Physics Practicals

Things which need to be mentioned, and buried in mind.

  •  The limitations/suggestions. They’re worth a whopping 20% of the entire practical paper. One set of answers is always “there’s only 2 readings which aren’t enough, etc”, but others will require some thinking. While doing the experiment, consider the limitations or difficulties you’re facing and you should automatically come up with suggestions. For example: friction affecting a needle, difficult in doing X and Y at the same time, wind from a fan affecting results, etc. Check out common answers from the practical past papers.
  • Tables (in question 1). They’re usually worth an easy 10 marks or so. With enough practice it should be cake to make a table with the right headings, units, significant figures and six proper readings. Don’t worry too much about the accuracy of the values – there is usually a wide range of values acceptable. If you have the trend right then odds are you will get accuracy marks as well.
  • The graph is worth 4 marks, of which 3 should be easy to obtain. 1 is for the X and Y axises along with their units, 1 is for a proper shape, 1 is for proper values in the X and Y axises, and 1 is for the gradient. Other minuet details like writing “False Origin” on a graph that doesn’t start from (0,0) and small, sensible crosses/circles to plot points matter too, but not by much. Practice making the graph.
  • Don’t forget to add units to your answers. It’s a very common mistake people make and they lose marks just like that. If your answer is right but lacks a unit (or has a wrong unit) you won’t get any marks for that question. Never forget adding the unit!
  • There’s a question in Q2 that involves comparing your 1st experiment with your 2nd one. Those are also easy marks. The % difference is (k2 – k1) / k2 multiplied by 100, where k2 is the larger k value. If the % difference is within 10-15%, you can safely say “X is proportional to Y” or whatever.
  • If you cannot set up the apparatus and have been trying to do so for like 10-15 minutes, just ask the supervisor to help you out. You only lose 1 mark, 2 if you need major help. 1-2 marks isn’t much and you’re guaranteed to get accurate values.
  • Lastly, make sure you have practiced enough with different apparatus. Most of the time it’s just cakey electrical circuit and a pendulum but sometimes they add in weird things too.

The practical is honestly really easy – that’s why the GT for it is usually high (31-32 / 40 for an A).

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