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Knowing the Difference between Pure and Combined Physics

Physics is one of the 3 Science subjects offered to Upper Secondary students, and students can choose either Pure or Combined Physics to take, alongside Biology and/or Chemistry. Physics is a cumulative subject – you got to know your formulas well before being able to apply them to solve the questions. Some might find it difficult to memorise the formulas while others have no clue on how to apply them into the various question scenarios. Before we begin to discuss on the 5 magic tips that our experienced Secondary Physics tutors have recommended, one would have to know what the difference between Pure and Combined Physics are, and what each subject entails. The difference in syllabus is as such – the syllabus for Combined Physics is 20-25% lesser in content compared to Pure Physics. Content and topics such as Temperature and Electromagnetic Induction are included in the Pure Physics syllabus, but not in the Combined Physics syllabus. Another difference between Pure and Combined Physics is the way that the questions are asked. The questions asked in Pure Physics are not as direct as compared to those asked in Combined Physics. Due to the differences in the syllabus, students who take Pure Physics must thus devote more time to studying the subject as compared to Combined Physics students. For more information on the Physics syllabus, you may visit this link.

1. Knowing Your Exam Structure For Your O/N Levels Physics Paper!

The O/N Levels Physics paper consists of 3 sections: Paper 1 – Multiple Choice Questions, Paper 2 – Structured and Free Response Questions, and Paper 3 – Practical Test.

Paper 1 – Multiple Choice Questions

Paper 1 consists of 40 compulsory multiple-choice questions totaling up to 40 marks. Students are only given 1 hour to complete this paper. Students should allocate each question about 1 minute, thus leaving them with 15-20 minutes to look through their workings and check back on their answers. This is very important as there isn’t a lot of time to be spent on each question, so by checking back, students have to eliminate all chances of making careless mistakes. The key to acing this paper is not to panic. We understand that there is not a lot of time for this paper. However, panicking will only make things worse. For example, keying in the wrong figures into your calculator because you are rushing only causes more time to be wasted later. Students do not want to end up spending their valuable time on what repeating on is non-essential and eventually causing them to underperform.

Paper 2 – Structured and Free Response Questions

Paper 2 consists of 2 sections – Section A and Section B. For Pure Physics, this component totals to 80 marks and students are given only 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete this paper. For Section A, it consists of a variable number of compulsory structured questions that total to 50 marks. Meanwhile for Section B, it consists of 3 questions that total to 30 marks. For Combined Physics, this component totals to 65 marks and students are given only 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete this paper. For Section A, it consists of a variable number of compulsory structured questions that totals to 45 marks while for Section B, students are provided 3 questions. Students are to complete any 2 of the 3 questions provided. Section B totals to 20 marks, each question worth 10 marks. The key to acing Paper 2 is to break down the questions. Students should take time to read the question carefully and identify the correct concepts tested. Once identified, students should look at the specific details given and look for the key numbers that will help to answer the question. Many students require help with this paper as there are many different forms that application questions and come in and some can be especially tricky and misleading. Secondary Physics tutors are very experienced with the way these questions are asked in the O/N Levels examinations and are able to guide students on how to breakdown the questions to find the correct answer.

Paper 3 – Practical Test

For Pure Physics, Paper 3 totals to 40 marks and has to be completed in 1 hour and 50 minutes. It contains 2 sections as well. Section A consists of 1-2 compulsory practical experiment questions totaling up to 20 marks that have to be completed in 55 minutes. Meanwhile, Section B consists of one compulsory 55 minutes practical experiment question worth 20 marks. For Combined Physics, Paper 3 totals to 30 marks and has to be completed in 1 hour and 30 minutes. It contains 2 sections – Section A and B. Section A contains several compulsory structured questions of variable mark values totaling up to 45 marks. Section B contains 3 questions, each worth 10 marks. Students are required to complete 2 out of the 3 questions.

Students Learning Physics Through Experiments

Students Learning About Electricity Through Physics Experiments

With so many different papers and sections, so how do students master every section? The main point of having an examination is to test students of their knowledge and ability to apply what they have learnt in the different types of questions. As many students have much difficulty mastering and understanding every section. So knowing your syllabus well and understanding the format of how you will be tested is essential in acing your O/N Level Physics Examination.

2. Mastering Formulas Needed For Your O/N Levels Physics

As Physics involves numbers and formulas, the subject is very similar to Maths. The examination would be testing students’ abilities to apply the various formulas into the given scenarios to find the solution of each problem. For both O/N Level Physics and Mathematics papers, formula sheets are provided as a guide. However, knowing these formulas alone will not get you far in solving most of the exam questions. The ones provided are the fundamental root formulas which are very basic, and are just there for you in case they are forgotten. More often than not, even with the formula list provided, students are unable to identify which concepts the questions are testing them on in the first place. Next, after identifying the correct concepts and formula to be used, students are usually required to know how to manipulate these formulas in order to fit the question. The key to excelling in your O/N Levels Physics examination is 2 words: Memorising and Application. You should memorise these formulas as a basic prerequisite to avoid wasting time referring back to the list, and instead focus on practising on your formula application skills. An exam tip is that whenever students apply the correct formula into the question, a mark is given. This is a freebie mark given, just by applying the correct formula. Therefore, it is crucial that students first understand every variable in each formula and each one represents, what are they used for and how to manipulate them, and eventually relate these back to the question.

3. Make Your Own O/N Levels Physics Notes!

Another method to process your Physics knowledge is by creating your own notes! You should always remember that the most important lifeline is your textbook and you need to understand it well in order to progress. After this, writing down notes and a chapter summary provides an active way of reinforcing your knowledge. Every chapter entails many concepts, ranging from definitions to formulas and methods of application. Do not just copy the textbook, but rewrite them in your own words and in bullet points. Only in notes-taking will you consciously realise on what exactly you understand vs what you do not. It would also allow you to actually process the information, which then goes a long way in helping you remember the content. Notes-taking should be done even in school, as Physics teachers tend to drop valuable tips and hints regarding what to expect in a Physics exam. Students will be able to refer back to their notes later efficiently, and would be able to focus on the more important concepts that require more time. 

There are a handful of questions in the Physics examination that would ask for the definitions of the key words on each chapter. These are often easy 1-2 mark questions that students cannot afford to lose. Students can also compile all the various definitions in a separate notebook, so that it would be easier to refer to and memorise. Highlight the crucial keywords that must be seen each definition statement, and make sure that those are not missed out.

Making Of Your Own Notes

Make sure to create chapter summaries, with important Formulas and Definitions included

4. Mastery Of Answering Techniques

There are different types of materials that students should look through and attempt before going for their O/N Levels Examination. Just like Maths, the more questions that you practise, the more prepared you will be. Out of all papers that you should strive to complete, the most essential set of papers you would have to do is the Ten-Year Series. The O Level Physics papers has a standard format, so by doing the past-year papers, you would be fully prepared in knowing what to expect for the final O Level Physics exam. Students should also do their revision topic-by-topic before attempting past year papers to ensure that you have understood each topic of their syllabus to a certain extent and are able to attempt all the questions in the past year papers with the proper knowledge. After topical assessments, you can proceed to do past-year papers of other schools to expose yourself to all types of question formats. Finally you can proceed attempt the Ten-Year Series under simulated exam conditions, to ensure that you can complete the paper under the pressure of time constraints.

5. Seek For Additional Help From Secondary Physics Tutors

There are several reasons why students do not ask questions in school. They are either shy, succumb to peer pressure in fear of looking silly, or just find difficulties in forming their questions in the first place. For more information, you may read this article. Now, what should you do if you are falling back in class or really just don’t understand? Do not suffer in silence, seek for additional help with private Physics tuition. A 1-1 Secondary Physics home tutor can dedicate all his/her attention to helping you with your weak areas and answer all the doubts you may have. There are many experienced Secondary Physics tutors who are aware of common misconceptions that students have and will be able to help you excel in your Physics O/N Level examination eventually. For more information on why you should hire a Secondary Physics tutor, you may have a look at this article here!

Student Raising Her Hand To Ask Questions

Clear your Physics doubts and misconceptions early, do not be afraid to ask questions!

In Conclusion,

The O/N Levels is a very important milestone for all Secondary students – your results affect your future career pathway. But do you know why it is very important to ace your Physics O/N Levels examination? Certain Polytechnic and University courses require Physics as a pre-requisite subject. Without taking this subject or failing in this subject, their application to these certain courses will be denied. This then limits the student’s choices pf prospective courses and closes up career pathways in the Science-related fields, such as Electrical Engineering or Aeronautical Engineering.

For example, Singapore Polytechnic offers a Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering. The entry requirements are that students have to obtain 26 points or better for the net ELR2B2 aggregate score counting English, Mathematics, one of the respective Science subjects and best 2 other subjects. For students looking to go via the Junior College route, students have to prove that they are able to do well in their O Level Physics to be able to take the JC Physics for their A-Levels as well. After which, students will be able to use their A Level Physics grades to enroll into a University Science-related course of their choice. Another example would be that the National University of Singapore offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, for which students are required to have a background in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. For more information on what subjects are required for your preferred course, you may visit the NUS website where they elaborate on what are the requirements of the courses available.

So before it is too late, look for your Secondary Physics tutor now! We have also compiled a whole list of Physics tuition options for you to consider. Contact us here with your requirements for Physics tuition and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

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