GCSE Physics (Key Stage 4)

GCSE physics (Key Stage 4) builds upon the knowledge gained from KS3 science, dwelling into greater depth about key topics that define our everyday life.

As with any GCSE subject, physics consists of various topics. It is the study of the universe and everything about it. Physics is the study of everything from how electricity travels to the solar system, the galaxy and the big bang theory. The topics taught will include motion, energy, matter, force, motion, space, time and energy.

Many students find physics to be a challenging subject. One of the reasons they find GCSE physics challenging is because it is very maths heavy.

It is critical to understand the foundational topics in detail as this will form the basis on which you build up for a good grade at GCSE.

GCSE physics specification at a glance:

The three main exam boards that examine GCSE physics are AQA, OCR and Edexcel. Each board has two papers with the option of taking the foundation level or the higher level exam.

While there is some variation in the subject content between boards, the key ideas remain constant.

The specific topics tested by each board can be found in the tables below.

GCSE Exam Specifications by Exam Board

AQA

Paper 1 Paper 2
Energy Forces
Electricity Waves
Particle model of matter Magnetism
Atomic structure Space physics

Edexcel

Paper 1 Paper 2
Forces and motion Forces and motion
Electricity Electricity
Waves Waves
Energy resources and transfers Energy resources and transfers
Solids, liquids and gases Solids, liquids and gases
Magnetism and electromagnetism Magnetism and electromagnetism
Radioactivity and particles Radioactivity and particles
Astrophysics Astrophysics

OCR (A)

Paper 1 Paper 2
Matter Waves in matter
Forces Radioactivity
Electricity Energy
Magnetism and magnetic fields Global challenges
Practical skills Practical skills

OCR (B)

Paper 1 Paper 2
Radiation and waves Radiation and waves
Sustainable energy Sustainable energy
Electric circuits Electric circuits
Explaining motion Explaining motion
Radioactive materials Radioactive materials
Matter – models and explanations Matter – models and explanations
Ideas about sciences Ideas about sciences
Practical skills Practical skills

The 2014 KS4 English National Curriculum states the following aims for physics:

Students should be helped to understand how, through the ideas of physics, the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a number of key ideas which are of universal application and which can be illustrated in the separate topics set out below. These ideas include:

  • the use of models, as in the particle model of matter or the wave models of light and of sound

  • the concept of cause and effect in explaining such links as those between force and acceleration, or between changes in atomic nuclei and radioactive emissions

  • the phenomena of ‘action at a distance,’ and the related concept of the field as the key to analysing electrical, magnetic and gravitational effects

  • that differences, for example between pressures or temperatures or electrical potentials, are the drivers of change

  • that proportionality, for example between weight and mass of an object or between force and extension in a spring, is an important aspect of many models in science.

At Redbridge Tuition, our tutoring explores the key principles behind the science of the natural world in terms of physics and its application in real life and be able to use it as a platform/base for your scientific knowledge.

Our main priorities for teaching are to:

  • ensure that each topic has a strong foundation on which you can succeed to build.

  • develop a strong understanding of mathematical applications in physics in topics such as forces and energy. This is because a majority of the final exam papers require students to use mathematics to provide numerical solutions. Therefore, a strong mathematical understanding of algebra and general numerical competency is important.

  • practice exam-style questions in each lesson, relevant to topics covered that week. This will encourage students to practice questions regularly, solidifying their understanding of the topic, while also preventing last-minute revision during the exam period.

While the structure and weighting of each exam vary slightly by each exam board, the skills required are, however, fairly consistent from paper to paper and from board to board. Therefore building and sharpening their skillset in terms of subject knowledge is crucial to improving a student’s prospects of a higher grade. They can assist you to get organised with your workload or with any specific topics you find challenging and clear up any misconceptions.

100% of the marks are from the GCSE exam.

GCSE Single Science (physics) exam breakdown:

AQA (Grades 1 – 5)

Paper 1 written paper
Energy 100 marks 105 minutes 50%
Electricity
Particle model of matter
Atomic structure
Paper 2 written paper
Forces 100 marks 105 minutes 50%
Waves
Magnetism and electromagnetism
Space physics

Edexcel (grades 1 – 5)

Paper 1 written paper
Key concepts of physics 100 marks 105 minutes 50%
Motion and forces
Conservation of energy
Waves
Light and the electromagnetic spectrum
Radioactivity
Astronomy
Paper 2 written paper
Key concepts of physics 100 marks 105 minutes 50%
Motion and forces
Conservation of energy
Waves
Light and the electromagnetic spectrum
Radioactivity
Astronomy

OCR (Grades 1 – 5)

Paper 1 written paper
Matter 90 marks 105 minutes 50%
Forces
Electricity
Magnetism and magnetic fields
Practical skills
Paper 2 written paper
Matter 90 marks 105 minutes 50%
Forces
Electricity
Magnetism and magnetic fields
Practical skills

How can I help my child at home?

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Organisation and subject knowledge are key.

Usually, a child will study upwards of 8 subjects for GCSE. This means that they must be very organised with their time as well as with their work.

Good organisation and clear thinking will go a long way towards cutting back the anxiety of GCSE exams.

  • Make sure your child has a clear, calm and well-lit place where they can work.
  • Check that they have all of the resources that they need to revise (textbook, course materials etc).
  • Create a routine for them and make sure they stick to it.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum.
  • Make sure they get plenty of rest
  • Make sure they know the topics and sub-topics in the syllabus inside out.
  • Test them with random questions
  • The revision is down to them!

How Redbridge Tuition can help:

At Redbridge Tuition, we help our students understand the theoretical aspects of physics. We assist them in understanding how science underpins their own lives and existence.

If a student can master the concepts introduced at Key Stage 3, the greater success usually follows at GCSE. Our tutors understand what is expected in the exam to achieve a top grade and how to achieve it.

IGCSE Physics

Please note: We occasionally have other students who take Edexcel IGCSE which has a structure that tends to vary substantially from AQA, EDEXCEL and OCR. Whilst we have not listed that structure on here, we do work with children with the IGCSE curriculum.

More Information Or To Book A Spot