Tips for Writing Physics Exams
Physics exams will be much less intimidating for you if you prepare for it instead of thinking about it shortly before the exam date. Working conscientiously and efficiently from the start of the course will give you the best possible chance of understanding your physics curriculum and having a good exam experience.
- Write in all measurement units, not only in the final answer but in the calculations steps as well. You will likely lose marks if you don’t do this. In addition, if you write in all the units you are more likely to notice when you have to do a unit conversion in order to get the correct answer.
- Make sure that you use significant figures (or significant digits) if they are required.
- Draw graphs neatly, using your ruler for the axes. Don’t forget to label the axes and state the measurement scale that you are using.
- Never leave blank spaces on your answer sheet. If time is running out and you have no idea what the correct answer for a multiple choice question is, circle any of the answers. If there are four possible answers, you have a 25% chance of being right. If you can eliminate an obviously wrong answer (or answers), your chance of choosing the right response increases.
- If you can’t solve a word problem, list the data, draw a graph or a diagram that you think might be relevant, or write a formula or fact that you think might be related to the problem. You might get partial marks for your answer.
- Check all your answers before you hand in your exam. When you’re writing the exam, make a note beside problems that you leave out so that you know you have to come back to them at the end.
- If you have to answer multiple choice questions by shading in circles on a computer scan sheet, make sure that you’ve marked the circles that correspond with your intended answers.
- If you discover that you’ve made an error in a multiple choice question, change the answer very clearly, especially if the answer is written on a computer scan sheet. Erase any stray marks on the answer sheet.
- If you’re not completely certain about how to answer a multiple choice question, it might be a good idea to go with the first answer that you chose instead of second-guessing yourself.
Don’t Be Intimidated by physics Exams
A former principal of a school where I once taught liked to give the following advice to Grade 12 students: “Don’t be intimidated by the exam. You intimidate the exam.” He certainly wasn’t encouraging students to be overconfident, but he was encouraging them to be confident in the fact that they had studied well and that they would pass the exam if they made an honest effort.
“Intimidating” an exam might be not be possible if you haven’t worked during the course or have left studying until the last moment. A physics exam will be much less intimidating for you if you prepare for it instead of thinking about it shortly before the exam date. Working conscientiously and efficiently from the start of the course will give you the best possible chance of understanding your physics curriculum and having a good exam experience.
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While many people feel a little tense when they start an exam, if you’ve prepared properly your nervousness should soon fade and you will be able to not only pass your physics exam but also get a good mark to reward you for your efforts throughout the course.
Physics Practice Problems
The questions in the resource mentioned below are based on the British Columbia Grade 12 Physics curriculum. Answers are provided and can be checked once the quiz is finished. Even though the curriculum may not be identical to yours, some or many of the questions may be useful to you. Try to find practice exams for your own curriculum as well.
How should I study for a Physics exam?
In your textbook, read the chapter introduction and/or the review at the end of the chapter for each topic that you need to know.
Answer a few of the questions at the end of each of the relevant chapters to refresh your memory. Try to choose the questions that you feel are most important, since there probably won’t be enough time to do them all. You can solve additional problems if there’s time left at the end of your review
Try a few questions from each worksheet or lab report that you completed during the course. Once again, choose problems that you feel will be most useful or that cover the most points that you need to know, since your time is limited.
If you decide to follow these suggestions, you need to apply them to your particular situation. If your course didn’t use a textbook or your instructor rarely referred to it, for example, you will probably have to ignore the first two suggestions. If you have a huge binder filled with your work, you need to think about whether the notes or the worksheets are the most important sections to review.
One thing that I noticed is that you asked how you could understand the subject in a week. If you are very confused and feel that you’ve learned nothing in the course, I’m afraid that one week is almost certainly not enough time to understand the course. If you mean that you want to know how to refresh your memory about topics that you do understand, then a lot can be done in a week (though the results probably won’t be as good as they would have been if you had started to study earlier).
You should study physics every day. Make sure that you get enough sleep, though, or you will be too tired to write the exam. If there are a few topics that confuse you, make sure that you get help from your instructor well before the week is up.
Remember that my ideas are only suggestions. The nature of your course and your knowledge of the study techniques that work best for you will affect your plan.
I try so hard to pass physics but I always get a C. What should I do to improve?
I suggest that you get individual help. First, see if your teacher can help you either during class or outside of class time. Next, see if there is a physics tutor available in your area. If you can’t afford a tutor, try asking another student who does well in physics to help you. Perhaps you could offer to help them in another subject in return for their aid. You should also consider whether a relative or family friend has studied physics and could help you with your course. You might be able to get online help, too, but you need to find a site that covers your curriculum well and allows students to ask questions and receive answers (and is free to use).
I try so hard to practice questions for my Physics exams, but all I get is a B. What should I do to get an A?
One step that might be helpful is to get a tutor or attend a tutorial session. You may or may not have to pay for academic help. Some schools offer free help sessions after classes have finished for the day. Also, many teachers are willing to assist individual students outside of class time, provided they know about the visit in advance. You might be able to get help from a fellow student who finds physics easy. Perhaps you could offer to help them in another subject or activity in exchange for their aid. If you do need to pay a tutor, university students often charge cheaper rates than professional tutors.
I find the turning effect of force hard to understand. How can I improve my knowledge?
Many sources of information are available and may be helpful for you. First, if you haven’t already done so, ask your teacher if they can help you or if they know about some good websites that match your curriculum and discuss the turning effect of force. The teacher may also have some extra problems that you could try. You could also explore the Internet on your own. I just did a search for “turning effect of force” and found informational websites, example problems, quizzes, and YouTube videos that might be helpful for you. A good friend of yours or a relative who understands the topic may be another source of help.