Hi everyone! I’m Edward Townsend-Medlock, a Physics tutor at Project Academy who graduated from the SHORE School in 2017. I hope you find this article helpful.
The Year 11 & 12 Physics courses have A LOT of content. This makes the typical memorisation approach super inefficient, especially since you have at least 8 other units you should be studying for.
So what does this mean? First of all, we have to identify that the syllabus is written in a way to reward understanding over memorising. Understanding it actually reduces the amount of memorisation required. (There’ll still be some things to memorise, but much less than you think!)
Physics is a subject that requires understanding, and one in which you CANNOT do well by diving head first into past papers to ‘find out what you don’t know’. Or even worse, memorising past paper solutions to long response questions 🤦♂️
To study efficiently:
Grab a syllabus sheet, available here: https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/11-12/stage-6-learning-areas/stage-6-science/physics-2017
Read below to learn an effective way to structure your understanding of the syllabus, minimising the amount of time you spend memorising 🤓
Firstly, Build a Flowchart
This is the meaty section for cutting down your memorising. The syllabus is written so it flows from one dot point to the next. The basic structure of the syllabus is:
- Here’s a physical PRINCIPLE
- It led to a bunch of interesting DISCOVERIES
- And that led to the INVENTION of some brand new tech
For example, when were exploring faradays law (something well get into in year 12):
- The PRINCIPLE – Faraday’s Law and Lenz’s law – the interaction between electricity and magnetic fields which causes things to move.
- The DISCOVERIES – This concept helped develop (or further develop) our ideas on electricity, EM induction, etc
- The INVENTIONS – And that all led to motors, electricity generation, speakers, etc. all of which are applications of those original principles by Faraday and Lenz – so if you understand how these laws work, all applications become much more manageable to understand 🙏
Side note: DEEP UNDERSTANDING of the principles is not easy and hence will be the most time consuming part. This the divider for band 5-6 students, but it’s worth it!
On my copy of the syllabus, I literally drew arrows, from points that were closely linked, and labelled, them if they were, like an example of the concept, an application of the concept, an experiment relating to this concept, and so on.
This cleans up your memorising immensely! It turns the syllabus into a flow chart rather than lists of points you must know.
Let’s Dive Into More Detail with the Example:
In general, the idea is to ‘chunk’ together each topic into 3-4 things so that your brain will handle it much easier. It does not contain ALL the information for each dot point – that would just be too cluttered. It is structured:
- A Main discovery / scientific observation
- Labelled arrows showing how your main idea links to your next point.
- What scientific experiments followed on from this observation.
- What physics principles come out from the results of these experiments.
- Any key information that all questions involving this point must include.
Secondly, Memorise the Rest:
(the history of Physics stuff 😱)
You are not safe from memorising completely it seems. There are a few (annoying 🙊) dot points which are just a history lesson like:
- The history of the speed of light
- The Michelson and Morley Experiment
- Also pracs (they suck)
NOTE: This list encompasses points that are separate to the main ideas of your flowchart, so are not directly related. So you gotta memorise >:(
Overall, the syllabus is not a set of dot points each to be memorised. Instead understanding the main concepts and organising the dot points accordingly cuts down your overall workload hugely.
BEFORE YOU DO PAST PAPERS…
- Separate the syllabus into sections.
- Link dots points together (they follow from one another!) into a logical flowchart for yourself 🙏
- Memorise the dots points that do not follow any particular section (examples above).
- Win the Prelim and HSC