Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Hello everyone! My name is Ashane and I’ll be guiding you through some tips for preparing for your final VCE Physics exams! I thought I would give a quick introduction so that you get to know a little bit about me. I am currently a third-year university student studying Biomedical Science and Engineering. I have been teaching Physics (amongst other subjects) ever since I graduated from school all the way back in 2017! I am really excited to write these blog posts for you all and I hope you enjoy reading them every week. It has certainly been crazy times of late and I do not envy your position at all! This has probably been one of the toughest years for VCE students and you should give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far! I will try my best to pass on as much wisdom and knowledge as I can and hopefully you can learn a tip or trick here and there that will ultimately help you smash your remaining SACs and the final exam! Now, let’s dive into some Physics!!!
What are we up to this week?
This coming week is one that may feel neither here nor there. Despite everyone being at different stages of Unit 4 Physics, you are at the stage in time where everything is getting slightly more exam oriented. In terms of Physics content, as you are probably already aware , Unit 4 only contains a few major topics, a lot less than Unit 3 at least. This is not to say that there is not a lot of content to learn, but I remember that around this time was when I first started to think about the final exam and getting started with revision. As such, I think this week is a great week to get yourself organised for Physics. Now, I am sure a lot of you are already very organised in terms of your work; however, I encourage you to look forward to what’s to come and prepare yourself both mentally and physically. For Physics, this may involve noting down what SACs you have left and when they are likely to be held as well as noting down any gaps in your knowledge so far (i.e. a topic you have not yet covered/ skipped during the year). I think these types of preparatory steps will set you up for your upcoming revision; it can be very overwhelming to dive straight into revision, so simply being aware of what’s to come and what you still have to cover makes the process a lot more easier. Physics tends to come to an abrupt end, so I think now is a great time to plan and prepare!
How can I make sure I understand waves?
As I mentioned before, Unit 4 Physics is essentially based on three major topics: waves, light and wave-particle duality. As such, the content in these topics tends to be quite dense, and from my own experience getting through the topics took me a lot longer than expected!
This week is a great week to focus on waves (specifically the properties of mechanical waves). The best way to tackle the topic at this point is time, in my opinion at least, is to pull out your study design and break the topic down! Whilst your SACs will be at the discretion of your teachers, the final exam will only contain material listed on the study design (and most schools will use this as the basis of their SACs as well). As such, I encourage you to have a look at the dot points for this particular outcome and first ask yourself, “Would I be able to provide answers for these points?”. This simple step will go a long way in identifying what you know and don’t know.
After going through the study design, I think different aspects of the chapter have to be approached slightly differently. When I went through the chapter myself, I found that the sections on wave properties was easy to understand whilst superposition and standing waves were quite the opposite. As such, I found that I could target questions directly for my revision of wave properties, whilst I had to go over the content for the later sections. A really good way of understanding superposition and standing waves is to jump on YouTube and watch a quick video. I found that the hardest part of understanding these topics was visualising what was happening with the waves, thus watching animations with explanations is a great way to understand the concepts behind the two topics! I suggest that you try and keep your notes as simplistic as possible, as making simple notes is a lot harder than jotting everything down! In other words, writing condensed notes will force you to really understand the content!
After you have understood the concepts of the latter topics, I encourage you to move onto questions as this is the most effective form of revision. I did textbook questions first, as I found they helped me nail down the basics, but I also mixed in some exam questions as well and I suggest you do the same. Don’t be worried if exam questions take you some time and you find them hard and make mistakes! Exposing yourself to these questions will really help your revision in the future, and making mistakes is the best way to learn!
What mindset should I have for Physics this week?
Every week I will be giving you a mindset that worked best for me when I was studying Physics. Again, you may not feel that certain mindsets apply to you, but hopefully at least one or two can resonate with you throughout the remaining weeks and help you in your preparation for the final exam!
For this week, I think the best mindset to have is one of confidence. Planning for the weeks to come should give you confidence that you are ahead of the game in terms of your preparation and that you know with certainty what is to come. Moreover, by going through the study design, you should feel confident in your coverage of the topic of waves. Despite being a complex topic, focusing your attention on what actually matters, should give you confidence that you are aware of everything to do with the topic. I know it is early days in terms of your revision, but there is nothing better than being quietly confident from the get-go!
Weekly Tips and Tricks
That is all from me this week! I hope you all have a really productive and effective week and get excited about what is to come in the future! Here are three parting tips and tricks to help you get through the week:
1. Start a countdown timer to the date of your Physics exam! This is not to scare you but rather excite you with how close you are to completing your final exam!
2. Be happy to make mistakes! It is awesome to make mistakes, because that is the most effective way to learn.
3. Have plenty of breaks! With everything that is going on, it is very important to ensure that your health and wellbeing is flourishing! Make sure to take plenty of breaks and have some fun in between attending classes and studying.