The Cambridge IGCSE Physics syllabus helps learners to understand the technological world in which they live, and take an informed interest in science and scientific developments. They learn about the basic principles of Physics through a mix of theoretical and practical studies. Learners also develop an understanding of the scientific skills essential for further study at Cambridge International A Level, skills which are useful in everyday life.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
John: Mostly I enjoy it because it’s slightly easy to understand once you start studying for each topic.
Daffa: It’s more basic in the sense that you’ve studied a lot of the things before in year 9. You just have to improve your knowledge a bit to do IGCSEs. It’s not a huge jump compared to other subjects.
Emily: It gives you a new perspective of the world in a way, where you can figure out how things work and really explains it in comparison to how you were in year 9.
What is the most challenging about the subject?
John: In my opinion, I would say drawing the graphs because it’s quite time-consuming.
Daffa: What he said and a lot of practical skills. Because you don’t really develop [practical skills] when you’re in year 9, year 8 and 7. Now you’re more hands-on. You have to know how to draw graphs and fill up tables from experiments.
Emily: I guess along those lines as well, with your practical skills and since we’re doing alternative to practical, you need to be able to put that down on paper so you need to develop your skills in that area.
Why did you choose this subject?
John: I actually chose physics because my parents told me to. But I actually didn’t want to take physics before, but my brother convinced me because if I took physics, I would be able to do engineering or something to do with maths.
Daffa: Yeah, it’s actually exactly the same but without the brother part. Physics sort of helps you with everything. The knowledge doesn’t necessarily make you good at it, it just gives you the skills for all the practicals. You learn how to record the steps, you know how to analyse your data. Those kind of skills you will need in your life and for other subjects, not just physics.
Emily: For me, it was because I was doing triple science so I just took physics. It wasn’t for the subject specifically, but now I think it’s a really good subject because it gives you a really broad spectrum of things to choose from once you finish IGCSE physics.
Was there anything in the subject that was different from your initial expectations? What were the main changes from year 9?
John: I actually expected that there would be a lot more equations and it would be a lot harder but when I was studying for it and when I went for tuition for it, I started realising that it wasn’t actually that hard, it’s actually kind of easy if you work for it.
Daffa: Yeah, exactly like you said again - you think it’ll be really hard because physics, when it comes to a lot of things, but when you actually go into it, it’s not that hard. You just look at the equations, put them into the question and you have it already.
Emily: About the same for me. Now that you know the theory and you know the equations, for the questions you have to combine them both and answer them well.
How are the lessons like?
John: Usually the teacher will put a question [on the board] or tell you how to do it. Then, she will give you another question, and you will have to do it on your own.
Daffa: Yeah, you won’t have the teacher exactly but when I was doing physics, the teachers would just give you the basic knowledge and it’s there for you to expand the knowledge by yourself, by reading, by doing homework, doing your own work etc. Yeah, that’s all.
Emily: For me when I started in year 10, we had a lot of practicals, for our class. But actually they were kind of toned down. It’s not that we didn’t go into theory in the first place, but now since we’re towards the end of our IGCSE Physics [syllabus], we’re doing more papers and we’re doing more of the questions and theory work.
How much homework or independent study do you do a week for Physics?
John: I usually have tuition on Saturday and Sunday, but I also have homework from Ms Yati, and she doesn’t give me too much homework, but she gives it enough for me to understand and makes me interested in Physics.
Daffa: For me, I just did homework. For IGCSE, that’s all you need: homework, and what your teacher tells you to do, that’s it. You don’t need much more than that. It’s not A-Levels, or university, so just do what they say and you’ll be fine.
Emily: For me, I don’t have tuition so pretty much on homework again, and also past year paper questions. That’ll be about it.
What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
John: In Physics, maybe you would develop equations, maths, and also shows you how you use your common sense and logic to solve application-wise questions.
Daffa: You get to learn how to do graphs with a lot of discipline. Like Ms Yati would focus a lot on the graphs and make sure you’re not making mistakes. It’s a good skill to build up for math or your further studies too.
Emily: Physics to me was a mix of something you do in maths, and some of the skills you do in chemistry, or another subject where you have your equations and your formulas, and you need to be able to implement them. And you have your theory work, and you need to be able to explain them, and you kind of develop your skills in all the areas and it’s really useful for anything and everything, really.
Apart from chemistry and math, will taking any other subject help me to be successful in this one?
Daffa: Physics is very straightforward, just learn Physics and you’re good at it. It’s very logical. It’s not English where there are different interpretations of the answer, or other meanings to the answer, it’s just [like math] the answer, or it’s not right at all. For a lot of my friends, when they did Physics, some of them only had Physics itself, and they were fine.
How did you find doing Chemistry and Physics. Were they similar?
Daffa: In the beginning no. They’re two very different things but towards the end, you’ll need some definitions for things, and some cross-reference between the subjects. Sometimes you’ll find Physics definitions in Chemistry, and Chemistry definitions in Physics.
Any tips for the new Physics students?
John: You should revise a lot because Physics is not a subject where you can depend - where you know that you’re gonna get it and it’s one of the subjects where you have to study and work hard. There’s a lot of learning and then do it.
Daffa: For physics you need to understand the theories really well. If you don’t grasp the knowledge then it’s very hard for you to do it. But if you get around with the theory and how to do what, work to do what. It’s very easy for you.
Emily: I’m gonna say merely… Just understand, like Daffa said, don’t try to memorise. You can continuously revise and refresh your memory but you really need to understand everything that’s happening.
Overview by Mr.Lyng
Hi Year 9, I’m here to talk about Physics IGCSE. My name is Mr Lyng. I haven’t taught all of you so far, but I have taught IGCSE for a long time and I’m currently teaching a lot of the A-Level Maths and Physics at the school.
So just going to describe Physics very quickly: it’s challenging, it is stimulating, and it is exciting. Those are the 3 words I would choose to describe it. One of the things that Physics does is that you don’t need to know a lot of stuff. It’s not very content-heavy, but what it does do is that it asks you to think and apply the knowledge that you do have. So one of the big skills is not just in learning the stuff but it’s actually then applying it in questions and that’s one of the hardest things about it.
Papers in IGCSE Physics
Paper 1,2: Multiple choice
(Paper 1 is Core and Paper 2 is Extended. You only do 1 of these 2 papers.)
30% of total marks
Requires skills such as knowledge and understanding and handling of data.
Assess your understandings of the core concept of Physics.
Paper 3,4: Structured Questions
(Paper 3 is Core and Paper 4 is Extended. You only do 1 of these 2 papers.)
1 hour 15 minutes
50% of total marks
Requires skills such as knowledge and understanding and handling of data.
Longer questions all building on certain types of knowledge.
Paper 6: Alternative to Practical
20% of total marks
Requires skills such as experimental and investigation skills.
Assess your practical skills. How you would design and set up practical experiments, and assess whether your answers to a practical investigations are accurate, or whether errors are within it.