Do you want to improve your A Level Physics grade to A?
When we were studying for A Level Physics (H1 / H2), we came across a number of problems, and you probably have experienced them before. These problems prevent us from scoring our A.
- I don’t understand how different concepts link together (e.g. gravitational potential, gravitational potential energy, and gravitational force)
- When do I use each formula?
- Physics definitions – How many and which ones do I need to memorise?
- Structured questions – Huge portion of marks are usually lost for this section when they require us to tackle the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions
You might be wondering:
How do I work on these problems to improve my A Level Physics grade?
If you are reading this, you are probably a J1/2 student and still have at least a year to put in the work to massively improve your grades (or maintain them) before the A Level Physics exams.
In this post, we will share with you some actionable tips to improve your understanding of Physics concepts and do well in the exams.
Who are we?
At alevelnotes.org, we are A Level graduates who love making notes. Over the years, we have compiled different Physics resources together to build a comprehensive and rigourous set of notes.
On this platform, we will be sharing our notes for free.
Join us to further improve these notes to build the most comprehensive and useful set of notes for A Levels together.
Here are 3 key steps which we think are effective to improve your Physics grade!
Step 1: Use the Feynman Technique to understand A Level Physics concepts faster
What is the Feynman Technique?
Richard Feynman was one of the greatest Physicists who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for his work on quantum electrodynamics. Other than being a brilliant scientist, he was also a very good teacher in explaining Physics concepts simply to his students.
The Feynman Technique was named after him, and it involves breaking down concepts into their “First Principles” and explaining them in layman terms as if you are teaching them to someone completely new to the ideas. Let’s watch this video for a brief introduction!
So… why does this technique work?
As mentioned in the video:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Basically, if you have fully understood a concept, you will be able to explain it and teach it to others in simple terms in your own words without referring to any study material. We learn and absorb information best when we teach others.
Similarly, you can apply this technique to understand Physics concepts very well!
Step-by-step: Applying the Feynman Technique for A Level Physics
- Set a period of time to study a certain topic by referring to the school notes, textbook, and online resources.
- After studying, keep your resources to one side and take out a piece of fullscap / A4 paper.
- Now, on paper, explain the topic in basic terms that are easy to understand to a curious 12-year-old kid student. When explaining, try to link all the concepts together in your own words.
- Use examples and draw diagrams to support your explanations. Try your best to link every related Physics formula together.
- Remember, no peeking of your resources! No googling! Try your best to recall and explain in your own words.
- After your first draft, think of all the possible ‘Why’ and ‘How’ questions that the 12-year-old can ask you, and explain them on paper.
- After you think you are done explaining everything you can recall, identify areas that you are stuck at explaining clearly and fully. Identify areas which you still do not understand fully yet.
- Refer to your resources and textbook to review the topic. Compare your self-written notes with the original material.
- Identify all your ‘gaps’ and study the topic again.
- Repeat steps 1 to 9!
You can check out this page for some examples of applying the Feynman Technique:
The essence of the Feynman Technique is that we are using “recall practices” to allow new concepts to be learnt quickly. Recalling information is proven to be more effective than re-reading your notes and textbook again. These recall practices force you to remember the concepts and understand them well enough to be explainable!
Now you have understood the concepts and Physics formulas better…
How do you master A Level Physics?
Step 2: Practice, practice, and lots of practice
It can’t be said enough! To achieve mastery in A Level Physics (any subject or any skill actually), we need to constantly test ourselves by doing questions.
Doing practices will help you improve mental retrieval of the information and concepts. It will help make newly-learnt Physics concepts and formulas more accessible when you need the information.
What about doing A Level Physics past papers? Do they help?
Of course! Physics past year papers are your best friends. Doing past year papers will test you in your understanding of the concepts and allow you to find out which topics you need more revision and practice in. We advise working through topical questions instead of full papers after you have achieved step 1. By focusing on one topic at a time, you will find out which topics you need more attention in and thus spend more time drilling through them! After achieving topical mastery, you can then move onto conquer the 2018 Physics Prelim papers!
When revising A Level Physics and doing practice questions, we suggest sticking to the Pomodoro Technique to maximise your learning!
You might be wondering: what’s the Pomodoro Technique?
It’s basically a time-management method to break down your revision and practice into intervals. Our brains can’t work optimally for long period of time, we need to rest too!
Suggested work-rest interval:
- Study/Practise for 25 minutes
- Take a short break for 5 minutes
One session is 30 minutes, repeat this cycle for multiple sessions.
Step 3: Doing well for qualitative questions in A Level Physics
Other than understanding Physics concepts and knowing how to apply each formula, many students could not score well in qualitative questions.
What are qualitative questions?
They are structured questions in A Level H1 / H2 Physics with these common commands:
Understanding the concepts in our own words and knowing how to do calculation questions with formulas alone will not get us our A.
We need to know how to tackle these qualitative questions with the right keywords and accurate phrases!
Fortunately, we have a separate post that addresses these qualitative questions!