GCSE Physics Topics: What You Need to Know for the Exam
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Having two years’ worth of coursework to get your head around before the GCSE physics exam is a tall order. To help make things easier for you, we’ve collated all the topics you’ll need to know for the tests.
There are eight main subject areas in the exam, spread out over two test papers:
- Particle model of matter
- Atomic structure
- Magnetism and electromagnetism
- Space physics
In the first paper, you’ll be asked questions on subjects 1-4, i.e. energy; electricity; particle model of matter and atomic structure.
The second paper covers subjects 4-8: forces; waves; magnetism and electromagnetism and space physics.
For more information on the GCSE physics test format, please visit the AQA website.
Within each of the eight subject areas, there are individual topics that delve deeper into the mechanics of GCSE physics. Here’s a breakdown of all the topics that you could be assessed in on exam day:
- Changes in energy stores
- Energy and heating
- Energy demands
- Work, power and efficiency
- Electric circuits
- Mains electricity
- Static electricity
Particle Model of Matter Topics
- Density of materials
- Particles in gases
- Temperature changes and energy
Atomic Structure Topics
- Atoms, isotopes and ions
- Models of the atom
- Nuclear fission and fusion
- Radioactive decay
- Uses and dangers of radiation
- Black body radiation
- Contact and non-contact forces
- Describing motion
- Forces, acceleration and Newton’s Laws
- Forces and elasticity
- Moments, levers and gears
- Properties of waves
- Pressure in fluids
- Reflection and refraction
- Scalar and vector quantities
- Sound and ultrasound
- Transverse and longitudinal waves
- Waves Topics
Magnetism and Electromagnetism
- Electromagnetic induction
- Magnetic fields
- The expanding Universe
- The life cycle of a star
- The Solar System
How to Organise GCSE Physics Topics for Revision
Now that you have an overview of the topics that could come up in the exam, the next step is to organise them into a revision schedule. All you really need to create one is a spreadsheet or a diary where you can record what you plan to study and when. However, our preferred format for a revision schedule is a wall planner.
With a wall planner, you have a visual representation of how many weeks you have left to your exam. You can clearly see what topics you’re due to study and on what days. It’s also really satisfying marking off each day on the calendar as you complete a revision session.
In addition to revising each topic, we suggest that you introduce GCSE physics practice tests into your schedule early. Not only do they provide you with an indication of your current attainment, but they’re a great way to chart your progress as you study.
GCSE Physics Practice Tests
If only revising for your physics exam was as simple as reading through your revision notes. The most effective way to put theory into practice is to use practice tests. At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE physics revision packs that help students become familiar with the layout of the test papers. Our packs also provide an indication of the types of questions that you’ll be asked on the day.
When we created our GCSE practice tests, we thoroughly analysed reports from previous years to ensure that our sample questions cover all the essential areas of the exam. And to help you prepare for every eventuality, we included some of the most challenging questions that we know students tend to struggle with.
All of the GCSE practice papers that we publish are written and developed by former GCSE physics examiners and markers. When taken under timed, exam conditions, our tests can help you get used to answering questions quickly and under pressure, improving your time management skills.
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:
All of our GCSE packs are available immediately after download.