SG Handbook

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					   Bearsden Academy

Physics Department
                                         The Course
Standard Grade Physics is an „applications led‟ course; that is it examines practical applications of
Physics and aims to reveal some of the underlying scientific principles behind these applications.
The course can be seen both as providing a basis for further study of Physics and contributing to
your general education by helping to make sense of the physical environment around you. The
course aims to develop the skills necessary to find solutions to scientific problems and, through
success and enjoyment, to develop positive attitudes towards Physics

There are seven units in the standard Grade Physics course:


                   This unit examines the physical principles which underlie the rapidly developing
                   area of information technology. Among the aspects studied are radio and
                   television reception, communication satellites and the use of fibre optics for
                   transmitting information.

                   Using Electricity

                   This unit provides the opportunity to gain a knowledge and understanding of
                   the principles behind the electrical and electronic devices encountered in
                   everyday life. Since these principles are developed further in later units, the
                   emphasis in this unit is on providing a sound foundation of electrical circuit

                   Health Physics

                   This unit provides an insight as to how physics plays a vital role in modern
                   medicine: both in diagnosing illness and in providing effective treatment.
                   Aspects studied include measuring temperature, ultrasonics, optics and the
                   use of radioactivity in medical care.


                   Developments in the field of microelectronics have revolutionised the both our
                   homes and the world of work. This unit examines the developments in both
                   digital and analogue electronics and provides further applications of the circuit
                   theory developed in the Using Electricity unit. The associated practical
                   activities investigate the function of simple electronic devices and how they can
                   be linked together in electronic systems.

                   This unit introduces fundamental concepts of motion, forces and energy which
                   are developed further in later units. The main aim of this unit is to provide a
                   grounding in key concepts of mechanics and to relate these to everyday
                   aspects of travel such as the use of seat belts and the stopping distances of

                   Energy Matters

                   The provision of an adequate supply of energy, and the related environmental
                   impact of doing so, is one of the most important problems facing a modern,
                   highly-industrialised society. This unit studies energy supply and demand, the
                   generation of electricity and the principles involved in energy conservation,
                   especially in the home.

                   Space Physics

                   This final Unit endeavours to instil in pupils a sense of wonder about the
                   vastness of the Universe and to develop an appreciation of the ways in which
                   knowledge has been obtained about the constitution of stars. Our trips into
                   near space provide a context in which to consider the physical basis of space

Standard Grade Physics is a two year course and therefore the aim will be to complete four units
in S3 with the remaining three units to be covered in S4, leaving some time at the end of the
course for revision purposes. This equates to an average of 8-9 school weeks per unit (allowing
time for assessments), although the time allocated may vary from unit to unit. It may be that you
do not cover the units in the order stated above.

Each of these units has equal weighting in the final exam so it is vital that you retain all the
materials issued for each unit for the duration of the course and revise each unit on a regular

If you miss any aspects of the course it is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any
materials that were issued and catch up on any work missed.

You will be assessed in three different elements in Standard Grade Physics:

          Knowledge &
                                            Problem Solving                           Practical Abilities

                                                                            This element examines your abiltity to
This element examines your ability    This element examines your
                                                                            undertake simple practical techniques in
to retain knowledge and display an    abiltity to solve problems using
                                                                            Physics and to carry out practical
understanding of key principles of    the principles of Physics you
                                                                            scientific investigations relating to the
Physics                               have studied during the course.
                                                                            Standard Grade course.

These two elements are assessed by means of end of unit tests, an           This element is internally assessed by
S3 exam, a prelim exam in S4 and a final SQA exam. Each of these            your class teacher and contributes to 20%
elements contributes 40% to your overall award in Physics .                 to your overall award grade

Grades Available
Credit level            – grades 1and 2
General level           – grades 3 and 4 (there is also a „near miss‟ grade 5)
Foundation level        – there is no Foundation level course for Physics
At each level the grade boundaries for each element are usually taken to be 50% for the lower grade and 70% for
the upper grade (i.e. anything above 70% at Credit level gets a grade 1, anything between 50% and 70% at
General gets a grade 4 etc). A „near miss‟ grade 5 can be obtained in a General level paper for a mark within about
5% of the grade 4 boundary (i.e. usually 45-50%). The grade you achieve at Credit level supersedes any that you
achieve at General level

Calculating Your Overall Grade
Your overall grade for Physics can be calculated using the following equation then rounding to the nearest whole

((KU grade x 2) + (PS grade x 2) + PA grade) ÷ 5

e.g.    KU 4, PS 3, PA 2 gives ((2x4)+(2x3)+2)÷ 5 = (8+6+2) ÷ 5 = 16÷ 5 = 3.2 = grade 3

Homework forms a vital part of the Standard Grade Physics course. There is a great deal of
content to be covered in the course and is very important that you keep up to date with your
Homework in Physics may take a variety of forms:

                                    These will be issued by your class teacher. Completion dates for these will be
Formal written homeworks            set by your teacher. Please ensure that these are completed on time.

                                    Classwork that is not completed in class should, where possible, be completed
Completion of classwork             at home (there is only about 20 hours of class time available for each unit).

                                    Since the Standard Grade course is a two year course there is a great deal of
                                    information to be retained for a prolonged period of time. It is therefore vital that
Revision                            you spend regular time revising your work at home. In particular you will have to
                                    revise your work thoroughly for end of unit tests and exams.

                                    Past paper question practice is excellent preparation for exams. Through
                                    experience you will learn to recognise the different types of questions that are
                                    asked and improve your Problem Solving skills as well as testing out your
Past paper questions                Knowledge and Understanding. Make sure you have access to past paper
                                    questions, either from your teacher or your own, when preparing for tests and

                                    Occasionally your teacher may ask you to research a particular area of work in
Research                            your own time, either using textbooks, the internet or library facilities.

One teacher, self or peer assessed exercise will be set roughly every 2 weeks.
You should undertake at least 30 minutes per week personal revision and/or completion of work set in class. This
amount should increase as you progress into in S4.

Completing Homework
Your teacher will try to ensure that the homework is of an appropriate level of difficulty and try to avoid overload in
relation to other subjects.
Ensure the details of any homework that you are set is entered correctly into your homework planner.
Remember that homework is not a test of your ability, but an opportunity to improve. Use your notes, the internet,
or any other resources, to help you if you get stuck
If you have a particular difficulty with any homework please speak to your class teacher in advance, do not leave it
until the day it is due.
Failure to complete homework will be logged on pupil monitoring sheets. After a verbal warning, and any
appropriate support, you will be given the opportunity to resubmit your homework.
If you fail to submit homework with no apparent justification it may be referred to the Principal Teacher as a
disciplinary matter.
Repeated failure to complete homework (at least three occasions) will be reported to your Guidance teacher, who
may get in contact with your parents

There are a variety of resources available to you to support your learning in Standard Grade
Physics. Some of these will be provided to you by your class teacher, some are available
through the school network or internet and some you may have to purchase for yourself

Learning Outcomes        You will be provided with a detailed list of the learning outcomes for each unit, as
                         specified by the SQA. These clearly indicate which aspects of the course are
                         General level and which are Credit level. Pay particular attention to the verb used for
                         each outcome („state‟, „explain‟, ‟describe‟, „identify‟, „carry out calculations‟ etc).
Summary Notes            A summary note booklet will be provided to you for each unit of the course. These
                         provide all the details of the course content you are required to know. Credit level
                         items appear in shaded boxes (if in doubt cross-reference with the learning
Worksheets               Most Standard Grade units are covered using worksheets. These will be issued at
                         the start of each unit and should be returned at the end of each unit (except where
                         otherwise instructed). The worksheets contain details of practical activities, theory
                         and tutorial exercises. These can be used to complete any outstanding classwork at
Classwork notes and
problems                 Your own notes from class are an important resource. Make sure you look after your
                         classwork; keep it in a folder or jotter and do your best not to loose material during
                         the course of the year (remember: Standard Grade is a two year course.

Calculator               A scientific calculator is essential for Standard Grade Physics. Make sure you know
                         how to use its scientific notation functions and bring it to class for every period of
Past paper questions     A limited number of past papers are available within the department. If you borrow
                         any of these please ensure that they are returned. Alternatively, you may wish to
                         purchase a copy of the official SQA past papers. These need not necessarily be the
                         latest edition.
Textbooks                Copies of „Standard Grade Physics‟ by D.McCormick and A.Baillie (Hodder Gison)
                         are available in the department, but are not normally lent out to pupils. These are
                         available in bookshops if you wish to purchase a copy for yourself.
                         There are also a number of problem books available in the department, including
                         „Progressive Problems for Standard Grade Physics‟ by Bill Kennedy (Hodder
                         Gibson) and „Numerical Questions for Standard Grade Physics‟ by L.Robinson
                         (Chemcord). Again, these are not normally lent out to pupils, but can be purchased
                         in good bookshops if required.
Revision books           There are a wide range of revision books available for Standard Grade Physics that
                         can be purchased in any good bookshop, or obtained second hand from pupils who
                         have previously taken Standard Grade Physics. These include:
                           How to Pass Standard Grade Physics, Campbell White (Hodder Gibson)
                           Standard Grade Success Guide in Physics, Brian Arnold (Leckie & Leckie)
                           Standard Grade Physics Revision Notes, N.R.Short (Leckie & Leckie)
                           Revision Notes for Standard Grade Physics, L. Robinson (Chemcord)
                           Standard Grade Study-mate: Physics, K. Andrew McCormick (Hamilton)
Internet         There are a wide variety of websites available to support your learning in Physics
                 (remember: physicists invented the internet). Try these websites for information
                 specific to Standard Grade Physics:

                 For general interest in applications of Physics try:

                 If you are looking for details on certain aspects of the course try using Google, e.g.
                 „dc electric motor‟.
School Network   There are a variety of resources on the school ICT Network. These should be
                 accessible from anywhere in the school (e.g. the library and Room 44). Resources
                    fun Physics – interactive games covering much of the Standard Grade syllabus
                    (Start menu > All programs > Physics).
                    Virtual Intermediate 1 Physics and Virtual Intermediate 2 Physics – cover much of
                    the same material as Standard Grade (RMShared Documents > Physics).
                    PowerPoint Presentations – many aspects of the course covered (RMShared
                    Documents > Physics > Presentations and RMShared Documents > Physics >
                    Quantum Notes for SG Physics).
                    Movies – lots of movies on Physics topics (RMShared Documents > Physics >
                    Bookmarks – lots of bookmarks to individual webpages categorised by unit and
                    section (RMShared Documents > Physics > bookmarks file)
                                                  Top Tips

Quantities and Units

The numbers we use in Physics are measurements of things in the real world. These are called “quantities”
(e.g. current, speed, force). Every quantity has a standard unit in which it is measured. This is known as the
SI unit. Make sure you know the SI units for all the quantities you encounter in Standard Grade Physics.
(e.g. charge is measured in coulombs). It is a good idea to make a list of these quantities and units at the
back of your jotter or on a piece of paper somewhere.
Every time you write down a number in Physics you should also make sure you write the correct unit after it.
In some exam questions you will get no marks if you miss out the unit.

In all Physics tests and exams you will be provided with a Physics Data Booklet which lists all the
relationships (equations) required for each particular course. The relationships are stated with symbols
representing each of the quantities so make sure you know the meanings of each of the symbols (e.g. I for
current), as well as the units for each quantity.
It is a good idea to have your own copy of the relevant page(s) of the Physics Data Booklet to which you can
add you own notes as you progress through the course (e.g. the meanings of the symbols, units and where
each equation should be used).


Sometimes quantities in questions will be expressed in multiples or sub multiples of a basic unit. This is
indicated by a prefix. The following prefixes are commonly used in Standard Grade Physics:
                         giga (G)          x 1 000 000 000           = x10
                         mega (M)          x 1 000 000               = x10
                         kilo (k)          x 1 000                   = x10
                         centi (c)         x 0.01                    = x 10
                         milli (m)         x 0.001                   = x10
                         micro ()         x 0.000 001               = x10
Prefixed units should be converted into their basic unit before attempting calculations (e.g. 20 mA should be
written as 0.02 A or 20 x10 A).
N.B. A list of the prefixes and multiplication factors can be found on the Data Sheets of a Credit level exam

Scientific Notation
At Credit level you will be expected to work with numbers that are very big or very small. In order to do so it
is important to be able to use scientific notation (e.g. 3 x 10 ).
You will need a scientific calculator to carry out calculations involving scientific notation. Different models of
calculator handle scientific notation in different ways. Make sure you know how to use scientific notation on
your particular model. If in doubt ask your teacher (or a Maths teacher!) for advice.
How to answer the standard 2-mark question in Physics
Many questions in Standard Grade Physics require you to use equations to solve problems. To help you
with this you will be provided with a data booklet. The relationships (equations) required for Standard Grade
Physics are on page 3 of this booklet. (Note that this list also includes some equations not used in Standard
Grade, but required for the Intermediate 2 course).
In order to maximise your chances of getting as many marks as possible you should show full working for
these calculations.

David watches a farmer putting up a new fence some distance away. He sees the farmer hit a fence post
with a large hammer and 2 seconds later hears the "bang". If the speed of sound is 340 m/s, how far away is
David from the farmer?

Step 1: Write the most suitable equation - look it up in the blue data booklet to make sure it is correct. You
        get half a mark just for writing the correct equation.
                         d = vt
Step 2: Write down the terms in the equation with the values you know, or a question mark for the one you
        are to find out. (this can be done at the side of the page)
                                                     v = 340 m/s
Step 3: Now you can write the equation with the numbers in the correct positions (the “substitution”). This is
        worth half a mark.
                         d = 340 x 2
Step 4: Use your calculator (brain or electronic) to get the answer for the final mark. Don't forget to write the
        correct units in. You lose half a mark if you miss them out.
                         d = 680 m

Quite often (particularly at Credit level) you will get calculation questions worth three marks. The extra mark
may be allocated for obtaining some extra data that is not directly contained in the question (something you
should know, something you can look up in a data sheet or something you can work out from a table, graph
etc.). It could also be that two calculations are required to obtain a final answer.

What do I do?
The learning outcomes in Physics always begin with a verb that tells you what you must be able to do. Most
questions also use similar verbs. Make sure you understand what the verb means and what you are being
asked to do:
“State…”                 a simple statement of fact
“Describe…”              usually more detail than a simple statement of fact is required
“Calculate…”             a calculation is required
“Explain…”               give the reasons why something happens, in detail
“Suggest…”               make a suggestion, based on your knowledge or the information given
“Complete…”              information needs to be added to a table, graph, passage etc.
“Show…”                  you must demonstrate how you obtained an answer, by showing your working
Revision of classwork should take place on a regular basis throughout the course, “a little and often”, rather
than leaving it all until immediately before a test or exam. This is a much more efficient way to learn, will
give you a much better understanding of Physics, rather than a surface knowledge of the facts , and will
allow you to retain information for a longer period of time.
We would recommend at least 15 minutes 3 times a week of pure revision. If you are studying for longer
than this make sure you take regular breaks.

                                                                 Research shows that we learn best when we
                                                                 are actively involved in learning. Simply
                                                                 reading your Summary Notes or a textbook
                                                                 is, for most people, not an effective way to
                                                                 learn and can be an inefficient use of your

                                                                 Make sure you make good use of your time!

Try a variety of revision strategies and find the ones that work for you. Here are some suggestions:
       produce mind maps or concept diagrams for each of the topics you study in class
       use the Learning Outcome lists as a checklist of what you know, or “traffic light” them
       work through banks of questions
       highlight the key points in your jotter and Summary Notes
       make your own revision notes; don‟t just copy them from somewhere else
       make use of revision guides, which may explain things in a more understandable way
       make your own prompt cards for the key points in each topic
       work with friends to quiz each other
       try explaining some of the concepts covered to a friend or relative who doesn‟t study Physics
       use BBC Bitesize, or similar websites, to test your basics knowledge
       work through past paper questions

For more information on revision strategies try the following websites:

… and finally
Physics can be a challenging, but rewarding subject. Through Physics you will gain a
deeper understanding of the world around you and gain many important skills. Physicists
have been some of the most inventive and insightful people in history – you are the next
generation; but, very importantly, please enjoy the subject!

Paramban Nuhman Paramban Nuhman
About I am an engineering graduate