Assessment Report

Level 1 Physics 2017

Standards 90937  90938  90939

Part A: Commentary

A majority of candidates were able to perform calculations well. However explanations and diagrams were not completed to the same standard.

Explanations should use physics terms with precise meanings correctly.

Some candidates attempted explanations by describing mathematical relationships instead of relating phenomena to underlying physics concepts.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement or Not Achieved commonly left parts of questions blank.


Part B: Report on standards

90937:  Demonstrate understanding of aspects of electricity and magnetism

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • recognised the main physics idea relevant to a question
  • completed simple calculations
  • did not convert to SI units or converted units incorrectly
  • missed important details in the question.

Candidates who were assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • confused electrostatics and magnetism
  • rearranged formulae incorrectly for calculations
  • completed diagrams incorrectly.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • linked relevant physics concepts to the question context
  • converted to SI units correctly
  • incorrectly compared values with negative powers of ten.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • used multiple stage calculations to support an explanation
  • fully explained how physics ideas related to a given context
  • addressed precise details of the question in their explanations.

Standard specific comments

Many candidates were unable to draw correct diagrams to communicate concepts such as forces and circuits.

Directions of magnetic fields were often either misunderstood or not described clearly.


90938:  Demonstrate understanding of aspects of wave behaviour

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • correctly identified concepts relating to phenomena
  • described basic properties and behaviour of light waves and sound waves
  • applied simple formulae to solve questions.

Candidates who were assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • drew wave or ray diagrams incorrectly
  • described sound as a longitudinal wave in air but a transverse wave in water.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • stated the conditions needed for total internal reflection to occur
  • drew two rays on ray diagrams to indicate where an image is formed
  • described how the density of a medium affects the speed of sound
  • drew diagrams showing how light bends when passing from one medium to another
  • knew that different colours of light refract by different amounts in a prism
  • recognised that the distance must be doubled when calculating echo questions
  • converted m to cm.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • clearly answered the question that had been asked
  • explained why sound waves travel faster in a denser medium
  • drew accurate diffraction diagrams with wavelength staying the same
  • identified which colours of light refract more than others
  • recognised that a spectrum of light can be recombined to form white light.

Standard specific comments

A large number of candidates hampered their chances of identifying the required concepts by attempting to answer questions without using physics terms.

Diagrams were often drawn poorly and without the use of a ruler.

Some candidates thought that the nature of a wave (longitudinal or transverse) was determined by the medium rather than the type of wave.

90939:  Demonstrate understanding of aspects of heat

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • identified the correct heat transfer method relevant to a context
  • carried out one part of a multi-step calculation.

Candidates who were assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • made generic comments about heat transfer without stating which type of heat transfer was relevant to the context.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • carried out calculations correctly but made small errors such as incorrect rounding or units
  • Explained the processes of heat transfer.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • correctly applied heat transfer methods to contexts
  • clearly explained the relevance of specific heat capacity and latent heat
  • explained comprehensively how specific changes to a system would reduce heat transfer by relevant heat transfer methods
  • showed that they had read questions carefully by rounding numerical answers to the required number of significant figures and in the correct units.

Standard specific comments

Relevant methods of heat transfer (conduction, convection, radiation) and the direction of heat transfer from hotter to colder should be explicitly stated in written answers.

Candidates should be able to define and explain the differences between physics terms such as latent heat and specific heat capacity, heat and temperature.

Candidates should be able to explain the effects of heating on the motion and arrangement of particles both while temperature is increasing and when phase is changing.


Physics subject page


Previous years' reports
2016 (PDF, 232KB)

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