Revising for AS Physics? Make Sure You’re Revising In The Most Effective Way
Revising for AS Physics? If you’re currently studying for your AS or A-level Physics exams, then you are almost certainly starting to feel the strain. Exams are now rapidly approaching and you’re probably finding topics that you don’t understand very well at all. It takes time to read back through your notes and textbooks but you must not let that distract from the real business of exams and revision.
Exams are not all about knowing the subject inside out. It’s quite possible to do well in a Physics exam without knowing everything on the syllabus. Equally, you can do very badly, even if you do every detail on the syllabus.
Not counting good luck, there is only one way you can do really well in exams. That is to get good at doing exams. You need to be able to guess at what it says on the markscheme. You need to use the various clues left by the examiner. For example, few students really use the number of marks given for a question to help inform their answer. This information is vital, especially when it comes to managing time in an exam. Make sure you stick to the one mark per minute rule. Do this and you won’t run out of time ever.
Make sure you understand the question’s action words. For example a “Suggest” question almost certainly has the sentence “accept any sensible suggestion” in the markscheme. It’s the examiner’s way of asking you questions that are off syllabus and really test your thinking.
In Physics, a “Define” question is best answered with a word equation. You can give the equation in symbols but you must remember to define all the terms that appear in it. Students that try to write a fully written answer invariably tend to waffle and drop marks.
Waffling is your number one enemy. Allow yourself to waffle answers and you will drift away from the point and eventually you won’t be answering the question at all. What’s more, you will start to eat into your precious time and break the “one mark per minute rule”.
Never forget units. If an answer is given without a valid unit you can expect to lost the answer mark.
Most of all, revise thoroughly. Don’t waste time copying notes or reading the textbook. Instead base your revision on the answering of exam questions. Get hold of as many past papers as you possibly can and work through them. Try doing them under timed conditions.
This is, without a doubt, the most effective way to revise AS or A-level Physics.
Ian Hardiman is a practising Physics teacher and journalist.