What do I need to know about GCSE Physics?

by Anita Naik

Physics helps explains the world and the universe. Studying it at GCSE level and beyond offers you the chance to develop skills that will make you very employable in the future. To help you make your decision about whether or not to opt for it, here is what you need to know about GCSE physics.

Reasons to study GCSE physics

Physics is the study of the universe and as such it focuses on a range of topics like energy, forces, waves, and the structure of atoms. It's worth choosing physics at GCSE if you are interested in careers that need science but also if you are interested in matter and energy and concepts about time, and space.

Studying physics is rewarding as it can lead to a diverse range of skills that are needed in fields such as science, engineering, education, medicine, law, and business. The diversity of careers is down to the fact that physics gives you a range of skills that includes maths, problem-solving, and the communication of complex ideas.

Should I choose Combined Science or separate sciences at GCSE?

Separate science GCSEs are where students study all three sciences and end up with three GCSEs. General Science also known as Combined Science is where students study biology, chemistry and physics but end up with two GCSEs.

The majority of GCSE students in England follow the combined course. Some schools offer both options so talk to your science teachers about what the best option is for you and your future plans.

What topics will I study in physics?

The initial study in physics focuses on covering the basics of the subject and then moves slowly towards more advanced concepts and topics. The exact specification for your GCSE depends on your examining board, but in the main, you will study the core aspects of physics:

Energy - work, energy demands, changes in energy stores.

Electricity - circuits, static and mains electricity.

Particle model of matter - particles in gases, temperature, density.

Atomic structure -atoms, ions, fission and fusion, radiation.

Forces - gravity, motion, Newton's Law's, momentum, refraction, sound, waves, pressure.

Magnetism and electromagnetism - transformers, induction, electromagnets, magnetic fields.

Space physics (physics GCSE only) - expanding universe, stars, solar system

How can I make an informed decision?

One way to find out if physics is for you is to increase your knowledge in the field. Try listening to podcasts like The Infinite Monkey Cage hosted by physicist Brian Cox or reading books by Stephen Hawking.

It's also worth checking out if your maths skills are strong enough, as maths is a significant component of physics. Talk to your teachers about your strengths and weaknesses, and think about boosting your skills in maths.

What will help me with physics?

At GCSE level, the topics you learn in physics are very detailed, so you need to build up your knowledge gradually. One good tip is to revise new information as you go. Then if you don't understand something don't move on seek out the help of a tutor or your teacher, so you don't have knowledge gaps when the exams come round.

For more information about tutors in your area, look at our listing page for physics.

Tags: GCSEs Physics
Categories: Syllabus GCSE Science