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Exam Tips & Tricks

How to pass physics

To pass your physics exam you must revise but sometimes revision isn’t enough, you need some help.

This website might be just what you need.

Written by a teacher with 40 years of experience to help his own students (you’ll see them in some of the drawings) understand and apply the concepts of physics.

Designed for the IB but applicable to any secondary school physics course, the site contains 350 short videos that use animations to explain some of the more difficult concepts of the course. each set of videos is followed by about 10 multiple choice questions.

Watch the videos to refresh your understanding then test it with the questions.

There’s not much you have to remember but there is some stuff. This is listed clearly at the start of each section. Make sure you remember it.

Most questions on a physics exam involves some sort of problem solving, some people are good at this and some not. Success at problem solving is a lot about confidence but is difficult to be confident when you don’t know how to start.

Here’s the cool part

The virtual tutor will patiently guide you through the steps required to solve problems up to Olympiad level. If you are not sure of the question it will be clarified, if you have forgotten a definition you will be reminded and if you don’t understand a concept it will be explained. Once you know what physics to apply it’s often just a matter of manipulating equations to find the answer. this will all be split into stages with animations to show the bits you can’t do.

By using the virtual tutor you will learn how to solve problems, top up your understanding of concepts and brush up your mathematical skills all at the same time. There are even some funny bits.

The virtual tutor is a network of connected pages, by analyzing the path you take we will be able to evaluate how effective this approach is and give you feedback on strengths and weaknesses. The ultimate aim being to guide student from problem to problem on a network custom built to address your individual needs. This beta version does not have this feature yet.

10 Hints from examiners

  1. sometimes you have to memorise things.
  2. take note of units, they mean something.
  3. Draw diagrams to help visualize the problem.
  4. Structure your calculations giving full explanations of steps.
  5. Understand the language of the question.
  6. Sometimes you have to make an educated guess.
  7. Use proportions rather than full equations when possible.
  8. Don’t jump to conclusions, read question carefully.
  9. Be careful
  10. Learn to use yourcalculator

Misconceptions

There are several misconcpetions that examiners like to play on, here a some of them and the videos from this site that relate to them.

When a body moves in a circle there is no force outwards.

To lift a body at constant velocity does not require a force bigger than weight.

The reaction to weight is not the normal force.

Negative acceleration does not imply reduction in speed.

BE is lost not stored in the nucleus.

No work is done when the force is perpendicular to motion.

EMF and PD are not the same.

How do charges become rearranged in a battery.

Resistance is the ratio V/I not ΔV/ΔI.

Heat and energy are not the same

Potential energy is not always mgh.

There is a magnetic S situated at the North pole of the Earth.

Mass is not the same as weight.

electrons orbit the nucleus

Molecules in a liquid are not always further apart than those in a solid.

air molecules do not vibrate when a sound wave passes.

The normal force acts normal to the surface not vertically.

When in orbit you are not weightless you just feel like you are.

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