The Student Room Group

A Level Physics: past questions, flashcards, notes, for top marks?

Sitting the OCR Physics A A Level in June
(responses pertaining to different exam boards are welcome).

I've formulated a study plan which consists of written notes for each module (guided by one of the OCR-endorsed textbooks, and other resources), flashcards (using Anki), followed by (most importantly) past paper questions.

Since physics differs from other subjects at this level (such as maths), in that it is necessary to learn and grasp the theory before mastering exam technique, I figured working on the notes and flashcards beforehand would be helpful, particularly as it's generally advised to write down different concepts in one's own words to facilitate linking them together more clearly and succinctly (also, it benefits recall).

However, some have said mind maps/notes are quite useless for physics and don't actually offer an advantage relative to simply reading the textbook and memorising the content. I've also heard it can be challenging to pare down the information in the books, as scientific text actually tends to be quite concise and is, in some cases, almost impossible to condense further. (I would like to know how those who wrote notes of their own overcame this.)

Moreover, although flashcards are mostly very popular for A Level sciences, a couple of people have argued that physics is more centred on application and therefore flashcards for rote-learning information are a waste of time. I personally don't think I agree, but would be interested in hearing other opinions.

Nonetheless if that were true, then we'd be left with only textbooks and past papers as our only meaningful resources for revision. I don't see how that would be very effective with the knowledge gaps that usually arise without clear and consistent repetition of key facts and concepts (prerequisites for the papers), but I suppose I could be missing something.

I'm also bearing in mind that, as it stands, there are over 100 topic papers on PMT (101 for OCR A, as per my last count), and considering each of them takes around 45 minutes to complete, it looks like it'll be very strenuous for me to work through all of them, even just once, before the summer (not to mention the full papers and specimens for the new spec). Yet I hear of other students having sat every paper more than 3 times? I've only done a couple up to this point... unless most have been doing these quite diligently since Y12, which I find difficult to believe (especially since there would still have been a large amount of content left to cover).

For those with (or on track for) A*s in this subject, how was it logistically possible for you to write complete notes for all of the content, with flashcards to memorise everything, not to mention attempting (and reatttempting) every past paper available, marking and correcting your mistakes?

I wager some of you got through textbook questions as well, not to mention balancing everything alongside your other subjects, and keeping up with classwork and homework (at least I'm a private candidate). Either there are some serious inefficiencies to my strategy, or I'm starting far too late (I do hope this isn't the case).

I've had the notion to just go through all of the mark schemes for the past paper questions and focus on building flashcards for the less numerical content, whilst tacking the worked questions as normal. However, I don't feel this would save me very much time, to be honest. Any advice?
I used seneca a lot for active recall and to consolidate topics
Reply 2
Original post by wizkid44
I used seneca a lot for active recall and to consolidate topics

Hi, thanks for the response. I also utilised Seneca throughout sixth-form (Y14) and found that it definitely has its uses; it can be effective for last-minute revision, e.g. the day before an assessment. It helped with thermal physics and circular motion in particular.

But on its own, I don't believe it is at all sufficient. I presume you also availed yourself of other resources over the course of your revision?

Also, for me, long-term retention has been more effective where I have made use of self-designed resources, instead of relying heavily on online study tools.
Reply 3
Original post by Anonymous
Hi, thanks for the response. I also utilised Seneca throughout sixth-form (Y14)

I meant "I'm in Y14", just to clarify.
Reply 4
Bump
Original post by Anonymous
Hi, thanks for the response. I also utilised Seneca throughout sixth-form (Y14) and found that it definitely has its uses; it can be effective for last-minute revision, e.g. the day before an assessment. It helped with thermal physics and circular motion in particular.

But on its own, I don't believe it is at all sufficient. I presume you also availed yourself of other resources over the course of your revision?

Also, for me, long-term retention has been more effective where I have made use of self-designed resources, instead of relying heavily on online study tools.


Yeah, for me my main method of revision was using past papers on PMT which you’ve already mentioned you don’t think you’ll be able to work through all of them.

I didn’t bother spending time making notes myself but the PMT detailed notes and their flash cards was what I used if I ever needed notes, along with the CGP revision guide
Reply 6
Original post by wizkid44
Yeah, for me my main method of revision was using past papers on PMT which you’ve already mentioned you don’t think you’ll be able to work through all of them.

Hi, sorry for the late reply. How did you tackle completing all the past papers on time? Did you do each of them once, or a smaller amount multiple times?
Reply 7
Original post by Anonymous
Hi, sorry for the late reply. How did you tackle completing all the past papers on time? Did you do each of them once, or a smaller amount multiple times?

By "past papers", I mean the "questions by topic". Presumably you did OCR.
Bump
Original post by WeAreSuchStuff
Bump

Bump.
Original post by Anonymous
Sitting the OCR Physics A A Level in June
(responses pertaining to different exam boards are welcome).

I've formulated a study plan which consists of written notes for each module (guided by one of the OCR-endorsed textbooks, and other resources), flashcards (using Anki), followed by (most importantly) past paper questions.

Since physics differs from other subjects at this level (such as maths), in that it is necessary to learn and grasp the theory before mastering exam technique, I figured working on the notes and flashcards beforehand would be helpful, particularly as it's generally advised to write down different concepts in one's own words to facilitate linking them together more clearly and succinctly (also, it benefits recall).

However, some have said mind maps/notes are quite useless for physics and don't actually offer an advantage relative to simply reading the textbook and memorising the content. I've also heard it can be challenging to pare down the information in the books, as scientific text actually tends to be quite concise and is, in some cases, almost impossible to condense further. (I would like to know how those who wrote notes of their own overcame this.)

Moreover, although flashcards are mostly very popular for A Level sciences, a couple of people have argued that physics is more centred on application and therefore flashcards for rote-learning information are a waste of time. I personally don't think I agree, but would be interested in hearing other opinions.

Nonetheless if that were true, then we'd be left with only textbooks and past papers as our only meaningful resources for revision. I don't see how that would be very effective with the knowledge gaps that usually arise without clear and consistent repetition of key facts and concepts (prerequisites for the papers), but I suppose I could be missing something.

I'm also bearing in mind that, as it stands, there are over 100 topic papers on PMT (101 for OCR A, as per my last count), and considering each of them takes around 45 minutes to complete, it looks like it'll be very strenuous for me to work through all of them, even just once, before the summer (not to mention the full papers and specimens for the new spec). Yet I hear of other students having sat every paper more than 3 times? I've only done a couple up to this point... unless most have been doing these quite diligently since Y12, which I find difficult to believe (especially since there would still have been a large amount of content left to cover).

For those with (or on track for) A*s in this subject, how was it logistically possible for you to write complete notes for all of the content, with flashcards to memorise everything, not to mention attempting (and reatttempting) every past paper available, marking and correcting your mistakes?

I wager some of you got through textbook questions as well, not to mention balancing everything alongside your other subjects, and keeping up with classwork and homework (at least I'm a private candidate). Either there are some serious inefficiencies to my strategy, or I'm starting far too late (I do hope this isn't the case).

I've had the notion to just go through all of the mark schemes for the past paper questions and focus on building flashcards for the less numerical content, whilst tacking the worked questions as normal. However, I don't feel this would save me very much time, to be honest. Any advice?

hard work is needed for top grades, there are 24 hours in a day- plenty of time

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