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Exam Tips for Physics

Quick revise

Planning your study

The last few months before taking your final GCSE examinations are very important in achieving your best grade. However, the success can be assisted by an organised approach throughout the course. This is particularly now that all the science courses are available in units.

  • After completing a topic in school or college, go through the topic again in your notes. Copy out the main points on a sheet of paper or use a highlighter pen to emphasise them.
  • Much of memory is visual. Make sure your notes are laid out attractively using spaces and symbols. If they are easy to read and attractive to the eye, they will be easier to remember.
  • A couple of days later, try to write out these key points from memory. Check differences between what you wrote originally and what you wrote later.
  • If you have written your notes on a piece of paper, keep this for revision later.
  • Try some questions and check your answers.
  • Decide whether you have fully mastered the topic and write down any weaknesses you think you have.

Preparing a revision programme
Before an external examination, look at the list of topics in your examination board's specification. Go through and identify which topics you feel you need to concentrate on. It is a temptation at this time to spend valuable revision time on the things you already know and can do. It makes you feel good but does not move you forward.

When you feel you have mastered all the topics, spend time trying sample questions that can be found on your examination board’s website. Each time, check your answers with the answers given. In the final week, go back to your summary sheets.

Four ways to improve your grade

1. Read the question carefully

Many students fail to answer the actual question set. Perhaps they misread the question or answer a similar question they have seen before. Read the question once right through and then again more slowly. Some students underline or highlight key words in the question as they read it through. Questions at GCSE contain a lot of information. You should be concerned if you are not using the information in your answer.

2. Give enough detail

If a part of a question is worth three marks you should make at least three
separate points. Be careful that you do not make the same point three times.
Draw diagrams with a ruler and label with straight lines.

3. Correct use of scientific language

There is important scientific vocabulary you should use. Try to use the correct scientific terms in your answers. The way scientific language is used is often a difference between successful and unsuccessful students. As you revise, make a list of scientific terms you meet and check that you understand the meaning of these words. Learn all the definitions. These are easy marks and they reward effort and good preparation.

4. Show your working

All science papers include calculations. Learn a set method for solving a calculation and use that method. You should always show your working in full. Then, if you make an arithmetical mistake, you may still receive marks for correct science. Check that your answer is given to the correct number of significant figures and give the correct units.