CocoPop
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What's the difference between IB HL Physics vs. A Level Physics in terms of topics covered? One of my teachers was saying that A level goes into more detail, but I find that quite hard to believe considering the masses of people who get As versus the very few who get 7s. I am particularly interested in the difference in the topic of Mechanics.

Thanks
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Fiasco
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Um, more people do the A-level, therefore more people will get A's compared to those who get 7 in the IB (unless you're comparing the percentage getting the top grades). I can only comment on the mechanics at AS (OCR), topics include:
- Velocity and displacement
- Constant acceleration
- Equations of motion
- Using vectors
- Gravity and motion (Projectile)
- Force, mass, acceleration (F=ma)
- Turning effects, Moments
- Car safety
- Work, power and energy
- Kinetic and potential energy
- Deforming solids (Young modulus, stress, strain)

What do you cover in the IB?
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CocoPop
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Hey thanks for the response.

The IB course looks fairly similar. I don't have a full list anywhere. I'm not familiar with all the topics we do in IB because I haven't covered the whole course yet. I'm curious because I would like to look through any extra stuff that is covered in A level physics.

Btw, I was referring to percentages, not the actual number of people achieving top grades
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shamrock92
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(Original post by CocoPop)
What's the difference between IB HL Physics vs. A Level Physics in terms of topics covered? One of my teachers was saying that A level goes into more detail, but I find that quite hard to believe considering the masses of people who get As versus the very few who get 7s. I am particularly interested in the difference in the topic of Mechanics.

Thanks

The IB HL course is a lot better.

Firstly, it's a lot more rigorous. You won't just be learning content; you'll be becoming a Physicist. At A-level, the focus is largely on learning physical facts and regurgitating them out on the exam paper. The equations you have to solve are given, and you just plug numbers in to find answers. It's easy to get an A. IB is totally different. They examine you more thoroughly, and give you questions that really make you think - questions you can't really prepare for, that require you to use your intuition. There won't be the level of prompting there is in A-level - a long calculation at A-level is broken down into several mini-questions that lead you onto the answer, whereas at IB you're just given a big problem, and you have to work it out yourself for lots of marks. There's just no comparison in the level of difficulty - people in my class regularly flop topic tests and end up with scores of less than 20%. Getting a high 5/7 in the IB probably equates to an A at A-level. The IB is significantly tougher. Soemthing like 25% of people get As at A-level; only 7% or so do in IB.

In terms of content, I can't really make a judgment. I think in crude terms, you might actually do less material in the IB - but that's only because you're told the raw facts and the questions will test your application and stretching of those facts. As I say, the IB focuses more on building up your skills as a Physicist rather than drumming content into you. In A-level, everything you get examined on is taught, which obviously leaves there more to learn.

Mechanics is taught quite extensively in the IB; much more so than at A-level Physics. But if you do A-level Maths you can do up to 4 Mechanics modules, which probably involve more Mechanics than IB, although it is all Mathsy Mechanics.

The IB is better, tougher, more rewarding, more stimulating and involves proper Physics. If you have the chance to do the course, I'd recommend it highly.
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CocoPop
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Hi shamrock,

Thanks for your comprehensive response. My main concern was that perhaps at A level physics students apply calculus and go into more depth in terms of mechanics. My teacher told me something similar, in that the mechanics done at A level is all maths related, rather than physics. I'm pretty sure HL maths is already preparing me for this kind of stuff, but I wouldn't mind look at some sample questions. Do you know where I can find any mathsy mechanics questions from A level past or specimen papers?

Thanks
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calvinuk
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(Original post by CocoPop)
Hi shamrock,

Thanks for your comprehensive response. My main concern was that perhaps at A level physics students apply calculus and go into more depth in terms of mechanics. My teacher told me something similar, in that the mechanics done at A level is all maths related, rather than physics.

Thanks
I asked my teacher this, and he said that it's not part of the syllabus (AQA) but that he teaches as much maths to his students as he can, and tries to include calculus, but that's only at A2.

The physics at A level is nowhere near as Maths intensive as i'd like, but meh, c'est la vie.
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running from demons
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(Original post by CocoPop)
Hi shamrock,

Thanks for your comprehensive response. My main concern was that perhaps at A level physics students apply calculus and go into more depth in terms of mechanics. My teacher told me something similar, in that the mechanics done at A level is all maths related, rather than physics. I'm pretty sure HL maths is already preparing me for this kind of stuff, but I wouldn't mind look at some sample questions. Do you know where I can find any mathsy mechanics questions from A level past or specimen papers?

Thanks
I've looked at some of the mechanics papers and with IB higher maths calculus and physics none of it is too bad. If you can do the series and differential equations option (which a lot of people here seem to do) then that'll give you most of the techniques you'd do in the A level problems, and more in some cases.
Search and you'll find plenty of papers. Here are a couple of examples:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/12690676/M...el-Maths-Tutor
http://www.freeexampapers.com/FreeEx...BKYW4vTTMucGRm
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trm90
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IB HL Physics is harder, not only because of its synoptic nature in exams, but because it'll tend to throw in a lot more unexpected questions.

The catch: it's not just random calculation/derivation questions only (which, forgive me, tend to be the easier questions if you've practiced enough anyway) - it's also applying theory to less common physical phenomena. Personally that's where I found questions to be harder.

Both A-level and IB physics avoid calculus to the point that if you're going to find the area under a curve you have to use the squares of the graph :rolleyes:... The new Pre-U qualification has no qualms with expecting students to use calculus, though.

As for mechanics - not much of a difference. The IB puts more stress on gravitation, and will normally have tougher mechanics questions, but that's about it.
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shamrock92
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(Original post by CocoPop)
Hi shamrock,

Thanks for your comprehensive response. My main concern was that perhaps at A level physics students apply calculus and go into more depth in terms of mechanics. My teacher told me something similar, in that the mechanics done at A level is all maths related, rather than physics. I'm pretty sure HL maths is already preparing me for this kind of stuff, but I wouldn't mind look at some sample questions. Do you know where I can find any mathsy mechanics questions from A level past or specimen papers?

Thanks
IB Physics has now had all of the Calculus removed. :cool:

If you look on the OCR past papers website they have loads of Mechanics past papers.
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gurumasta
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IB Physics concerns more application of the stuff you learn. In A-Level you just regurgitate the facts on to the paper.

I can't comment about specific syllabus items but all I can say is that Physics HL takes more of my time than all of my other subjects combined and I take Math Phys Chem HL Eng A1 German B and Eco SL.
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CocoPop
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Hey guys, thanks for all the responses. I am taking Maths HL, and one of my options are indeed series and differential equations. That will probably help quite a lot with the calculus side. It doesn't seem like there's much (or anything, in fact) extra that is included in A level physics that I won't be covering. Do you know if they cover angular momentum?

Thanks for all the links as well.
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fizzicsfiend
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CocoPop, I don't see any reason to try and discriminate between HL physics and the A level equivalent. Both are designed so you'll have the grounding necessary to pursue physics at university, even though they are better for different things. That being said, I've thought about it a lot and personally wish I was doing the A level instead purely because A level students have a lot more time on their hands to do extra work.

If you're serious about physics, then you shouldn't just be sticking to IB style questions anyway - maybe go to your school library and pick out a different textbook? To be honest the best thing is to use lots of different materials.
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aspqwert
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The IB options paper, which includes topics of classis mechanics like General Relativity is far more higher in content than A Levels paper . Other wise I think we can equate A level as somewhere between IB HL physics and IB Sl physics
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calvinuk
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(Original post by aspqwert)
The IB options paper, which includes topics of classis mechanics like General Relativity is far more higher in content than A Levels paper . Other wise I think we can equate A level as somewhere between IB HL physics and IB Sl physics
Dream on :rolleyes:

You can actually take GR stuff at A level if you so wish.

So you're saying what you take is harder, and you take more subjects?

Bull ****.
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aspqwert
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Unfortnately I didnt know that you can take GR at A level as it does not state so in ur syllabus....

Difficulty is a matter of perception... so i respect and accept your views on the topic... but only a person who has done both can honestly tell. Apart from that I agree that the scope of the A level Syllabus is greater.., if not challenging at the exam level
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aspqwert
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and ofcourse the math in IB is pretty pathetic...
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Unperfect
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(Original post by CocoPop)
What's the difference between IB HL Physics vs. A Level Physics in terms of topics covered? One of my teachers was saying that A level goes into more detail, but I find that quite hard to believe considering the masses of people who get As versus the very few who get 7s. I am particularly interested in the difference in the topic of Mechanics.

Thanks
http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/a.../ibcourses.pdf
page 46
I'll give you a quote
(Original post by some guy at cambridge)
Since the A Level exam is modular, candidates can target revision on certain topics for certain
papers. By virtue of the assessment structure, DP candidates cannot do this but must be in command of all the subject in each exam. Having said that, there is some choice of question and there are fewer specifically “synoptic” questions, demanding knowledge from more than one area, on the IB Physics exam. The style of the IB’s course is more traditional and the exam papers reflect this.
That answers your question in part; in IB physics you have to know it all for one exam; whereas the A-level module structure you can just know it for a short period of time and then just forget it; also by looking at past a-level papers it seems that the questions a-level students get are much more "streamline"; i.e. you can sort of expect what type of question will come up. So getting a 7 in IB Physics may be harder than getting an A(now an A* i guess) in A-level Physics.
EDIT:
(Original post by aspqwert)
and ofcourse the math in IB is pretty pathetic...
Yeah in IB physics the maths is pathetic(i mean physics with no calculus is really a joke :P ) but apparently a 5 in IB HL is equivalent to an A in A-level math :eek:(not sure how true this is but... see page 49).
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CocoPop
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(Original post by Unperfect)
http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/a.../ibcourses.pdf
page 46
I'll give you a quote

That answers your question in part; in IB physics you have to know it all for one exam; whereas the A-level module structure you can just know it for a short period of time and then just forget it; also by looking at past a-level papers it seems that the questions a-level students get are much more "streamline"; i.e. you can sort of expect what type of question will come up. So getting a 7 in IB Physics may be harder than getting an A(now an A* i guess) in A-level Physics.
EDIT:

Yeah in IB physics the maths is pathetic(i mean physics with no calculus is really a joke :P ) but apparently a 5 in IB HL is equivalent to an A in A-level math :eek:(not sure how true this is but... see page 49).
Thanks for the response. The reason why they equate a 5 to an A is because roughly the same number of people get 5+ in IB physics as the number of people that get As in A level. Shocking, isn't it? Considering that Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial often ask for 7s in Physics...
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ysbera
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The math in physics indeed is easy but as some people pointed out above, the exam requires a lot of application of your knowledge in unfamiliar questions. I think that's the challenging part of IB physics.
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fizzicsfiend
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(Original post by CocoPop)
Thanks for the response. The reason why they equate a 5 to an A is because roughly the same number of people get 5+ in IB physics as the number of people that get As in A level. Shocking, isn't it?Considering that Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial often ask for 7s in Physics...
Erm, I suppose you mean percent-wise, because that is just plain rubbish.

I don't think it's reasonable, but it certainly isn't shocking. They ask for 7s because 7s are the top grade, in the same way that A*s are now the top grade for A levels. It's not as though they would ask for anything less than the best just to make things even out across qualifications.

With regards to the maths, the pdf Unperfect just posted suggests that IB physics requires "greater mathematical sophistication" which I am going to agree with having seen some pretty easy A level papers, and because one of my A level buddies said so after seeing one of mine.
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