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7 Awesome Tips To Ace O-level Physics

Are you a student who is doing badly in your physics?

Are you a parent that wants your child to do their best?

Do you want to be like this student who scored A1 in all her O-level subjects?

Well, if your answer is yes to any of these questions then this article is worth a read.

This article will provide you with many helpful tips and strategies that you can start putting in place and using it now so you can have a better chance of achieving your dream goal of an A.

Physics can be hard for some people and we understand that which is why this article is targeted at students that are struggling in the subject of Physics.

Here are 7 strategies which top physics tutors have adopted when they were studying for O levels:


1. Know the Exam Format:

The GCE ‘O’ Level Physics Examination tests students’ abilities on applying physics concepts to problems which also require deep knowledge of physics concepts and theorems. The format differs for pure and combined physics.

For pure physics, there are 3 papers:

Paper 1 - MCQ, 30% of total score
This consist of 40 compulsory multiple choice questions.

Paper 2 - Free Response Questions, 50% of total score
Section A with 50 marks, Section B with 30 marks
There are 2 compulsory questions and 1 data-based question. 

Paper 3 - SPA (Practical), 20% of total score
This is done during school time and students are tested on their observation, analysing and planning skills.

Physics Tuition

For combined physics, there are a different combination of papers. For example, a student taking combined Physics with Chemistry will be taking Paper 1, 3, 4 and 5.

Paper 1 - MCQ, 20% of total score
This consist of 40 compulsory multiple choice questions.

Paper 2 (Physics)- Free Response Questions, 32.5% of total score
Paper 3 (Chemistry)- Free Response Questions, 32.5% of total score

Paper 4 (Biology)- Free Response Questions, 32.5% of total score
2 sections, Section A consist of compulsory questions and Section B you have to choose 2 out of 3 questions.

Paper 5 - SPA (Practical), 15% of total score
This consist of 1 or 2 compulsory questions on each of the 2 sciences.


2. Master Key Topics:

+ Units and Measurements used in Physical Quantities
+ Kinematics, Dynamics, Mass, Weight and Density, Turning Effect of Forces,
+ Pressure, Energy, Work and Power
+ Kinetic Model of Matter, Transfer of Thermal Energy,
+ Temperature, Thermal Properties of Matter
+ General Wave Properties, Light
+ Electromagnetic Spectrum, Sound
+ Static Electricity, Current of Electricity, D.C. Circuits, Practical Electricity
+ Magnetism, Electromagnetism, Electromagnetic Induction

For full list of the topics being tested, you can check SEAB's website on their GCE ‘O’ Level syllabus.


3. Drill and Drill with exampapers

Past papers are another way that can help you improve your grades. When you study using past papers, you get to look and gain more exposure to what you will expect in the test.

Knowing what are the expected questions is crucial to planning your time properly during the test. For example, if you practice using past papers, you would be more familiar with what kind of questions would come out.

The same questions would not come out but the way they were phrased might be similar.

You would be better prepared if those questions came out as the answers would be similar. Every year, the syllabus will roughly stay the same so even though there may be some questions that would not be tested, a big portion of them will still be tested.

Use this to your advantage. If you started practicing these papers, for example, a year before the exam, your teacher might not have gone through some of the topics but this does not mean you cannot do the practice paper. Do the questions that have already been taught and you can finish the rest when you know how to do them.

Past papers give you an amazing insight into the test and allow you to see how you would do if you were the one taking the test that year. This gives you a good gauge of where you are and helps you in setting achievable targets for the next test that you do.



4. Getting organized

This is one of the best ways that can help you be more focused and ultimately, do better in your exams. Being organized has many advantages and being unorganized has some grave disadvantages too. Disorganization eats away all the precious limited time that you have and all the mental resources too.

Disorganization might be the reason why you sometimes can’t find your homework, or your notes easily. When you waste your time trying to locate and track down where everything is, you waste your energy too.

Taking steps to organize your notes, homework and your life is worth your time.

Think about it, would you rather spend 30 combined minutes trying to find your materials or spend 5 minutes to plan your day. Disorganization does not only mean not being able to find your belongings but can also mean not being able to focus and have a plan.

When your timings are disorganized, you might spend more time on a certain topic and realize that you wouldn’t have enough time allocated to do something else.

Investing in a diary or a study calendar is the way to go. Even if you don’t want to buy any of these, the calendar on your phone will suffice.

When planning your day, take into consideration what tasks are more important than others and what events will come up.

Jotting down events is key because you wouldn’t want to end up planning what to do for the day only finding out that your aunt is visiting you from China and you are forced to talk with her.


5. Time management

Time management is very important when studying and revising your work but this point is not about that. This point is about time management in the test.

A common pitfall that many students will fall in is time.

Not having enough time in a test or not being able to finish the questions fast enough is that pitfall.

There are a few reasons why you might not be able to finish the paper on time. One of them is careless mistakes. To be able to finish the paper in time, you might look at the clock or your watch and immediately feel anxious.

This is normal because you are afraid that you would not meet the deadline. In your desperate attempt to finish at least answer all the questions because you should never leave any blank, you rush through the paper. This is wrong.

The careless mistake is not reading the question properly. You must pay attention to the details and never try to rush through the paper.

Allocate your time properly so that each question will be done in a certain time frame and not a minute more.

This will at least guarantee that you will finish the paper.

Once you have finished the entire paper, go through your answers again and check those that you have some concerns about.

Highlight all the keywords and look through those keywords the second time when checking. It is known that if you don’t get the first part of the question correct, it is very likely that you might get the rest of the question wrong too. If you are facing time constraints, only check the first 2 lines of your answer.

Another reason why you might not be able to complete the paper is hard questions. Many students will stop at a hard question and waste so much of their precious time on it.

You should spend more time on the hard questions because it is more likely that you will get something wrong on them but save that for the end. If you stop at a question where you are experiencing difficulty, you might leave other easier questions further on down in the exam unanswered or done poorly.

This is also a reason why I mentioned to allocate time for each question and know when to skip it and not spend too much unnecessary time.


6. Memorization tips

Learning Physics is hard for some people mainly because of memorization.

There would be many physics formulaes and procedures and this can stress many students out. This is why knowing a few ways to memorize something effectively will benefit you greatly.

Memorizing Physics

The first would be to..

Write these concepts, formulae, and procedures down in a small notebook.

This notebook should be small enough that it wouldn’t be a big convenience if you are carrying it around wherever you go.

Whenever you are free, whether it be waiting for a bus or queueing up to buy food, take out the notebook from your pocket or bag, and start looking through.

Repeat what you wrote out loud and make sure that your ears can hear what your mouth is saying. It has been proven that people that people some people who here things will be more likely to remember them.

This also explains why you will remember a song if you listen to it many times.

The second way would be to create mindmaps or diagrams that help you to remember it more vividly. Mindmaps help to summarize a topic and creating the mindmap is a form of revision too. To create the mindmap, you have to go through the topic and your notes.

Mindmaps help you to see the topic from a different standpoint, you will be able to see it from a birds-eye view. These mindmaps will be helpful in the very last few days leading up to the exam. You wouldn’t have enough time to revise an entire topic again so it’s best to see all the topics in this way.


7. Dismantling its parts

Many questions will look intimidating at first.

This especially applies to questions that you find hard. Sometimes, it’s just the way the question is structured that makes it intimidating.

For example, the question might ask you to explain what a magnetic field is but after taking a good look at it, you will realize that the answers are generally straightforward. The takeaway for this is to never get afraid of the questions.

In one way or another, if you had studied properly and followed the tips mentioned above, you wouldn’t have a problem at all. You will encounter questions that are complicating and are complicating.

No, I did not make an error there, some questions that are complicating are plain complicating.

* These questions exist because they want to differentiate the students that deserve a B and the students that deserve an A

Dismantle the parts of these questions and tackle each part first. Marks are rewarded for each part you answer correctly so roughly finding out which parts are worth more marks helps you to know which parts require more information.

A question worth 3 marks would require all 3 points to be answered compared to a 1 mark question which would demand less.

Similarly, knowing which questions require less information will signal to you that you should not provide extra. Providing unnecessary information might also cause you to lose a mark.


There you go, 7 tips and techniques to help you to score an A1 in your Physics O-level exam. Knowing the exam format and topics, getting organized, going through and practicing by using past papers, managing your time during the exam, knowing how to memorize information effectively, and dismantling a question’s parts are all useful tips that will guide you through this journey.

If you still need a little helping hand, consider our Physics tutoring services available both online and face-to-face tuition.

[ Read Also: Ultimate Guide to Physics Tuition In Singapore (30 Places to Choose) ]

Good luck!

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About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.