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Exams coming up - discussion.

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So the Physics exams are nearing!

Which topics would you probably choose on paper 2?

I know I'd probably choose nuclear physics, heat and mechanics, and I'l try to avoid electricity and electromagnetism and resolution/polarizers,

Which exam do you prefer, 1, 2 or 3?

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Hi there. Just a few hints from a teacher (was an examiner a few times, too).

Physics SL

Paper 1: some students love it, some hate it (not really much brainbusting info there!) However, keep in mind that the questions do follow the topics in order, for the most part. That means the first questions are topic 1, the next are topic 2, etc.

Actually, I did some looking at each of the past exams from May 2009, Nov 2009, May 2010, Nov 2010, May 2011 and Nov 2011. Here were the averages for Physics SL, as an example:

Paper 1:

Questions 1-2 = Topic 1 (Physics and physical measurement)

Questions 3-8 = Topic 2 (Mechanics)

Questions 9-11 = Topic 3 (Thermal physics)

Questions 12-15 = Topic 4 (Oscillations and waves)

Questions 16-18 = Topic 5 (Circuits)

Questions 19-21 = Topic 6 (Fields and Forces)

Questions 22-24 = Topic 7 (Nuclear Physics)

Questions 25-30 = Topic 8 (Energy, Power, Climate Change).

These numbers deviated very little from one exam to the next. That means that topic 2 and topic 6 almost always have six questions for each of them! Just those two topics make up more than a third of the paper 1. Hint hint, make sure you know those topics well. Waves has an average of 4 questions on it.

Paper 2:

Question A1 is ALWAYS about something weird you've likely never heard of. Don't panic - this is because it's mainly looking at how you can deal with graphs, error bars, and interpolating data. It's REALLY important to be able to make conclusions based on the graphs, especially linearization (being able to tell what should be graphed against what in order to get a straight line - and what the slope and y.intercept tell you)

The rest of the A questions (A2 and A3) tend to change with respect to which topic is being addressed. Topics 2 and 8 are often addressed here. Three different exams had A2 and A3 covering topics 2 and 8. Other exams had topics 5, 6 or 3 showing up roughly evenly.

As for the B1, B2 and B3 questions, B1 is by far most often a mix of topics 2 and 8 (it shows up like this on average 4 out of every 5 exams!). Can you sense a recurring theme here? Remember that you have to solve all the A questions, but you can choose one of the three B questions.

B2 addresses topic 4 and 7 most often (on average 3 out of 5 exams), although sometimes I've seen topic 5 show up once in a while here, but almost always with topic 4.

B3 tends to be a mix. Topic 8 is STILL heavily favored here, although topics 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 also show up.

Does that mean you can predict this year's exam? No. But can you have a good idea what to expect? Sure thing!

ADVICE: Make sure you really know your data booklet - what the equations are used for and what each variable means. If you get stuck on a question, think about what topic it is and then see if the data booklet for that topic jogs your memory at all. As for which of the B questions to choose, don't count out a topic that you don't like. Sometimes the topic you like will have a tough question, while a topic you don't like is really easy. I highly recommend reading all of the B questions carefully when you first get your paper 2 - maybe it will surprise you to see a 'hard' topic is actually pretty easy.

Physics HL

As for Physics HL, the statistics aren't as clear - they do change a lot as far as which questions address which topics, but for the most part, the Paper 1 follows the topics in order, while paper 2 A1 is still similar to the Physics SL - it's all about graphing, error bars, and linearization. In fact, linearization shows up very often on the Physics HL. The B questions (you have to choose 2 of the 4) also change more with respect to what is asked most often. The results aren't as clear as for the Physics SL.

Good luck with your exam preparations!

Cheers,

Mitch

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