A Complete Guide to O Level Physics in Singapore by Our Top O Level Physics Tutors

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The Complete Guide to O Level Physics in Singapore

GCE O Level has become a part of every student’s life in today’s Singapore, being a hurdle that all must overcome before they move on to the next stage of their academics. To all students, O Levels is probably one of the examinations that students dread due to its high-intensity preparation and the consequences it brings if the overall results are not up to their expectations. Either way, it is an obstacle that all students can conquer as long as they put their heart out to it. Because if the generations before them can do it, why can’t they? As a Home Tuition Agency, MindFlex has encountered and dealt with both parents’ and students’ concerns and questions towards the O Levels Physics Examination. As such, we have decided to come up with a complete guide that will address all the problems as well as suggestions students should take to prepare themselves for the O Level Physics Examination.

1. An Overview to O Level Physics

Unlike Chemistry and Biology, O Level Physics involves a lot of calculations, formulas, and rich theory content. Many students in Singapore who struggle with O Level Physics feel that the concepts are incomprehensible, abstract, and hard to relate to or understand. In O Level Physics, students are tested on their ability to apply physics concepts to problems that require a deep knowledge of concepts and theorems. According to the Cambridge Assessment, O Level Physics aims to provide students with a coherent understanding of energy, matter, and interrelationships. In O Level Physics, calculations are heavily involved. Students who have no interest or are not strong in Maths are usually advised not to pick O Level Physics as their subject combinations. Students who have taken up O Level Science as their subject are encouraged to do well in their examination. After all, all subjects play a role in your overall O Level results at the end of the day. Besides, aiming to do well in the O Level Physics can also benefit students interested in pursuing a degree in Engineering, Programming, or anything that is Physics-related as they can have a strong foundation on the Physics concepts and principles.

O Level Physics itself is a challenging topic for students to master in. Usually, an additional helping hand is needed to guide students towards their road to scoring an A for the O Level Physics. Unlike the rest of the subjects, independent learning for Physics can be a bit challenging for the students with all the new concepts and formulas that require additional explanation for one to understand it completely. As such, if you find yourself interested in opting for an O Level Physics Tutor, MindFlex is the place for you to do so! Engage our Physics Tuition today!

2. Objectives of O Level Physics

The Key objectives for both Pure and Combined O Level Physics are as follows:

2.1 Knowledge with Understanding 

Students should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understand in relation to:

  1. Scientific phenomena, facts, laws, definitions, concepts, theories 
  2. Scientific vocabulary, terminology, conventions
  3. Scientific instruments and apparatus, including techniques of operation and aspects of safety 
  4. Scientific quantities and their determination 
  5. Scientific and technological applications with their social, economic and environmental implications. 

2.2 Handling Information and Solving Problems 

Students should be able to: 

  1. Locate, select, organise and present information from a variety of sources 
  2. Translate information from one form to another 
  3. Manipulate numerical and other data
  4. Use information to identify patterns, report trends and draw inferences 
  5. Present reasoned explanations for phenomena, patterns and relationships 
  6. Make predictions and hypotheses
  7. Solve problems. 

2.3 Experimental Skills and Investigations 

Students should be able to:

  1. Follow a sequence of instructions 
  2. Select and use techniques, apparatus and materials 
  3. Make and record observations, measurements and estimates 
  4. Interpret and evaluate observations and experimental results 
  5. Plan investigations, select techniques, apparatus and materials 
  6. Evaluate methods and suggest possible improvements

3. O Level Physics Exam Format

O Level Physics Infographic

Here’s an overview of the key differences between the Pure and Combined Physics exam format.

3.1. Pure O Level Physics

In Pure O Level Physics, it consists of 3 components – 1) Paper 1: Multiple Choice, 2) Paper 2: Structured and Free Response and, 3) Paper 3: Practical Test

Paper 1 (Multiple Choice)

1 Hour, 40 marks, 30% weightage 

This paper will consist of 40 COMPULSORY multiple-choice items of the direct choice type.

Paper 2 (Structured and Free Response)

1 Hour 45 mins, 80 marks, 50% weightage 

This paper will consist of 2 sections.

Section A will carry 50 marks and will consist of a variable number of compulsory structured questions. Section B will carry 30 marks and will consist of three questions. The first two questions are compulsory questions, one of which will be a data-based question requiring candidates to interpret, evaluate or solve problems using a stem of information. This question will carry 8–12 marks. The last question will be
presented in an EITHER/OR form and will carry 10 marks.

Paper 3 (Practical Test)

1 Hour 50 mins, 40 marks, 20% weightage

This paper will consist of 2 sections. Section A will carry 20 marks and will consist of 1–2 compulsory practical experiment questions with a total duration of 55 min. Section B will carry 20 marks and will consist of one compulsory 55 min practical experiment question. There might be questions that may incorporate assessment of Planning (P) and require candidates to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding from different sections of the syllabus. The assessment of PDO and ACE may include questions on data analysis which do not require practical equipment and apparatus.

3.2. Combined O Level Physics 

In the Combined O Level Physics it consists of these components – 1) Paper 1: Multiple Choice, 2) Paper 2: Structured and Free Response (Physics), 3) Paper 3: Structured and Free Response (Chemistry), 4) Paper 4: Structure and Free Response (Biology), 5) Paper 5: Practical

The following are the possible O Level Combined Chemistry combination: 

Physics Combination  Papers Taken
Science (Physics, Chemistry)

Paper 1 will be based on the Physics and Chemistry sections of the syllabus.

Paper 2 will be based on the Physics section of the syllabus.

Paper 3 will be based on the Chemistry section of the syllabus.

Paper 5 will be based on the Physics and Chemistry sections of the syllabus.


Science (Physics, Biology)

Paper 1 will be based on the Physics and Biology sections of the syllabus.

Paper 2 will be based on the Physics section of the syllabus.

Paper 4 will be based on the Biology section of the syllabus.

Paper 5 will be based on the Physics and Biology sections of the syllabus.

Paper 1 (Multiple Choice)

1 Hour, 40 marks, 20% weightage

This paper consists of 40 COMPULSORY multiple-choice questions of the direct choice type providing approximately.

Paper 2/3/4 (Structured and Free Response – Physics/Chemistry/Biology)

1 Hour 15 mins, 65 marks, 32.5% weightage

Section A will carry 45 marks and will contain a number of compulsory structured questions of variable mark value. Section B will carry 20 marks and will contain three questions, each of 10 marks. Candidates are required to answer any two questions.

Paper 5 (Practical Test)

1 Hour 30 mins, 30 marks, 15% weightage

Consists of ONE or TWO compulsory questions on each of the two Sciences.

3.3. Topics tested for O Level Physics 

Combined Physics

Pure Physics

1. Physical Quantities, Units and Measurement

2. Kinematics

3. Dynamics

4. Mass, Weight and Density

5. Turning Effect of Forces

6. Pressure

7. Energy, Work and Power

8. Kinetic Model of Matter

9. Transfer of Thermal Energy

10. Thermal Properties of Matter

11. General Wave Properties

12. Light

13. Electromagnetic Spectrum

14. Sound

15. Static Electricity

16. Current of Electricity

17. D.C. Circuits

18. Practical Electricity

19. Magnetism and Electromagnetism

1. Physical Quantities, Units and Measurement

2. Kinematics

3. Dynamics

4. Mass, Weight and Density

5. Turning Effect of Forces

6. Pressure

7. Energy, Work and Power

8. Kinetic Model of Matter

9. Transfer of Thermal Energy

10. Temperature

11. Thermal Properties of Matter

12. General Wave Properties

13. Light

14. Electromagnetic Spectrum

15. Sound

16. Static Electricity

17. Current of Electricity

18. D.C. Circuits

19. Practical Electricity

20. Magnetism

21. Electromagnetism

22. Electromagnetic Induction


3.4. Challenges Faced & How To Score Well For Each O Level Physics Papers

3.4.1. Multiple Choice 

Challenges: When doing O Level Physics Paper 1, students are usually met with time constraints as they spend too much time overthinking on questions that they are unsure of. In such situations, students tend to get stuck and waste time trying to figure out the answers. With only an hour to complete 40 questions, such actions are a no-no, especially if students have poor time management. Every minute and second is precious, as such students are advised to use the time wisely and not overspend it on one question. 

How to Score Well: To do well in the O Level Physics Paper 1, students need to have proper time management and have more MCQ practices. Constantly practice your O Level Physics Paper 1 till doing it becomes easy for you. In addition, when doing the MCQs, one thing that you take note of is to not read too deep into the questions. When students overanalyze the questions, they tend to overthink and think that it is a trick question or there is a deeper meaning to it. However, in most cases, the MCQs means exactly what it says, so do not confuse yourself and make things complicated for yourself. This would only cause unnecessary panic during the examination!

3.4.2. Structured and Free Response 

Challenges: Sometimes, the O Level Physics Paper 2 may not match the ones done in students’ daily practices, after all, the examination is used to test the student’s level of understanding and competency towards the concepts and applications. Students might be taken aback by the unfamiliar and difficult questions in the examination and such questions usually focus a lot on real-life application. 

How to Score Well: First of all, pay attention to what the teachers have shared in class. Sometimes, teachers tend to share additional information out of the notes or textbook, such as real-life examples. Jot such examples down on your notes and you’ll never know, it might be useful to refer back to for future references. Secondly, is to do the practice papers provided by your teachers seriously. Such practices provided are usually given because the teachers find that it would be useful for you. They would usually pick up practice papers that contain challenging questions so that they can better prepare you for the actual O Level Physics Examination.

3.4.3. Practical Test

Challenges: Like many other science practicals, O Level Physics Practical requires students to have a good level of understanding of the Physics concepts and apply them to their experiments. During Physics Practical, students may fail to read the instructions carefully and as a result, conduct their experiments incorrectly. In addition to that, they may also face the repercussions of carelessness, which can impact their Physics Practical performance greatly.

How to Score Well: Science Practical lessons are usually very limited in schools. Students should always make the most out of it during their lessons and take the opportunity to clarify all doubts and questions. Another alternative students can take is to watch videos on Physics experiments online. It may not be the same as the first-hand experience, but it will definitely help in providing you with additional ‘practice’ and knowledge before the actual O Level Physics Practical Examination. 

4. O Level Physics Tips and Resources

4.1. O Level Physics Tips

4.1.1. Practice consistently

No matter what subjects you take and what activities you do, as long as you have the mind to do well, then practice is the way to approach it. O Level Physics is a challenging subject for students to excel in. However, it is not impossible at all. The act of learning is challenging. As such, along the way, students will make mistakes and struggle while they try to grasp and understand the concepts of Physics. However, the only way for students to improve and do well is to practice! If students want to be experts in O Level Physics, consistent practice is all it takes to master the skills and concepts taught. Set your mind on your goal. Commit time every week to revise your notes and attempt practice questions. By practicing the O Level Physics questions regularly, you will find yourself gaining the confidence in answering the questions with ease as you familiarise yourself with the process. Along the way, you will also learn some of the common mistakes that you make in your answers and find ways to improve from them.

4.1.2. Pay attention in class

Like all students, your role is to sit in class and give the teachers your fullest attention. After all, what’s the point of going to school when you are not learning anything? During your Physics class, set aside the urge to talk to your friends. Instead, focus on what your Physics teacher is sharing during the lesson. With the lesson notes or worksheets provided by your teacher, highlight, annotate, and add any additional information that the teacher might have pointed out. All this small information shared by your teacher is beneficial, especially if they are not already stated in the notes. By paying attention in class, you will find yourself struggling less when you try to recap and understand the topics that the class had gone through previously. This will make your revision for the O Level Physics Examination much easier and more effective.

4.1.3. Understand the concept of the formula

As many of you would know, calculations and formulas are heavily involved in O Level Physics. One piece of advice that any Physics Teacher or Tutor would give is to never blindly memorise your formulas. Instead, it is best to try to understand the concept surrounding the formula, which is also known as conceptual understanding. This refers to students learning to understand the basic concepts of the formula while applying it to something real. As such, students should try to familiarise the concepts and link them with familiar scenarios, making their learning more effective and faster. In addition, it is also a good idea to create a formula sheet and review them anytime you feel like you forget it.

4.1.4. Learn from your mistakes

It is common to make mistakes, and that is how you can learn and improve! After every test or examination, whether you feel satisfied or disappointed with your results does not matter. What matters are the mistakes made in your Physics paper. Know the mistakes made and take the necessary steps to work on them to ensure that you do not commit to them again. By understanding why you got the question wrong in the first place will ensure that you do not run the risk of repeating the same mistake in the actual O Level Physics Examination.

4.1.5. Prevent any carelessness

Being careless when attempting your O Level Physics paper will cause unnecessary marks to be lost and not worth it. One common cause of carelessness is when you rush through your papers. Understand that during the O Level Physics Examination, the duration to complete the paper may not be in your favour. Despite that, it is not recommended for you to rush through and complete the Physics paper. Rushing through the paper would cause you to miss out on the crucial parts of the question and commit careless mistakes. If that happens, you are basically throwing away your marks! It is essential for you always to dedicate time for each question and train yourself to work out the answers within the time limit you have set for yourself.

4.2. O Level Physics Resources

Here, MindFlex has complied our top 6 resources that will be useful in their preparation for the O Level Physics Examination:

4.2.1. Pure Physics Ten-Year Series

Pure Physics TYS is an annual publication that compiles all past 10 years of GCE O Level examination questions. TYS has been used in many schools for more than four decades. If students struggle with the application questions, one good way to work on it is to have constant practice, and a recommended material that they should use would be the Pure Physics TYS. Attempting the TYS questions would reveal the types of questions asked over the years in the O Levels.

O Level Pure Physics Ten-Year Series

O Level Pure Physics Ten-Year Series

4.2.2. Combined Physics Ten-Year Series

Similar to the Pure Physics TYS, this material here focuses and targets particularly on students who are specialized in Combined O Level Physics. The TYS covers all the syllabus adequately well and will help equip students with competency to answer and formulate their answers well.

O Level Combined Physics Ten-Year Series

O Level Combined Physics Ten-Year Series

4.2.3. O Level Physics Topical Revision Notes

Another resource that students can make use of would be the O Level Physics Topical Revision Notes. This book is prepared following the latest syllabus and can serve as a practical guide for students in preparation for the O Level Physics. Students who require a last-minute recap or a refresher can refer to this guidebook that stores all the important concepts and physics formulas presented in very concise points, accessible for all the students to read and understand.

O Level Physics Topical Revision Notes

O Level Physics Topical Revision Notes

4.2.4. FREE O Level Physics Papers

Though the Ten-Year Series is useful and relevant material, students should not depend on it 100%. Instead, it is recommended for students to equip themselves with other materials and past-year papers to prepare themselves for any possible questions that might appear during the actual O Level Physics Examination. For example, students can find practice papers from other schools and attempt them. Fortunately, in MindFlex, we have provided you a link to a list of free O Level Physics Exam Papers for both Pure and Combined that you can download and attempt during your revision.

Download the O Level Pure Physics and Combined Physics papers here.

4.2.5. O Level Physics Tuition 

For students to do well in O Level Physics, guidance from an expert is required. In O Level Physics, countless terms or words are sometimes not clearly explained in school notes for textbooks. The lack of knowledge on these terminologies can affect the way students structure their answers. However, engaging an O Level Physics Tuition can help clear the student’s doubts and provide them with a much deeper understanding of Physics’s principles. If you find yourself struggling with the concepts of O Level Physics, it would be good to start looking for an extra helping hand to guide you through this journey!

4.2.6. MindFlex O Level Physics Home Tutor 

If you are looking at having more personalized help, MindFlex Home Tutoring is the way to go! In MindFlex, we provide students with experienced and efficient O Level Physics Tutors to provide students more attention to mastering their basics. With MindFlex Home Tutors, students will accelerate their learning manifold and prepare themselves well for the upcoming O Level Physics Examination.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, the O Level Physics Examination can be demanding for all the students. Still, students can overcome the hurdles and challenges to achieve their A1 in the exams. As long as students have the discipline to study hard, they will excel in everything they have set out for. O Level Physics can be challenging, but it can also be an interesting subject as long as they do not let the challenging aspect affect them.

In this article, we hope that the guide to O Level Physics has helped you have a better idea of what to expect for O Level Physics and the steps you can take to overcome some of the challenges you are facing now. In MindFlex, we are all about helping students in their academics and bringing the best out of them. If you need an extra helping hand, MindFlex will do the trick! Over here, we have countless O Level Physics Tutor from Part-Time Tutors to Ex/Current MOE Teachers for you to choose from.

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