How to Study Physics

How to study Physics

A Quick Guide to Studying Physics


Physics is a problem solving discipline that requires a lot of practice.  You need to understand the major principles and concepts and apply them.

Problem solving

Read the question carefully. If necessary, read it again especially for questions which are quite “chunky”.  Draw a suitable diagram, if it aids your visualisation, even though it may not be required by the exam paper.  If it is required, ensure that you have indicated the relevant quantities (and values) on the diagram.

For qualitative questions, recall the relevant principles or concepts, analyse the problem and deduce some useful ideas, followed by writing your answer in a logical and coherent manner.  For quantitative questions, recall and write down the relevant equation.  Show the substitution of data and show all steps in calculations clearly, and make sure that the answers have the right units (if any), right number of significant figures and that they make sense.

Preparing for exam (Revise what you do not know, not what you know)

Know the syllabus and the format of the assessment well.  You can gather this information by going to the SEAB website.  Plan a revision timetable and fix a suitable time and place of study.  You can begin with topical revision, by reading the notes of each topic thoroughly and jot down key points and questions you may have.  Write out definitions/formulae/laws, and sketch diagrams, concept maps, graphs.  For experiments, you can recall them in point form, when revising.

Many a times, it is helpful to re-do the exercises given by your school, especially those which you could not solve correctly the first time.  After revising, practice at least 2 past-year O level / A-level papers, preferably under exam conditions. Practice further with past school Prelim papers and some other school papers.  Try your best to work consistently and diligently, and stick to your revision timetable.

During the exam (Don’t panic. Learn to enjoy doing the papers)

As the exam approaches, know the exact date, time and venue of the papers and arrive in good time.  Read the instructions on the cover page carefully.  When the clock begins ticking, manage your time well.  The marks allocated to each question or part question is a good indicator of the time you need to spend on that question.

For MCQs, never leave any question un-attempted.  For structured questions, do write clearly and neatly in the spaces provided.  Write your answers concisely and to the point without exceeding the given space.

Final words

Have a positive attitude towards studies.  Balance your work and play well and do start your preparation early. For more guidance on learning of specific content tested in the A and O Level examinations, do join us for our Physics tuition classes : )