How to Pass GCSE Physics
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When it comes to passing GCSE physics, there’s no substitute for hard work. However, there are some things you can do to make the most of your revision time. At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE physics packs, so we know a thing or two about organising your revision time. These are our top tips on how to pass GCSE physics:
Create an Organised Revision Plan
The first step to passing GCSE physics is getting organised. With two-years’ worth of classwork, you probably have several folders full of notes. We recommend that you create a new folder, compiling the most essential information that you’ll need for the exam.
There are eight topics that you’ll be asked questions on, over two test papers: energy; electricity; particle model of matter; atomic structure; forces; waves; magnetism and electromagnetism; space physics. Pull out any notes that refer to these topics and add them to your new revision folder.
With all your revision notes in one place, you’ll have all the information you need to hand when revising each topic.
You should also create a revision timetable to organise what topics you’ll study and when. A diary or a spreadsheet is all you need to record your plan, although we find that using a wall planner is the most effective format for a revision timetable. With a wall planner, you’ll have a visual representation of how many weeks are left to your exam and you can chart your progress by marking off each day that you complete.
Use Different Revision Techniques
There comes a point in everyone’s revision where they hit a wall and find it difficult to motivate themselves. We find that adding some variety to your studying can help increase your enthusiasm. The following methods aim to improve your exam technique, so you’ll need practice test papers to begin.
Revision cards – Have a friend or family member write a selection of physics questions on to individual A5 cards with the answers on the back. Whenever you feel your motivation dwindling, pick up a revision card and answer it as quickly as you can. This technique is great for encouraging you to think on your feet.
Timed questions – Using the stopwatch function on your mobile, give yourself a time limit for answering practice questions. For higher mark questions, give yourself around 3 minutes. For shorter questions, you may only need 1 minute to answer. This technique is good for improving your time management skills and getting you used to answering questions under pressure.
Group quiz – Studying as part of a group is a great way to keep you motivated. Organise a group of classmates and assign a quizmaster to ask questions from a practice test. Have everyone swap their answer sheets and mark each other’s papers. The winner is the student with the most points.
Practice Different Physics Question Types
One of the most effective ways to prepare for your physics exam is to practice identifying the types of questions you could be asked. There are four different types of questions in the GCSE physics exam: multiple choice; structured; closed short answer; open response. Identifying the question type can help guide your answer as you’ll have a good idea of how to structure your response.
Let’s look at each question type in more detail:
Multiple choice – Usually, multiple choice questions are worth one mark in GCSE physics. Some questions are designed to test your ability to retain facts, whereas others require you to apply a formula to work out the answer. Students often make the mistake of thinking that multiple choice questions don’t take long to answer. You should always ensure you allocate enough time to these questions as they’re often more difficult than students imagine.
Structured – These questions typically use a command word to guide you in the right direction, e.g. ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘calculate’ etc. The key to answering structured questions is to put yourself in the examiner’s shoes and ask what they’re looking for. Multi-step structured questions should be presented logically and you should be able to identify where you’ll pick up points.
For more advice on answering structure questions with command words, read our post GCSE Physics: Understanding Command Words.
Closed short answer – closed short answer questions typically require you to answer within one sentence. They’re usually worth between 1 and 3 marks and assess your ability to recall facts and processes. One of the most challenging aspects of answering these types of questions is gauging how long your answer should be to gain maximum points.
Open response – This type of question is usually worth the most marks in a test paper. They’re usually multi-step questions that require you to work scientifically and demonstrate your knowledge and understanding. Like structured questions, you should always show your working and pay attention to how you present your answer.
For further advice on working scientifically, read our post GCSE Physics: Working Scientifically.
You can see practical examples of all four GCSE physics question types in our sample energy questions.
Use Good Physics Resources
After reading through this guide on how to pass GCSE physics, you’ve probably realised the importance of having sample test papers to practice with. At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE physics revision packs that cover all eight topics in the syllabus. Our packs also provide sample questions for each of the four question types in the exam.
Our revision packs can help boost your confidence in the lead up to the exam. The more often you practice with sample questions, the more familiar you’ll become with the structure of the test and what the examiners expect from your answers.
When we created our GCSE packs, we thoroughly analysed examiners’ reports from previous years to ensure that we covered all the essential elements of the physics exam. Our physics packs also include some of the most challenging questions that you’re likely to come up against in the exam, so you’ll be prepared for every eventuality.
When taken under timed conditions, our packs can help you get used to answering questions quickly and under pressure, thus improving your time management skills.
All of our GCSE packs are written and developed by former GCSE physics examiners and markers. They focus on the key skills that you’ll need to do well in higher tier GCSE exams.
We’d highly recommend the following resources to help with your GCSE physics revision:
All of our packs are available immediately after download.