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SQA Higher Physics

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Motion – Average Speeds

Motion – Sine and Cosines

Motion – Components of velocity

Motion – Acceleration & Velocity

Motion – Tension, Forces and Mass

Conservation of Energy & Momentum


Special Relativity

Hubble Constant

Expanding Universe

Work in an electric field

Direction of a charged particle

The standard model

Nuclear Reactions

Photoelectric Effect

Work function of a metal



Refraction of Light

Monitoring & Measuring AC

Monitoring & Measuring AC (2)

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How To Pass

Passing an exam is always a combination of factors...

…and your pass mark is based on how well you manage to combine them all and maximise their potential.

How interested am I in the subject?

There’s absolutely no doubt about it.  If you have either (a) no interest in the subject or (b) no interest in learning then it is going to be really challenging to pass the exam.

Everyone has the ability to pass any exam.  Passing an exam is not about knowing a topic inside out, or a subject, it is about knowing what you are going to be asked in the exam and then learning those parts to answer those questions.  Do you have to understand why you are answering questions the way you are? No.  You do not.  You just have to know that this is the answer that goes with that question.

For example, let’s say there is a hole in a wall and it is in the shape of a hexagon.  You have four blocks of wood in front of you and you have been asked to pass one block through the hole.  You have a circle, a square, a hexagon and a triangle.  Instinctively you pick up the hexagon and pass it through the hole in the wall.  Did you have to know it was a hexagon to be able to do that?  No, you were just able to match the shape to the hole, and that’s what exams are.  Match the answer to the question.

You don’t have to love the subject, you don’t even have to be interested in it, you don’t even need passion for learning.  You just have to want to pass the exam.  If you don’t have that then we admit you probably won’t pass.

Our guiding principle, if you just want to pass an exam you can, if you want to master the subject you need to know why you are passing it e.g. why the answers to the questions are the answers.

How good am I at studying?

There is no way you can turn up at an examination and pass an exam without knowing the course materials.  With a careful understanding of the exam paper and the way in which it is presented you certainly don’t have to know the entire course and you can target your study to focus your learning on key areas.

Studying is an area of contention where many students I have met will tell me about their study style.  The way in which they study.  I hear things like:

“Oh i always study late at night, I just can’t study during the day.”

“I always need to have something on in the background to help me study”

“I always leave it until the end of the month and do all my study for that month during the last weekend.”

“I just don’t have time for study, I always seem to leave it until nearer the exam and it goes fine.”

Well, I literally can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for EVERY student I have been involved in and I can tell you this.

  1. You don’t need a study plan, but you do need to study regularly, in regular periods
  2. You need silence to focus your mind, thinking you can study with music or the TV on in the background is a skill very very few of us have.  Silence allows all of us to study and absorb, and does away with that old cliched chant “I just don’t seem to be able to take anything in”.  Correct, you aren’t when your brain has competition for attention.  Yes that also goes for having friends around for study sessions, although if they keep quiet they can work!
  3. Every brain is different but, again, in my experience, most of us are most productive from the moment we get up until near the end of a normal day, say 3pm.  If you study in this period you are going to absorb so much more.  Studying at 11pm hasn’t worked for anyone I have helped before, even when they told me that was the time they studied best.

The best approach to studying is:

  • Do it regularly, spaced out over the course, not all at the end
  • Don’t always feel you need to make a plan because you tend to kick yourself when you obviously can’t stick to it most of the time
  • Study during the morning or early afternoon
  • Study in peace, in comfortable surroundings

Is my revision plan going to work?

Having a revision plan is a really really good idea.  If nothing else it just let’s you know when the panic should commence!

As soon as the course starts, if you are advised of the exam date, you should start working back from the exam plugging in how much revision time you think you will need.  If there is no exam date given then assume it will be on June 1st and work back from there.

Each revision plan is personal to you but they key thing is that having a plan means that you can put those dates in your diary so that you can let parents, teachers, clubs, friends and family, well in advance of those dates, the ones you cannot make because you will need to study.  It also let’s you benchmark where your period of study needs to end and revision needs to start.  Whilst this can instil panic it is more useful to ensure you are timing everything correctly.

Revision plans should be updated as you go with notes around which parts of the course you have found easy, and should not need so much time to study, which parts were harder and therefore you may like to revise for a bit longer and which parts were simply impossible and you may mark for not wasting your time on before the exam and just take that as a known loss.  The world is split on whether that is a good idea or not but, for me, I have usually discovered I needed to ditch one section that my brain just did not get so that I could achieve more marks on the things I did know and understand.

So you see the revision plan should be put together at the start of the course to keep you on track.

How well do I know the exam paper?

We have a resource sheet on understanding the Higher Physics exam paper in more detail but it really does pay for you to also go through this process yourself to so that you know it from first principles.

You will know there are currently two papers, a multiple choice and a long form answer paper.  Both require different approaches but you should definitely be familiar with what is coming up, which topics, how mnay questions there are per topic area and what the focus areas are.

The physics course may change and involve in content but the nature of physics doesn’t change that much in any single year.  There are only so many questions you can be asked and only so many ways in which that question can be asked. So if you look back over previous papers, or even work on as many example questions as you can, you are going to become very familiar with the question topics and how they are asked.  This takes away a lot of the stress of the exam because you know what’s going to be in there – you just don’t know what the specific figures and scenarios will be but you will be well equipped to answer them.

We don’t demand that you do much but here is a time when we do:


We have done the analysis already and it will be available on our hy.page soon but we think you should also go through each paper, note what topic is being asked and then compare that frequency across all the papers.  Just reading the question alone, if you do nothing else, will help you ease into the exam on the day.

Am I ready to perform on the day?

There are the more physical aspects of the exam day.  

If you have studied well, revised correctly, identified where you are going to focus your time and have an understanding of the exam papers then the only thing left is to make sure you turn up at the right time, to the right place, on the right day.

We are amazed how many times this goes wrong.

Not only that but you need to have  a Plan B for that bus that doesn’t turn up when it was meant to, when your mum has a flat tyre on the way to the school, when the roads are closed and a diversion is in place, when you need extra time because you don’t know the building your exam is in and need to ask for directions and finally when you really really need to go, just before the exam.

Think about all of these factors and make sure you can get to the exam room for the exam.  No one is going to give you leniency if it was your own fault you didn’t make it – and what a waste all that time preparing would have been.

if things don’t work out on the day, immediately advise an invigilator or your teacher about the circumstances so that they can seek the most acceptable solution for you.

F = ma
F = ma

Newton AcceleratingSome say there is nothing more important in physics than Newton's second law -...

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