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PAT syllabus

revised 24 February 2014


Syllabus for Part A of the aptitude test (mathematics for physics)
Elementary mathematics: knowledge of elementary mathematics, in particular topic
s in arithmetic, geometry including coordinate geometry, and probability, will b
e assumed.
Algebra: properties of polynomials, including the solution of quadratics. Graph
sketching and transformations of variables. Inequalities and their solution. Ele
mentary trigonometry including relationships between sin, cos and tan (sum and d
ifference formulae will be stated if required). Properties of logarithms and exp
onentials. Arithmetic and geometric progressions and the binomial expansion.
Calculus: differentiation and integration of polynomials including fractional an
d negative powers. Differentiation as finding the slope of a curve, and the loca
tion of maxima, minima and points of inflection. Integration as the reverse of d
ifferentiation and as finding the area under a curve. Simplifying integrals by s
ymmetry arguments.
Physics: knowledge of elementary physics will be assumed. Questions may require
the manipulation of mathematical expressions in a physical context.
If there are parts of the syllabus which you think won't be covered at school by
the time of the PAT, we expect you to work on them by yourself. Your teachers m
ight be able to advise you.
Syllabus for Part B of the aptitude test (physics)
Mechanics: distance, velocity, speed, acceleration, and the relationships betwee
n them. Interpretation of graphs. Response to forces; Newton's laws of motion; w
eight and mass; addition of forces; circular motion. Friction, air resistance, a
nd terminal velocity. Levers, pulleys and other elementary machines. Springs and
Hooke's law. Kinetic and potential energy and their inter-conversion; other for
ms of energy; conservation of energy and momentum; power and work.
Waves and optics: longitudinal and transverse waves; amplitude, frequency, perio
d, wavelength and speed, and the relationships between them. Basic properties of
the electromagnetic spectrum. Reflection at plane mirrors. Refraction and eleme
ntary properties of prisms and optical fibres including total internal reflectio
n. Elementary understanding of interference and diffraction.
Electricity and magnetism: current, voltage (potential difference), charge, resi
stance; relationships between them and links to energy and power. Elementary cir
cuits including batteries, wires, resistors, filament lamps, diodes, capacitors,
light dependent resistors and thermistors; series and parallel circuits. Elemen
tary electrostatic forces and magnetism; electromagnets, motors and generators.
Current as a flow of electrons; thermionic emission and energy of accelerated el
ectron beams.
Natural world: atomic structure. Structure of the solar system. Phases of the mo
on and eclipses. Elementary treatment of circular orbits under gravity including
orbital speed, radius, period, centripetal acceleration, and gravitational cent
ripetal force. Satellites; geostationary and polar orbits.
Mathematics: knowledge of elementary mathematics will be assumed. Questions may
require the manipulation of mathematical expressions in a physical context.

Problem solving: problems may be set which require problem solving based on info
rmation provided rather than knowledge about a topic.
If there are parts of the syllabus which you think won't be covered at school by
the time of the PAT, we expect you to work on them by yourself. Your teachers m
ight be able to advise you.
Calculators and tables
No calculators or tables may be used. Candidates may be expected to perform stan
dard arithmetical operations by hand, including multiplication and division, sim
ple powers and roots, and the manipulation of fractions. Answers in Part A shoul
d be given exactly unless indicated otherwise. Numeric answers in Part B should
be calculated to 2 significant figures unless indicated otherwise. Knowledge of
the values of sin, cos and tan for angles of 0, 30, 45, 60 and 90 degrees (and a
ngles offset from these by multiples of 90 degrees) may be assumed.
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