My experience preparing students to excel in IGCSE® Physics – from a solid KS3 foundation and with AS/A Level in mind

Students in classroom

By Elliot Sarkodie-Addo

Elliot Sarkodie-Addo is a Physics Teacher at Nord Anglia International School Al Khor and reviewer of Cambridge IGCSE® & O Level Complete Physics Student Book.

After producing several grade A*-C results in CAIE IGCSE® Physics it’s time to share what kind of thinking I put into my planning to produce such wonderful results. Complete Physics has been at the heart of all my planning.

IGCSE® planning must have

  • KS3 in mind to have a solid foundation for IGCSE®
  • AS/A Level Physics in mind to build the required foundation for success at IGCSE®

At KS3, Complete Physics for Cambridge Lower Secondary Student Book, Workbook and Teacher Pack sets the tone for my young learners to engage with the subject. Going through all content Units, demonstrations, some practical skills and enquiry lessons in the books, I prepare a cohort of curious young scientists who are ready take on the next challenge, IGCSE®.

One thing I always love to do is link each topic students learn in class to various applications in real life. For example, if I teach about moments, I like to discuss how this is used to operate cranes and after they solve several examples, I challenge them that the skill they have acquired can help them do any calculation needed to balance a crane. Simple things like these excite students and makes them want to study more concepts. Also, by doing this I can identify students who will carry Physics on to sixth form, as all their discussion, assigned projects and research will show you where their interests lie. Nonetheless those who would like to study other subjects at sixth form are motivated to take IGCSE® Physics and excel in their final exams.

With two physics lessons a week, I can complete all topics with a term or two to spare before students sit Cambridge Checkpoint Exams. The term or terms to spare goes into discussing Numbers, Units and using the measuring equipment students are likely to use in the coming year.

At KS4, Complete Physics for IGCSE® Student Book and Workbook guides my planning and the learning of my students. Having tried a couple of routes through the course, I realized that the route of the student book is best. It is the quickest route, fits term lengths very well and has been well thought through, making progression to more demanding concepts easier.

I have always incorporated practical in my planning right from the word go. I dedicate 1 lesson out of the 3 per week for students to do some practical in the first term. What I usually do is to select 5 IGCSE® Physics practical past papers for students to try. They attempt one question from a different paper every other week and feedback on the work they have done. At the end of the first term in year 10, they sit all components of the IGCSE® Physics exams. That is MCQ (Multiple choice questions), Theory (Structured) and an ATP (Alternative to Practical), to consolidate the practical work they did in the term.

At the time they sit the ATP exams, students would have acquired all the skills required to excel in the paper, without being put under extra pressure as the exams approach. Some teachers do not do practical until the tail end of the course. What I realized in those cases, is that students usually won’t have mastered all the skills at IGCSE® and go into sixth form not equipped to do A Level practical. My students after IGCSE® go into A Level with all the skills required to excel in Paper 3 and Paper 5 of their Cambridge AS/A Level Physics Exams. Students who have joined my sixth form class from other schools always come in somehow short and usually need some intervention to get them at Par with my students from IGCSE®. I encourage teachers to start practical work as soon as possible and not wait until they have completed certain topics before attempting practical. Dare to do something differently.

From the second term in year 10, I reduce the frequency of the practical tests to enable us to cover the syllabus content. Usually by the end of the first term of Year 11 I have completed the syllabus. After the winter break up until when students sit their IGCSE®, I get students to complete all the end of unit questions and exams style questions in the Complete Physics Student Book. Also, I set my students a target to solve all past papers from the last 10 exams series (last 10 years) with proper feedback and reference to the examiner’s comments/reports during lesson time.

The sky is just the starting point for your curious minds. With these tips in mind and Complete Physics for Lower Secondary and IGCSE®, you cannot get it wrong.

Explore the range of Science resources by visiting the Cambridge Lower Secondary Complete Science webpage and the Cambridge IGCSE® & O Level Complete Science webpage, where you can find out more about the resources available, explore sample pages and request digital inspection copies.