Well done, you’re almost ready to take your OCR Physics exams! As exams get closer it might be starting to dawn on you that you still have a lot to do to prepare. The good news is that there’s no need to panic. The moment you devise a well-structured and timed revision plan will be the moment you take your exam performance into your own hands. Following a plan, each day will feel easier than having to think about the coming weeks all by one. In order to help you do this, here’s all you need to know as well as how we can help.
As a general rule, A-Levels are quite similar regardless of the examination board. After all, Newton’s laws don’t change depending on what kind of exam you’re taking! However, there are small differences between different exam boards that are useful to be aware of. This will help you plan your revision and structure your approach to your exams. OCR exams are different from others in that they are more context- and practical-based. For a subject like physics this is important to remember because while you’ll be required to learn theories and laws, you’ll have to show your knowledge through practice questions in your OCR Physics A-Level examinations.
About the Board
The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR) exam board was created in 1998 through a whole series of mergers, abolitions and handovers that happened in the period of 1993-1998. Today, it is one of the biggest examination boards and is run by the University of Cambridge. OCR A-Level Physics is a ‘linear subject’. This means that students take all of the exams at the end of the academic year as opposed to throughout it (something that used to happen with ‘modular subjects’).
How long will the course take to complete?
You can choose to take the AS course in OCR Physics or the full A-Level. If you elect to take the AS course, it will take 1 academic year. If you choose to take the full A-Level, then it will take 2 years. You are free to make this choice yourself, but when doing so keep in mind that most university courses have a minimum requirement in terms of UCAS points. This means that they mandate that at least three of you’re A-Levels be full courses and not just AS.
Is any prior knowledge required?
The OCR examination board does not specify a particular requirement of prior knowledge for entry into this qualification. However, it does state that the A-Level specification has been written to provide progression from GCSE Science, GCSE Additional Science, GCSE Further Additional Science or GCSE Physics (or equivalent Level 2 qualifications).
What will I study?
What kind of content you will study will depend on whether you elected to take just AS Level Physics or the full A-Level Physics. The good news is that the entire subject is structured for progressive learning. This means that those studying for the AS level will cover the development of practical skills in physics, foundations of physics, forces and motion, and electrons, waves and photons. Those taking the full A-Level will study those same modules and on top of those, they will also cover Newtonian world and astrophysics and particles and medical physics.
What is the examination process like?
Much like the content depends on the course you are taking, so do the exams themselves. If you are taking only AS Level OCR Physics, then you will take sit two exams at the end of the year, each of which counts for 50% of the final grade. Each of these exams will be 1 hour and 30 minutes long. Meanwhile, if you are taking the full A-Level OCR Physics then you will sit three exams. The first two (Modelling Physics and Exploring Physics) will each be worth 37% of your final grade. Both of these assessments will last 2 hours and 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the third and final exam (Unified Physics) is worth 26% of the final grade and will last 1 hour and 30 minutes. Unlike the AS Level, the full A-Level also requires a ‘practical endorsement’ which is a non-exam assessment. This means that a teacher will evaluate your practical competency in order to write a ‘practical endorsement’ which will translate into a ‘pass’ mark on your final OCR Physics A-Level certificate.
You are advised to revise for approximately three to four hours a day for your physics exams. This will give you plenty of time each day to go through the content, but it won’t overwork you which could lead to burnout. To avoid burnouts it is also important to maintain a healthy routine during the exam season. Incorporate healthy eating and physical exercise between revision sessions to manage stress and daily motivation. Stay away from distractions like the internet or TV during your revision sessions. Instead, keep them as a reward for after revision and you’ll be able to maximise your revision time and efficiency (and enjoy your free time guilt-free). Don’t just go through your content passively. OCR is a very practical examination board so spend some time tackling practical practice questions as you prepare your content. This way you’ll engage with the content actively.
As you progress in your revision, begin to use past papers to prepare for your exams. These papers are one of your most valuable revision tools as they give you an exclusive sneak peek into what to expect on exam day. Not only will you get to know the type of exam questions, but you can also time yourself and gain confidence knowing that you can finish the exam within the time limits. All of us at A-Level Physics are cheering for you and we’re here to help you achieve the very best results. In order to do that, we have tons of engaging material like mind maps, quizzes, and past papers prepared. So let us begin!