Dog learning physics
Past exams papers help you prepare and practice.

Getting yourself in the right frame of mind and feeling confident in your physics abilities can help ease the anxiety that exams can cause. While it can be difficult to revise when the sun is shining and the warmer weather is calling you to explore outside, managing your time will help you keep your hauora in check. Remember you will be studying a wide range of subjects so you need a plan of attack. When you get your exam timetable, allocate your time accordingly. If your exam for physics is at the beginning of the exam timetable, make sure you start revising at least a week before. Some people advocate for ‘cramming’ before the exam, but with that style of revision, it doesn’t take into account that you have multiple exams within a limited time frame.

Be kind to yourself. Focus on one subject for one hour without distractions such as phones around you. Once the hour is up, take a break. Get up and leave your study space. Make clear distinctions between this is where I study, this is where I relax. Just try to stay away from studying in your bed. While it can be comfortable, it can affect your ability to sleep. Another great place to revise is at your local library. The librarians will help you access textbooks and revision guides. There are dedicated study places where you can study in quiet as well as spaces that allow for chatting and discussions. The physical movement of going somewhere deliberately, whether that be in your home, or another location, helps your brain switch on to the task at hand. Now that you have your space set up, let’s focus on resources. A great tool to help you revise and practice are past exam papers.

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First time sitting an NCEA Physics exam?

The first time sitting external exams can be difficult, stressful and a little overwhelming. Where do you start? How should you study? What are the questions going to be like? All valid questions with a range of answers. This all depends on how you, as a learner, learn. Teaching others how to do certain equations will help to reinforce the process in your own mind. Working collectively is also an advantage as you can break down questions and ask others for help if you get stuck. At the end of the day though, you will be sitting the exam by yourself. Using past exam papers is a good way to familiarise yourself with the format of the exam. You will be able to see how the questions are arranged. A majority of the time the first sets of questions attached to question 1 and 2 are for achieved. They are the more accessible questions.

The questions that follow are more complicated and require more relational thinking. When you are in the exam, attempt as many questions as you can. The markers can award you an achieved, merit, or excellence in the more complex questions. Past physics exam papers also are great for practising. When choosing past exam papers, try to stay within the past three years. Standards and exams change over time so doing exams more than 5 years old may hinder you rather than help. When looking at past papers, look for the marking schedule as well. You have three hours to complete three papers. That gives you roughly 55 minutes a paper, so set yourself a challenge and attempt each of the past papers within the 55-minute timeframe. Use the marking schedule to see how you went and this will also help you to identify areas that you should spend a little more time practising.

physics is complicated
Figuring out the best physics method to use can take a bit of practice.

Looking to level up?

NCEA Level 2 is a big step up from Level 1. There are more complex questions that require you to remember a range of methods.  You have roughly 1 hour for each paper, but some may take more or less time depending on your content knowledge. Level 2 also helps you to decide on whether you would like to take physics the following year. Attempting all papers is a challenging and rewarding endeavour. To make it a bit easier, past papers help you practice and revise different methods in a low-stress environment. While the questions change from year to year, you will be asked to use similar methods and skills. Over the course of the year, you will have studied the application of physics to selected content, completed a practical investigation, wave systems, mechanical systems, electrical systems, modern physics, and used physics in relation to a socio-scientific issue.

By using past physics exam papers you can practice your understanding of different methods as well as be able to check your answers right away. For those looking towards merit and excellence, it can help you understand what you need to do in order to reach these marks. It is not just about getting the final solution correct, the way in which you solved it is just as important. It shows the examiner you understand what you are doing. So have a look at the exemplar example scripts if they are available to see how your approach is the same or different. Choose the past paper that you will most likely sit at the end of year exams.

 

The end of an era, NCEA Level 3

With different pathways to choose from, Level 3 physics is about preparing you for University. Chemistry, physics, and biology have their benefits and their difficulties and studying more than one keeps your options open to a wider range of courses at university. Using past papers can help you practice different methods you will need to remember and practice using solving physics equations. For those who are sitting two or more science subjects, your exams will most likely be on different days, but if you have a clash  (when you have two exams at the same time) and haven’t been spoken to by a teacher already, it is important that you speak to one as soon as possible.

When choosing a past paper to revise, pay attention to what is written on the paper. This will avoid any mix-ups with the different physics exam papers. Have a look at annotated exemplars. It gives some helpful tips on where students have done well, and where and why they have not been able to reach the required level. Using past papers to practice different methods will increase your understanding of how these methods can be applied. If you are looking for a challenge, try the scholarship exam.

Student and Tutor reviwing NCEA physics
Where is a good place to get more help in physics?

Thinking about getting a bit more help with NCEA physics?

Past physics papers are a key tool to help you to practice, explore, get familiar with external exams. Studying with someone else will increase your chances of success as you have someone to bounce ideas off of, discuss the merits of different methods, and someone to hopefully explain methods that may be a little tricky for you. If you are feeling unsure or looking to really grab a hold of different methods used in physics, then a Superprof tutor is for you. With a wide range of tutors to choose from, you can find someone that works with your style of learning. Whether you are looking for short term revision classes or someone to help guide you through particular topics, you will find what you need. Real tutors, with real reviews from real students, have a look today.

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