Study Resources

What does it take to get a H1 in Higher Level Physics?

Rachel Birt, a past pupil from The Institute of Education who achieved a H1 in Leaving Cert higher level physics, tells us how she got top marks in the exam.

Study past papers & the marking scheme

Past papers and, more importantly, the marking schemes are your best friends! I studied one topic on the course at a time and then focused on answering the past papers questions. It is vital to study the marking schemes as they will give you an insight into what the examiners are looking for. The physics paper is quite repetitive so you will definitely have an advantage if you are familiar with the types of questions and definitions that are asked.

Know your experiments!

Make sure you know the experiments well. You must answer 3 out of the 4 experiment questions – a gigantic 30% of the paper that can really settle your nerves before you even look at section B! I practiced the graphs and diagrams for each experiment regularly so that on the day of the exam these were second nature to me. Know the units that are used for each graph and be aware that data may need to be adjusted.

Section B

Learn the definitions as early as possible. This way you can focus on exam papers around exam time. Don’t leave out any sections of the course. Know where to find the formulae in the table books and learn your derivations well. Practice as many calculation questions as possible as the techniques required are repetitive.

Timing is key!

Timing is the key to success! I spent 15 minutes choosing the questions that suited me and then 20 minutes on each question. This also left me with 5 minutes to look over my paper and spend longer on any calculations which required extra thought.

What is the ‘feel good factor’ and how can it help you in the exam?

Section A of the Leaving Certificate higher level physics paper carries 30% of the overall marks for the exam.

In this short video Pat Doyle, who has been teaching physics at The Institute of Education for over 35 years, advises students to concentrate on this section of the exam first and explains why approaching the paper in this way can benefit them for the rest of the exam.

Sample Notes

Students who attend The Institute of Education are provided with exclusive, exam-focussed study notes to support their home study and revision. Below are a sample of the high-quality physics notes they receive.

Reaction to 2023 Physics Paper

Each year, our exceptional teachers give their take on the Leaving Certificate Higher Level exam papers.

See what Pat Doyle, physics teacher at The Institute of Education, had to say about the 2023 Higher Level exam paper in this short video.

To read teacher reactions to previous year’s biology exam papers check out our blog>>

Top Tips

Pat Doyle, physics teacher at The Institute of Education, shares some practical examples of physics in everyday life and his secrets to exam success.

Resonance | The Tacoma bridge disaster
This clip shows what happens when a suspension bridge experiences resonance. There is some dispute as to whether resonance was fully responsible for the collapse of the bridge and engineers have suggested that other factors may have been involved.

Resonance | Wine glass resonance in slow motion
By using high speed camera work you can observe a glass undergoing wave motion, as shown in this clip. By suitably matching frequencies, the glass experiences resonance. Once again a dramatic example of resonance.

Latent Heat | A refrigerator
This clip includes a clear and simple explanation of how a fridge works. Remember that refrigeration involves the physics of latent heat.

Preparing for the exam

  • During your revision pay very careful attention to past papers. There will be a lot of repeat material on the exam. Many of the definitions, which appear every year, are repeat questions.
  • Review mandatory experiment questions for the Section A questions.
  • Review Electricity, as it is a large part of the syllabus.

During the exam

  • Choose your questions wisely and make use of the rough marking scheme on the paper itself.
  • Answer the question asked.
  • Physics questions tend to have several parts which usually are not numbered. It is very easy to omit one part of a question, a very expensive mistake. To avoid this, put a mark beside each part of a question once completed.
  • Diagrams must be labelled. No labels no marks! 3-dimensional diagrams are not required. Marks simply go for correct labelling.
  • Keep an eye on the time. Allow 20 minutes for each of the 8 questions.

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