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Homework High
Study Skills
Study SkillsScience

Study Skills offers tips on how to revise and cope with course work

Using formulae
Usual physics topics
Exam board websites

1. Preparation
From your teacher, find out:
  • your exam board - these are the people who set the course (see below)
  • the name of the course (maybe the code number)- each board has more than one course in science (e.g. Science A, Science B, Salters Science or other)
  • whether you are taking single or double award science or GCSE Physics
  • the tier you are entered for (higher or intermediate)
Go to the exam board's website and follow the links for GCSE / science and then the course that you are taking. You will be able to download:
  • the specification for the course. This tells you everything that is in the course (don't be put off by it when you first see it)
  • some specimen papers or example questions (not always available)
Find somewhere to work. This should be comfortable, quiet, private, well lit and have a desk. You might select more than one place so that you can have a change of scenery during revision. Good places include: your bedroom, sitting room (at some times of the day), a local library, school library.

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2. Planning
Make a revision calendar for all your subjects. This will help you focus your efforts and make revision more effective and even satisfying. You should aim to start your revision as soon as possible (but be realistic).
  • A wall chart is a good method - draw a large grid for all the days between now and your exams (the squares need to be big enough to write in). You could make the square the shape and size of post-it notes and use these to write on.
  • Decide how much time you can spend on revision each day (this will be less while you are still having normal lessons).
  • Leave some days spare at the end and during revision. You can use these as reward days.
  • Decide which subjects need more revision than others; give them more time.
  • Fill in the subjects on the wall chart. So, on Tuesday afternoons before you start study leave, it might say 1hr: Physics. After study leave starts, you will have whole days available.
  • Take note of how many Physics sessions you've got on the wall chart and how long they are.
Open the course specification for Physics. You need the section that tells you what's in the course. This is usually in the middle and will be called something like Course Content.

It will probably be split into units. It's worth printing out all these units. They will be useful later.

You might have Biology and Chemistry units as well as Physics. However, there will be about 12 Physics units (see below). Use the specification to make your own list.

Divide the Units up between the Physics sessions that you have on your revision calendar.

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3. Revising
  • Follow your revision planner. Reward yourself when you achieve targets. But don't be down on yourself if you don't finish something when you meant to. Just make a note on your planner and come back to it.
  • Use the topics from the specification to see what you need to know. There are usually two types of requirement:
    1. know that . . . : this means you have to learn it. Sometimes it will be a little bit of knowledge like "know that UV light is present in sunlight". That's it. Sometimes, it will carry quite a lot of knowledge. For example, "know how radio waves can be used for communication." In this case, you will need to check your textbook, your notes and some questions and answers.

    2. You will also need to know some formulae. See below.
    3. understand that . . .: this means you don't need to remember a thing but you should be able to answer questions about it.
  • Scribble things down (formulae or diagrams).
  • Give yourself little tests (read half a page, then turn the book over and see if you remember it).
  • Use questions that you were set as homework during the course: try answering them again from the text book.
  • Use the specimen papers from the board (if they had them). This will make things stick in your memory.
  • Take breaks. Take a short break (2 minutes) every 15 minutes and a longer break every hour or hour and a half. The exact timings are whatever works for you. In the break, do something that is a real break: walk round the garden, have a chat or have something to eat. Watching TV isn't a good idea because you'll want to see the whole programme. Reward yourself with treats. If you get everything done in a day, then watch a video, go out with friends or play some sport.
  • Get physical exercise (in your breaks or as rewards). It's good for your body and mind!
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. Try to stop working about an hour before you go to bed
    • Stick to your normal bedtimes
    • Don't work through the night - especially the day before an exam be careful about how much caffeine you have (this includes coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks and chocolate). It could be keeping you awake at night.
  • If you get stuck on understanding something, use your teachers, the Internet and, of course, Homework High.
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4. Exams
This is what it was all about.
  • Get a good night's sleep the night before (don't work late).
  • Plan your timings in the exam - make sure you don't spend too long on a question.
  • Before you answer a question, make sure you understand it and know what they are asking for.
  • Check and recheck your answers at the end (again make sure you have given them what they asked for).
  • Don't talk to anyone after the exam (unless you really trust them). Forget it and move on.

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5. Using Formulae
You will have to learn and be able to use some formulae. The specification will have a list of formulae that you need to know.

Most of them are two things multiplied together or divided. For example, speed = distance ÷ time. You might write it as:
Speed = Distance/Time
Some people find it helpful to put these in a triangle:
Distance/(speed x time)

When you want to find out one of the quantities, you put your finger over it and use what's left. So, to find out time, you cover it up and you are left with distance divided by speed. And this is what the answer will be.

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6. Usual Physics Topics
These are the topics or units that you will find in most Physics GCSEs and the Physics section of a Science GCSE. There may be others or they may be called something slightly different.
  1. Electricity - simple DC circuits
  2. Mains electricity
  3. Static electricity
  4. Force and acceleration
  5. Force and motion
  6. Waves
  7. The electromagnetic spectrum
  8. Sound
  9. Solar system
  10. Work, energy and power
  11. Electromagnetism
  12. Radioactivity
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7. Exam Board Websites

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BBC Schools revision site
Test bites, quick quizzes and games to reinforce how much you know

BBC Onion Street
Community website: talk to people to own age, and get advice on revision technique and dealing with school stress

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