mindset of the topic.
  • Try to give yourself time at the end of the test to double-check your answers. Specifically, make sure you haven’t mis-read any questions, numbers, or figures.
  • Try to stay calm throughout. If you find yourself struggling to answer a question, move on to the next one and return to it later. Sometimes it’s good to maintain your flow by answering questions you know the answer to first.
  • Stay until the end. Even if you notice other students leaving early, make sure you use all the allocated time to double-check your work. Even if you feel that you’ve done well, you should always assume that you’ve missed something and try to find it.

For information on how to make the most of your physics revision, take a look at our post How to Revise and Practice for GCSE Physics.

Also, check out this video from Science with Hazel, which provides some more last-minute GCSE physics test tips:

GCSE Physics Practice Tests

In the lead up to your physics exam, it helps to put theory into practice. Revising topic content is of course very useful, but there comes a time when you need to focus on applying what you know under exam conditions. At Exam Papers Plus, we publish physics packs that allow you to measure your current attainment level.

In creating our practice tests, we thoroughly analysed reports from previous years to ensure that our GCSE physics practice questions cover all the essential areas of the exam. We’ve also included questions that pupils tend to struggle with.

All of the GCSE practice papers that we publish are written and developed by former GCSE physics examiners and markers. Not only do our practice tests help students become familiar with the format of the tests, but they can also improve time management skills when taken under exam conditions.

Each pack focuses on the key skills that students need to develop to perform well in higher tier GCSE exams and includes detailed step-by-step answers and mark schemes for every question. Each question is labelled to identify the relevant exam boards.

We’d highly recommend the following resources in preparing for the GCSE physics tests:



GCSE Physics: Key Skills

All of our GCSE packs are available immediately after download.



Related posts:

GCSE Physics: Energy Questions and Answers

GCSE Physics: Understanding Exam Command Words

GCSE Physics: Working Scientifically

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