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Understanding the Distinction between Pure and Combined Physics

By June 26, 2023O Level Physics

In the realm of Upper Secondary education, Physics is one of the three science subjects available to students. They can opt to study either Pure or Combined Physics alongside Biology and/or Chemistry. Physics, being a cumulative subject, requires a solid grasp of formulas before they can be applied to solve problems. Some students may struggle with memorizing formulas, while others may find it challenging to apply them to various question scenarios. Given the difficulties faced by Secondary Physics students, it’s no surprise that Secondary School Physics Tuition and Physics Tuition are highly sought-after in Singapore.

Before delving into the five essential tips recommended by experienced Secondary Physics tutors, it’s crucial to understand the difference between Pure and Combined Physics and what each subject entails. The discrepancy lies in the syllabus, where the Combined Physics syllabus contains 20-25% less content compared to Pure Physics. Topics such as Temperature and Electromagnetic Induction are included in the Pure Physics syllabus but omitted from the Combined Physics syllabus. Moreover, the style of questioning also varies between the two. The questions in Pure Physics are typically more nuanced and indirect compared to those in Combined Physics. As a result, students studying Pure Physics need to allocate more time to their studies compared to their Combined Physics counterparts. For more information on the Physics syllabus, you can refer to this link.

Familiarize Yourself with the Exam Structure for O Levels Physics

The O Levels Physics paper consists of three sections: Paper 1 (Multiple Choice Questions), Paper 2 (Structured and Free Response Questions), and Paper 3 (Practical Test).

  • Paper 1: This section comprises 40 compulsory multiple-choice questions with a total of 40 marks. Students have one hour to complete this paper. Time management is crucial, and students should allocate about one minute per question, leaving enough time to review their work and double-check their answers.
  • Paper 2: Paper 2 consists of two sections—Section A and Section B. In Pure Physics, this component carries 80 marks and must be completed within one hour and 45 minutes. Section A includes a variable number of compulsory structured questions worth 50 marks, while Section B comprises three questions totaling 30 marks. For Combined Physics, Paper 2 accounts for 65 marks and requires completion within one hour and 15 minutes. Section A consists of compulsory structured questions worth 45 marks, while Section B presents three questions, of which students must answer two, totaling 20 marks. It’s crucial to break down the questions and carefully identify the concepts being tested to perform well in Paper 2.
  • Paper 3: Paper 3 includes practical tests and carries different weightage depending on whether it’s Pure Physics or Combined Physics. In Pure Physics, Paper 3 accounts for 40 marks and must be completed within one hour and 50 minutes. It consists of two sections—Section A (1-2 compulsory practical experiment questions worth 20 marks) and Section B (one compulsory practical experiment question worth 20 marks). In Combined Physics, Paper 3 carries 30 marks and must be completed within one hour and 30 minutes. It comprises two sections—Section A (compulsory structured questions worth variable marks totaling up to 45 marks) and Section B (three questions of which students must answer two, each worth 10 marks). Understanding the format and requirements of each paper is crucial for success in the O/N Levels Physics examination.

Master the Formulas Required for O Levels Physics

Physics, much like Mathematics, involves numbers and formulas. To excel in the subject, students must possess a strong command of the various formulas and be able to apply them to different scenarios. While formula sheets are provided during the examination, relying solely on them is insufficient for solving most questions. The provided formulas are fundamental and serve as a basic reference in case they are forgotten. However, students must be able to identify the concepts being tested and manipulate the formulas accordingly. Success in the O/N Levels Physics examination hinges on memorization and application. Memorizing the formulas is a prerequisite, as it saves time that would otherwise be spent referring to the formula list. However, it’s equally important to understand the variables in each formula, their significance, and how to manipulate them to suit the question at hand.

Create Your Own O Levels Physics Notes

Creating your own notes is an effective method of consolidating your Physics knowledge. Remember that your textbook is your primary resource, and comprehending its content is crucial for progress. Taking notes and summarizing each chapter actively reinforces your understanding. Each chapter encompasses multiple concepts, including definitions, formulas, and application methods. Rather than simply copying from the textbook, rewrite the information in your own words, using bullet points. This process helps you identify areas of understanding and areas that require further clarification. Taking notes is also essential during school, as Physics teachers often provide valuable tips and hints about what to expect in the Physics exam. By referring back to your notes, you can efficiently focus on important concepts that require additional attention.

Additionally, Physics examinations often include questions that test your knowledge of key definitions from each chapter. These are typically straightforward questions worth 1-2 marks, and it’s crucial not to overlook them. Consider compiling all the definitions in a separate notebook, highlighting the crucial keywords in each statement. This dedicated notebook will make it easier to refer to and memorize the definitions.

Master Answering Techniques

Practicing a variety of materials is essential for preparing for the O Levels Physics examination. The more questions you attempt, the better prepared you’ll be. Among all the papers available, completing past-year papers, particularly the Ten-Year Series, is crucial. The O Level Physics papers follow a standard format, and by practicing with past-year papers, you’ll become familiar with what to expect in the final exam. It’s also important to revise topic by topic before attempting past-year papers, ensuring you have a solid understanding of each topic in the syllabus. After completing topic-specific assessments, move on to past-year papers from other schools to expose yourself to different question formats. Finally, attempt the Ten-Year Series under simulated exam conditions to ensure you can complete the paper within the time constraints.

Seek Additional Help from Secondary Physics Tutors

There are several reasons why students may hesitate to ask questions in school, such as shyness, fear of appearing foolish among peers, or difficulty formulating questions. However, if you’re falling behind or struggling to understand certain concepts, it’s essential to seek additional help through private Physics tuition. A one-on-one tutoring session with a Secondary Physics tutor allows them to focus exclusively on your weak areas and address any doubts you may have. Experienced Secondary Physics tutors are familiar with common misconceptions and can guide you toward success in your Physics O Level examination.

The O Levels serve as a significant milestone for Secondary students, as their results influence their future career paths. Acing the Physics O Levels examination is particularly important because certain Polytechnic and University courses require Physics as a prerequisite.