How To Improve

Physics Skills UUUSSS - How To Improve

U nderstanding

If you are struggling with your understanding, work through the following:
Ask for clarification in your lesson, arrange to meet you teacher at lunch or break, email your teacher.
Read the relevant section in your notes, your textbook or on Kerboodle.
Post a question on the Physics Guru.
Test your understanding with exercises online or in the textbook.

U sing formulae

This is a skill that needs to be practised. Be honest with yourself about your abilities. If you need to work on some of the key skills in this area your teacher will be able to give you some generic examples to help you improve.
NOTE: You must always spend a good deal of time learning the symbols used for physical quantities! If you don't do this, then you will always struggle with calculations.

U nits

Initially units simply must be learnt. However, as we improve our algebra, they can be a very valuable tool to aid our understanding. Problems with units will either be caused by not spending enough time learning them or through poor algebra. If you feel you have spent enough time studying units and learning them but you are still stuck, arrange to meet your teacher.

S cientific vocabulary

It is very difficult to express your understanding without sufficiently technical vocabulary. Many of the words and phrases we use will be new to you and you need to learn them. It is easiest if you keep up to date with new terms, as trying to revise an entire topic, full of technical vocabulary, will be very difficult. For some people learning new vocabulary comes very easily for others it can be hard work. If you need to improve here, you must review your notes and textbook more regularly.

How S cience Works

A good deal of technical vocabulary here but also a vast web of inter-related concepts. This can be very tricky. If you feel confused......... you are very likely not the only one. Ask for help from your teacher and post a question on the guru. Review some past paper ISAs online and study the mark scheme. Try not to leave this until the week before your ISA either!

Graph S

KS3 and KS4

Your axes must be labelled with the correct quantity and unit.

Your axes must be scaled appropriately. If the scale could be doubled on the paper then your scale is incorrect. Do not use awkward scales. A multiple of 10 ought to be easy to plot. A poor scale for example would be 60 seconds for one large square.

You do not have to start your scale at (0,0) and no wobbly lines!

Plot your points accurately. At least within +/- 1mm.

Your best fit line or curve must:

  • Go through as many points as possible.
  • Have an equal number of points on either side of the line.
  • Be a straight line or smooth curve.
  • Ignore obviously anomalous points.

Your best fit should never be rotated to fit through the origin.

Your graph should be drawn with a sharpened pencil and not be a ‘feathery sketch’.


In addition:

You must deduce the most appropriate graph to plot such that the gradient and the y-intercept are of significance. 
You should also be capable of measuring the gradient of a curved line with the use of a plane mirror.