How to Study for A Level Physics Part 1: Study Technique

This is the first part of a 3-part series on how to get an A for H2 Physics. Today I will be focusing on a study technique called active recall.

What is active recall?

Active recall flips the original way of learning on its head. Traditionally, you would spend countless hours sitting and memorizing information by cramming information into your brain without the context. 

This inefficient and time-consuming method is known as rote learning.

Rote learning works, but it has its limitations. This is especially true for an application heavy subject like H2 Physics, considering that there has been a recent shift towards higher level understanding questions in the syllabus. It is hence important to understand the concepts in physics.

With active recall, you are encouraged to curate questions based on that topic, and repeatedly test yourself based on those questions. This forces your brain to retrieve the important information.

Active recall, when used properly can help us to understand concepts at a deeper level. Understanding concepts in physics is like learning to ride a bicycle for the first time – once you get it, you really get it.

In short, active recall forces us to actively learn instead of passively reading it. Active recall can not only help us to significantly recall more information, but also help us to become aware of gaps in our concepts that we might not understand. 

Active recall is difficult. 

From what we’ve discussed so far on active recall, we know that it requires focus (something that I will write about in the later part of this series), and significantly more effort than simply reading and highlighting your notes. 

I know that it can sometimes be disheartening when you encounter questions from a challenging topic, and feel yourself unable to progress. When one is stuck, it is easy to see why one might go back to simply reading the notes. 

One way to prevent this from happening is to circle or highlight the challenging question and seek help from an experienced teacher to clarify your doubts.

This is where a common answer bank can come in to help us to become familiar with the frequently asked questions. Here are some useful resources to help you in your revision.

Topical Revision Package: NYJC PRIME

H2 Physics Summary: RJC

2019 H2 Physics Prelim Papers: Various JCs

In physics, the structured questions tend to be relatively straightforward once we are able to identify the relevant content that is being tested. Hence it is important to practice these questions consistently and self-mark the answers as strictly as possible.

In the next part, I will be focusing on how to schedule our revision to ensure that we are ready for the A level exams.

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