Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Hello everyone! Welcome back to another blog! This week I want to talk about questions and practice exams!
What is the best approach to revising Physics?
Coming to the start of term 4, after preparing my cheat sheet for physics, there was one main question that was on my mind. What is the best way to address areas of weakness that I have identified through creating my cheat sheet? Whilst this took me some time to figure out, the process of identifying the best way to revise was very beneficial, not only in my exam preparation but for my future studies. To this day, I incorporate methods that I developed in year 12 into my studies and I have found learning how to study to be one of the most valuable skills I took from year 12.
There are two major avenues of revision once your cheat sheet is complete: completing practice questions and completing practice exams. Both aspects are similar in the sense that you are applying your knowledge; however, I think there are benefits and detriments to each which must be considered. Through my own experiences, I have found that completing practice questions, especially for physics, before attempting practice exams is the most efficient way to go about things. This is simply due to the concept of targeted revision. Whilst completing practice exams is great to test yourself on all of the concepts you have covered, it can be a bit too broad to start. Through creating your cheat sheet, I imagine you realised that you are stronger at certain topics and weaker at others. With physics being a disjointed subject (not all of the topics link together), I think targeting your weaker areas first is crucial and the best way to do this is to complete questions that address those particular topics. This will allow you to ensure that you are confident with all topics and that your subject knowledge is now broad enough to start doing practice exams. But, how should you complete practice questions?
At this stage of the year, I timed all of the questions I did. If I picked out a 5-mark question for motion, I would give myself 5-7 minutes to complete the question. The reason that I did this was so that I will still mimicking exam conditions, despite not doing practice exams themselves. Was I stressed if I didn’t finish within the 5-7 minutes? Absolutely not! Timing yourself is just to give yourself an indication of how you are going. If you are not completing the questions in the time limit, that is completely okay, because you will be aware that you need to work a bit faster. Over the course of completing many questions, this will eventually lead to you becoming more effective at working within a specific time frame (as is the case with the exam).
After completing practice questions or getting to the stage of being comfortable with all of the topics in the course, I would encourage you to move onto some practice exams. With the changes in study design, physics practice exams (at least VCAA exams) may have some questions which are not relevant. I would recommend keeping a printed copy of the study design next to you when going through practice exams to make sure that the questions you are doing are still applicable. Like with the questions, I recommend that you time your exams as firstly, there is no harm in doing so and secondly, you will get through exams a lot quicker… a win-win situation! Keep track of all of the exams you do and make sure that when you correct your practice exams you take the time to go through them properly. Ensure that you go over any questions that you got wrong and go back and revise over the relevant content. More of this to come in the coming weeks!
Overall, moving onto practice questions and practice exams is the next step in your physics revision! Ensure that you target these two in the most logical way to make sure you get the most out of your revision!
What aspects of the physics exam should I be thinking about?
Whilst the exam is still about a few weeks or so away, most of your focus will shift to the exam period very shortly with the completion of your final SACs and assessments at school. As such, I think that it is a perfect time to talk about the importance of recognising aspects of the physics exam and keeping them in mind while completing your revision.
First and foremost, the physics exam contains both multiple choice and short answer questions. Whilst this may seem obvious, I found that I took this statement too lightly throughout the initial stages of my revision. Typically, in textbooks and other sources, short answer questions are abundant and hopefully come exam time you have had the chance to go through many questions. This is great; however, there is great value in completing multiple choice questions in your revision due to the simple fact that these questions will be on the exam. You are very likely to approach multiple choice questions very differently to short answer questions, thus despite short answer questions helping you cover the content, not completing multiple choice questions is detrimental. This is particularly evident in the sense of time management. In physics, multiple choice questions still require a bit of working and thus time management is essential when it comes to this section of your exam. Furthermore, utilising skills such as “the process of elimination” is vital for multiple choice questions and such skills are only developed by attempting these types of questions. As such, I would recommend that you incorporate multiple choice questions when you are attempting practice questions for physics. Make sure that when completing practice exams, you revise over any mistakes that you have made in the multiple-choice section thoroughly as these questions are based on important content as well.
Moreover, I stated last week that timing yourself while doing questions is a great way to simulate exam conditions and become aware of how you are tracking in terms of completing all of the exam questions in time. This week I want to add to this idea by saying it is a good time to experiment with some different exam techniques. Whilst completing question sets or practice exams, it is great to trial different means of completing the questions at hand. For example, in one practice exam you might try starting with the short answer section as supposed to the multiple choice section. I used to always just go from the front page to the back page of any exam. Whilst this didn’t trouble me too much, I found that for me, completing questions that I found easy was a great way for me to start exams, as it got me into a good groove. Each and every one of you are different, thus your exam technique will differ too. Whether you realise it or not, there is probably a method that works best for you and the only way to find this method is to experiment and see what works best. Therefore, I encourage to move out of your comfort zone this week and try something a little bit different when it comes to completing a practice exam!
Lastly, be aware of the time the exam will be held. Trying to complete exams at around the same time in the day is a great habit to get into in your revision. Whilst you may be at school for the next week or two, once this period finishes you can start completing physics exams in the time slot of the actual exam. Doing this will help your body tune into physics and will hopefully aid in correcting some of your sleeping habits which may have gone out the window during online learning! This is a minor aspect of your revision but is something I found really useful! Hopefully it helps you too!
What mindset should I have for Physics this week?
A growth mindset is one that will be ideal for this week! In attempting to reach out of your comfort zone and experiment with some different techniques and methods, this week is a great week to adopt a growth mindset! Seek to actively improve and I guarantee that the results will come!
Weekly Tips and Tricks
That is all from me for another week! I hope that you are able to incorporate some aspects of the actual exam into your revision. Here are three parting tips and tricks to help you get through the week:
1. Mix up your revision
Utilising different sources of questions helps break repetition in questions!
2. Study with your friends
Try and organise a group call with some physics friends to get through some of the content! Maybe all of you can do a practice exam at the same time!
3. Have plenty of breaks (same as last week)!
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
Have a question?
In the final weeks before exams Ashane will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Ashane might answer it live!