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Studying tips

- When your teacher is teaching in class, pay attention to what


your teacher says. Make sure you understand everything taught
by your teacher. If you do not understand anything, ask your
teacher or friends.
- You need notes or reference books that are complete. As far as
I know, no reference books in the market is complete. Instead, I
recommend you to use my notes. You can download my notes
here:
http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2014/06/full-notes-for-
cambridge-international.html
However, if you know of any reference book that is complete,
you may use it.
- When studying a chapter, read through all the explanations in
my notes or in the reference book sentence by sentence. Make
sure that you truly understand each sentence before moving on
to the next sentence. You also need to know and understand all
formulas. Certain topics may require understanding of earlier
topics, so make sure you understand those topics. You should
also try to relate them to what your teacher had taught in college
or school.
- You should be actively involved in all experiments carried out
in college or school because this can help improve your practical
skills which are essential for Paper 3 and Paper 5.
- Then, you have to remember everything that you understood.
You can memorise the sentences in my notes or in the reference
book, or you can also create your own sentences that have the
same meaning and memorise them. If you create your own
sentences, make sure that you do not change the original
meaning, do not leave out any important points and do not
change the important keywords and scientific terms. However,
do not just memorise without understanding. Once you have
understood, it will be quite easy to remember and you will be
unlikely to forget any of the points.
- For certain facts, there may be no explanation for them so it is
not possible to understand them. In that case, you have to
remember and memorise those facts.
- For the calculations, you need to know how to apply what you
have learnt and use the correct formula to solve the questions.
Go through all the example questions in my notes or in the
reference book. Make sure that you understand how every
question is solved.
- You have to regularly revise every topics again and again.
When revising, go through all the explanation, facts and
examples for calculation questions in my notes or in the
reference book. Make sure that you do not forget anything that
you have understood previously. Regular and repeated revision
will help you to remember all the explanation and facts for a
long time.
- When you have understood all topics, you have to do past year
A Level questions. They are available on the internet. After
doing the questions, refer to the mark scheme and do self
marking. The mark schemes can usually be found on the same
website as the past year questions.
- You should understand how the mark schemes are used. In the
mark schemes for Physics, there are 4 types of marks, which are
M, C, A and B. The A marks are always dependent on the M
marks, which means that A marks can only be scored if the M
marks are also scored. If a question does not have M mark, then
the A mark can be scored on its own. C marks are automatically
scored if the subsequent M or A mark is scored, even if the
points for the C marks are not written down, but if the
subsequent M or A mark is not scored, then the points for the C
marks must be written down in order for the C marks to be
scored. On the other hand, B marks are independent of any other
marks, which means that they can be scored without other marks
also being scored. If any Physics term is underlined or
highlighted, it means that the exact term must be used in the
answer and no other term is acceptable even if the meaning is
the same, but grammatical variants of the term is accepted. If
any non-Physics term is underlined or highlighted, it means that
either the exact term or other terms with the same meaning must
be used in the answer. If any words are placed in brackets, it
means that the words need not be present in the answer for the
mark to be scored. In the mark schemes, A means accept, I
means ignore while R means reject.
- When doing revision before exam, you should first go through
the subtopics that you think is more difficult or that you may
have forgotten. Then, go through other topics as well if possible.
- To prepare for Physics Paper 3 and Paper 5, you should go
through all the past year questions and the mark schemes. Find
out how every question is marked and which points need to be
included in the answers. The pattern of questions set is similar
for every year and you should familiarise yourself with the
pattern. Usually, the same type of questions will have similar
mark scheme, so this can help you when answering exam
questions. You should remember the answers for questions that
are common.
- For Physics Paper 3, I also suggest that you memorise my list
of 20 common answers (see below) for the limitations and
suggestions question which appears in the last part of Question
2. My list is based on the mark schemes for past year questions.
Usually 3 of the 4 answers required can be found in my list, and
the 1st answer in my list can be used for all experiments.
Sometimes, only 2 of the 4 answers required can be found in my
list, and sometimes, all the 4 answers required can be found in
my list. Note that for the parts of the answers in my list that are
placed in brackets, it means that you have to write those parts
based on the context of the experiment.

The List of Common Answers for the Limitations and


Improvements Question of Paper 3 Question 2:

(a) Two/three readings are not enough to make a valid


conclusion
- Take more readings and plot a graph
Note: This answer can be used for all experiments

(b) The value of (a physical quantity) is small so the percentage


uncertainty of (the quantity) is large
- (The way to make the value of the quantity larger)
(c) The movement/oscillation of (something) is affected by wind
movement
- Use a wind shield when carrying out the experiment

(d) Difficult to determine the start and end of


oscillation/movement of (something) because it moves too fast
- Use a video camera with slow motion feature and timer to
video the experiment with scale, then view the video playback
frame by frame.

(e) Difficult to release (something) without applying a force


- Use a mechanical hand to release the (thing)
(f) Difficult to shape the plasticine into the shape of (something)
- Use a mould to shape the plasticine

(g) Heat loss through the sides and bottom of beaker/container


- Use polystyrene container or insulate the beaker/container
Note: This answer should be used for experiments involving the
temperature of liquid.

(h) The (measuring instrument) is not precise enough


- Use another (instrument) with greater sensitivity and precision
Note: You should state in your answer the specific degree
of precision for the limitation and the improvement.

(i) The length/diameter/thickness of (something) is not uniform


- Measure the length around/along the (thing) and calculate the
mean

(j) Difficult to measure (something) due to (specific reason


based on experiment)
- (Suggest a better way to measure it)

(k) Parallax error when measuring (something)


- (Suggest a better way to measure it, such as use mirror scale)
Note: This answer should only be used if the measurement is
difficult to make and parallax error is very likely to occur.

(l) (Something) moves


- (Way to keep it in the original position)

(m) Oscillation does not occur in one plane only


Note: No possible improvement for this limitation. You should
write in your answer the improvement for any other limitation.

(n) Difficult to maintain (something) at (a particular position) /


maintain ruler vertical
- Use a clamp

(o) Difficult to zero the newton-meter when used horizontally


Note: No possible improvement for this limitation. You should
write in your answer the improvement for any other limitation.

(p) Friction at pulley


- Apply oil to lubricate the pulley

(q) Resistance of contacts


- Clean the contacts
Note: This answer should be used for electric experiments.

(r) Difficult to determine when (something) reach the maximum


height because it remains there for too short a time
(s) Difficult to take the reading of newton-meter immediately
when (something) starts to move
because it moves suddenly
(t) Difficult to start or stop the stopwatch immediately when
(something) passes through (somewhere)
- Use a video camera with slow motion feature and (the
measuring device) to video the experiment with scale, then view
the video playback frame by frame.
Note: The same improvement can be used for limitations r, s and
t.
2. Paper 1
- Read the question and all the options carefully. Write any
rough workings on the question paper if you need to. Cancel off
the options that you consider as definitely wrong. Then, choose
the most suitable answer among the options.

3. Paper 2 and Paper 4


- When answering, read the question and all information given
carefully. Make sure that you know what the question is asking
for. Answer the questions based on your knowledge and
understanding on the relevant topic in Physics. Certain questions
may test you on more than one topics. For some questions, you
may have to apply what you have learnt in Physics in order to
answer them. You have to think carefully and relate the question
to what you have learnt. You may also be asked to give your
own opinions.
- When writing your answer, you can use the same or similar
words or sentences as those in my notes or in the reference
books if possible. However, sometimes you may need to make
some changes in order to suit the question. You can also answer
in your own sentences that have the same meaning. If the
question asks on something that is not in my notes and the
reference books (the question requires you to apply what you
have learnt in Physics or give your own opinion), then you have
to answer in your own sentences. For all questions, your answer
must be specific and not too general. Give the most suitable
answer according to the question.
- You should use the correct Physics terms in your answer. Do
not replace them with other terms that are inappropriate, even if
their meaning are the same. You should spell all Physics terms
correctly. If you can't do so, try to spell it in such a way where it
sounds the same as the actual term when read out. Marks are
usually not deducted for spelling errors in Physics terms as long
as it still sounds the same and that it is not easily confused with
other terms. If you spell a non-Physics term wrongly or if you
make grammatical errors in your answer, marks will not be
deducted for as long as the examiner can understand what you
are writing. You are allowed to use suitable short forms in your
answer, especially for representing physical quantities or their
units.
- It is not compulsory to answer in continuous writing form. You
are allowed to answer in table form, point form or other suitable
forms. In suitable cases, you can also use diagrams, equations or
graphs in your answer.
- When answering questions on calculation, you should show all
workings. You should not skip any important steps. You must
also write the correct unit for the final answer if it is not
provided. You are advised to write down the formula used to
solve the question, even though it is not compulsory to do so.
The number of marks allocated for the question usually shows
the amount of working needed. 1 mark will be given for each
important step and the final answer. In some cases, if your final
answer is correct, full marks will be given and the workings will
not be marked. In other cases, marks can only be given for the
final answer if the marks for working are scored, where correct
answer without working scores 0 mark. Whichever case, if your
final answer is wrong but some of your working is correct, you
may still be given some marks. You are not allowed to write
extra solutions or answers. If you do so and any of the answers
or solutions is wrong, marks will be deducted. When copying
figures from the question or from your answer for the previous
part of the question, be careful not to copy wrongly. For a
calculation question which requires you to use your answer from
the previous question, even if your answer for the previous
question is wrong and you use it for this question causing your
answer for this question to be wrong, usually you will still get
full marks for this question as long as your calculation for this
question is correct. This is known as 'error carried forward'. For
questions on 'show', 'prove', 'derive' or similar, usually marks are
only given for the workings, not the answer, so it is important
that you show complete workings, and explain your workings if
necessary.
- Usually, you should give the final answer to 3 significant
figures. Do not write your final answer as a fraction or in surd
form. However, if the question asks you to give your answer to a
specific number of significant figures, then you must follow the
instruction, or if the question states that you must give your
answer to a suitable number of significant figures, then the
number of significant figures of your answer should be equal to
the number of significant figures of the raw value used in the
calculation with the least number of significant figures.
- When answering questions which requires you to give an
answer as well as an explanation to your answer, such as
questions that say 'State and explain', 'Suggest and explain' or
something similar, it is very important that you give a complete
and clear explanation. Marks can only be given for the answer if
the marks for explanation are scored. Therefore, correct answer
without satisfactory explanation usually scores 0 mark. On the
other hand, if your answer is wrong but some of your
explanation is correct, you may still be given some marks. In
other words, 'explain' is more important than 'state' or 'suggest'.
- For questions that require explanation or description, your
answer must be very detailed. You are advised to answer in
complete sentences so that your answer can be easily
understood. The number of marks allocated for the question
usually shows the number of points needed in your answer. 1
mark is given for each correct point. Some of the marks (A
marks) may be dependent on other marks (M marks), which
means that they can only be scored if the other marks are also
scored. Do not miss out any important points in your answer.
You are allowed to write extra points in your answer, but you
must be careful not to write any points with wrong facts. Marks
will only be given for the correct points. For points that are
irrelevant but does not contain wrong facts, no mark will be
given or deducted. However, for points that contain wrong facts,
marks may be deducted.
- For questions that do not require explanation or description,
write the answer straight away. You need not answer in
complete sentences. The number of marks allocated for the
question usually shows the number of answers needed. If the
question states the number of answers you have to write, then
you are not allowed to write extra answers. If you do so, marks
may not be given for the extra answers, and marks may be
deducted if any of them is wrong. If the question does not state
the number of answers you have to write, you are allowed to
write extra answers, but you must be careful not to write any
answer with wrong facts. Marks will only be given for the
correct answers. For answers that are irrelevant but does not
contain wrong facts, no mark will be given or deducted.
However, for answers that contain wrong facts, marks may be
deducted.
- When drawing diagrams, make sure that all important details
are included in the diagram you draw. You have to label
correctly all parts in the diagram. Your diagram should be clear
and neat.

4. Paper 3
- During the test, read the question and all information given
carefully. Make sure that you understand the experiment given.
Certain parts of the question require you to record the readings
from the experiment in a table. You should draw the tables
before carrying out the experiment so that you can record your
readings in the table straight away during the experiment. Then,
carry out the experiment by following the steps given in the
question exactly. You need to apply your Physics practical skills
when carrying out the experiment.
- Certain questions may require your knowledge and
understanding in Physics to answer them. You may also need to
give your own opinions. Your answer must be specific and not
too general. Give the most suitable answer according to the
question.
- When recording readings from an measuring instrument
(except metre rule, vernier calipers and micrometre screw
gauge), the number of decimal places used should be equal to
half of the smallest division of scale of the instrument (For
example, if the instrument's smallest division of scale is 0.1, you
should record the reading to the nearest 0.05, which is 2 decimal
places.) For digital instruments (except digital stopwatch), the
number of decimal places used should be the same as that shown
on the display. The reading should be recorded to the nearest
0.1cm for metre rule, 0.01cm for vernier calipers, 0.01mm for
micrometer screw gauge and 0.1s for stopwatch (both analogue
and digital). In all cases, do not give more or less number of
decimal places. You must also write the correct units.
- In most cases, you should take each reading twice, then
calculate and record the mean of the 2 readings. Ensure that you
show in your answer both readings and the calculation of their
mean. However, for the part in Question 1 which requires you to
record readings in a table, questions that carry only 1 mark and
questions which states that repeated readings are not required,
you only need to take each reading once and record it straight
away.
- When plotting graph, draw both the horizontal and vertical axis
on the graph paper correctly. Label both axis correctly and state
the unit (if any). Use a suitable scale for both axis and do not use
any odd scales such as 3:10. Both the x-axis and y-axis need not
start from 0. The scales should be chosen such that the points
plotted on graph cover at least half of the graph paper. The
markings on the scales should not be more than 3 large squares
apart. Plot all points on the graph accurately. The points should
be accurate to half a small square. For all the points, their
diameter should not be larger than half a small square. Then,
draw the correct straight line or curve. When drawing the
straight line or curve, it should pass through all points on the
graph if possible. If this is not possible, the line or curve should
pass through as many points on the graph as possible, all the
points should be close to it and the number of points above and
below the line or curve should be almost equal.
- When determining the gradient of the line of graph, choose 2
points on the line and draw a triangle. The distance between the
2 points chosen should be at least half the length of the line.
When determining the y-intercept of the line of graph, if the x-
axis starts from 0, you can read it off directly from the y-axis of
graph, or if the x-axis does not start from 0, you should choose a
point on the line, preferably one of the points that you used to
calculate its gradient, and substitute its x and y values as well as
the gradient into the equation y=mx+c to determine the value of
c which is the y-intercept.
- For any questions involving calculation, the number of
significant figures of your answer should be equal to or one
more than the number of significant figures of the raw value
used in the calculation with the least number of significant
figures. You should show all workings and do not skip any
important steps. You must also write the correct unit for the final
answer if it is not provided. You are not allowed to write extra
solutions or answers. If you do so and any of the answers or
solutions is wrong, marks will be deducted. For a calculation
question which requires you to use your answer from the
previous question, even if your answer for the previous question
is wrong and you use it for this question causing your answer for
this question to be wrong, usually you will still get full marks
for this question as long as your calculation for this question is
correct. This is known as 'error carried forward'.
- For the part of Question 2 which asks you to estimate the
percentage uncertainty in a particular value, in most cases the
absolute uncertainty used to calculate the percentage uncertainty
should be equal to twice the smallest division of scale of the
instrument used to measure the value (For both analogue and
digital stopwatch, the absolute uncertainty used should be 0.2s).
This is because the measurement for this part is often difficult to
be done accurately.
- For the part of Question 2 which asks you whether your results
support the suggested relationship between 2 variables, you have
to calculate the percentage difference between 2 values of a
constant which is obtained in previous part of the question. The
suggested relationship is supported if the percentage difference
is 5% or less and not supported if the percentage difference is
more than 5%.
- For the last part of Question 2 which is about limitations and
improvements, I would suggest that you use answers from my
list of 20 common answers (see above) that you memorised. The
1st answer in my list can be used for all experiments, so you
should always use it. You should also choose other answers
from my list which are relevant to the experiment. You may
have to give 1 or sometimes 2 other relevant answers that are not
in my list since usually not all the 4 answers required can be
found in my list. You are not allowed to write more than 4
answers. If you do so, marks may not be given for the extra
answers, and marks may be deducted if any of them is wrong.
- For all questions, you should use the correct experimental and
Physics terms in your answer. Do not replace them with other
terms that are inappropriate, even if their meaning are the same.
You should spell all experimental and Physics terms correctly. If
you can't do so, try to spell it in such a way where it sounds the
same as the actual term when read out. Marks are usually not
deducted for spelling errors in experimental and Physics terms
as long as it still sounds the same and that it is not easily
confused with other terms. If you spell other terms wrongly or if
you make grammatical errors in your answer, marks will not be
deducted for as long as the examiner can understand what you
are writing. You are allowed to use suitable short forms in your
answer, especially for representing physical quantities or their
units.

5. Paper 5 Question 1 (Planning Experiment)


- When answering, read the question given carefully. You have
to design a suitable experiment based on the question, either to
test whether the suggested relationship between 2 variables is
valid or to determine the value of a constant. Your answer must
include independent variable, dependent variable, variables to be
kept constant, diagram of set-up apparatus, procedure, data
analysis, safety precautions and additional details.
- For the independent variable and dependent variable, they can
be obtained easily from the question itself and you should give
one of each. For the variables to be kept constant, there is often
more than one and you should give all of them that you can
think of. Note that the term 'kept constant' or 'keep constant'
must be used in your answer and no other terms are acceptable.
You need not answer in complete sentences.
- For the diagram of set-up apparatus, show all the apparatus and
material used in the experiment and label them correctly. If a
diagram is provided by the question, you can use the same
diagram, but it is usually not complete and you have to add other
apparatus or materials to it.
- When writing the procedure, you must include the steps to
measure the manipulated variable, responding variable and
every variable to be kept constant. For each measurement, you
should state the method and apparatus used. For some variables,
you may have to measure other quantities in order to calculate
them. You are advised to answer in complete sentences so that
your answer can be easily understood. You should also include
other steps required to set up the apparatus if you did not show
them in the diagram.
- For the analysis of data, you should explain how a suitable
graph should be plotted that enables you to test whether the
suggested relationship between the 2 variables is valid or to
determine the value of the constant. Sometimes, the graph may
be a log-log graph or ln-ln graph. You should also show a sketch
of the graph. Then, explain how to determine whether the
suggested relationship is valid or to determine the value of the
constant based on the graph. This often involves the gradient, y-
intercept and rearranging of equation.
- For the safety precaution, you should state at least 2 potential
safety hazards when carrying out the experiment and the ways to
avoid each of them.
- For the additional details, 4 marks will be given and examples
of them are how variables are kept constant, calibration of the
measuring instruments and additional steps to improve the
accuracy and reliability. You may have already stated some of
them in other parts of your answer and it is not compulsory to
write them again in this part. In this section, you should state the
additional details that are not stated in other parts of your
answer.
- For all parts of the question, you are allowed to write extra
points in your answer, but you must be careful not to write any
points with wrong facts. Marks will only be given for the correct
points. For points that are irrelevant but does not contain wrong
facts, no mark will be given or deducted. However, for points
that contain wrong facts, marks may be deducted.
- You should use the correct experimental and Physics terms in
your answer. Do not replace them with other terms that are
inappropriate, even if their meaning are the same. You should
spell all experimental and Physics terms correctly. If you can't
do so, try to spell it in such a way where it sounds the same as
the actual term when read out. Marks are usually not deducted
for spelling errors in experimental and Physics terms as long as
it still sounds the same and that it is not easily confused with
other terms. If you spell other terms wrongly or if you make
grammatical errors in your answer, marks will not be deducted
for as long as the examiner can understand what you are writing.
You are allowed to use suitable short forms in your answer,
especially for representing physical quantities or their units.

6. Paper 5 Question 2 (Analysis, Conclusions and Evaluation)


- When answering, read the question and all information given
carefully. Make sure that you understand the experiment given
and know what the question is asking for. Answer the questions
based on the experiment and its observations and results. You
may need to apply your Physics experimental skills to answer
some questions. Certain questions may require your knowledge
and understanding in Physics to answer them.
- For the graph, plot all points on the graph accurately. The
points should be accurate to half a small square. Then, draw the
error bars based on the uncertainties of the values given in the
question. After that, draw line of best fit. The line should pass
through as many points on the graph as possible, all the points
should be close to it and the number of points above and below
the line should be almost equal. Next, draw the worst acceptable
line. It should be either the steepest possible line which passes
from the top of top error bar to the bottom of bottom error bar or
or the shallowest possible line which passes from the bottom of
top error bar to top of bottom error bar. The line must also pass
through all error bars.
- When determining the gradient of line of best fit, choose 2
points on the line and draw a triangle. The distance between the
2 points chosen should be at least half the length of the line. For
the uncertainty in gradient, you should also determine the
gradient of worst acceptable line using the same method. The
uncertainty in gradient is equal to the difference between the 2
gradients.
- When determining the y-intercept of line of best fit, usually
you cannot read it off directly from the y-axis of graph since the
x-axis does not start from 0. Instead, you should choose a point
on the line, preferably one of the points that you used to
calculate its gradient, and substitute its x and y values as well as
the gradient into the equation y=mx+c to determine the value of
c which is the y-intercept. For the uncertainty in y-intercept, you
should also determine the y-intercept of worst acceptable line
using the same method. The uncertainty in y-intercept is equal to
the difference between the 2 y-intercepts.
- When calculating the uncertainty in a calculated value, use
your knowledge in uncertainties that you learnt in Chapter 2 for
AS Level. However, if the calculation is too complicating or if it
involves logarithms, there is an alternative method. For this
method, you have to determine both the maximum value and
minimum value of the calculated value by using the maximum
values and/or minimum values of the raw values used in the
calculation of the calculated value based on their uncertainties.
You have to be very careful to ensure that the maximum value
and minimum value you determined are correct. The absolute
uncertainty is equal to half of the difference between the
maximum and minimum value.
- For any questions involving calculation, the number of
significant figures of your answer should be equal to or one
more than the number of significant figures of the raw value
used in the calculation with the least number of significant
figures. For absolute uncertainties, the number of decimal places
should be equal to the number of decimal places of the value.
You should show all workings and do not skip any important
steps. You must also write the correct unit for the final answer if
it is not provided. You are not allowed to write extra solutions or
answers. If you do so and any of the answers or solutions is
wrong, marks will be deducted. For a calculation question
which requires you to use your answer from the previous
question, even if your answer for the previous question is wrong
and you use it for this question causing your answer for this
question to be wrong, usually you will still get full marks for
this question as long as your calculation for this question is
correct. This is known as 'error carried forward'.