04 Jul Going from Secondary Pure Physics to JC H1 and H2 Physics
Considering taking physics in JC? You’ve come to the right place. Many students who take pure physics at O Levels go on to do H1 or H2 physics at A Levels, depending on their individual circumstances and preferences. However, the jump in content and difficulty can be daunting for some, and it is important that you understand the differences between secondary school physics and JC physics before committing yourself to the subject.
In this article, we will explore the main differences between O Level physics and A Level physics, the factors affecting whether you should take H1 or H2 physics and how you can benefit from taking physics in JC.
Differences between O Level physics and A Level physics
Generally speaking, there are two main differences between O Level physics and A Level physics. Regardless of whether you took pure physics or combined it with another science at O Levels, you can expect to face increased breadth and depth of content when taking A Level physics.
Breadth of content
Simply put, A Level physics covers many more topics than secondary school pure physics, which is meant to serve as a foundation for future learning. As a result, many students experience a steep learning curve even if they took pure physics at O Levels. For example, the H2 physics syllabus includes entirely new topics such as modern physics, which covers quantum physics and nuclear physics. These concepts would be largely unknown to those who studied physics in secondary school.
To ensure that you do not fall behind in JC physics, you should aim to score as well as possible for O Level physics. This will give you a good gauge of your abilities in the subject and help you determine whether you need additional practice or external help to improve your foundations. TSA’s JC physics tuition classes can help you bridge the gap between both syllabuses and even increase your interest in the subject!
Depth of content
Another way in which O Level physics differs significantly from A Level physics is the depth of content. This means that even for topics that you have previously been exposed to in pure physics, you will explore them in much greater detail and learn a new set of theories and formulas.
For example, the topic of kinematics in O level physics only covers motion of an object along a straight line. In A Level physics however, this is extended to 2 dimensions where students are taught to analyse the motion of an object simultaneously rising and moving forward.
While a pure physics background may give you a good starting point to learn this new content, consistent revision is key to ensuring that you are able to build on your previous knowledge. This will help you to draw links between it and the new concepts, which will allow you to master them much more quickly and efficiently.
Many new A level physics students typically find the increased mathematical demands for the subject jarring at first. Concepts from both O level Elementary and Additional Mathematics feature heavily in the H2 Physics syllabus. Students are presumed to be already proficient in topics such as trigonometry and calculus.
TSA’s H2 physics programme aims to bridge the gap between math and science. Mathematical derivations are shown explicitly and the underlying physical intuition is explained in detail. Students are trained to break down their mental barriers and are shown that both math and physics are two sides to the same coin.
Should you take H1 or H2 physics?
If you do decide to move on to JC physics from secondary pure physics, you will first have to make a choice between H1 and H2 physics. H1 and H2 stand for “Higher 1” and “Higher 2” respectively, and indicate the level of difficulty of the subject. Ultimately, there are many pros and cons to taking either level, and you should carefully evaluate your own goals, ability and interest in the subject to determine which one is right for you.
Some of the factors you can consider include:
H1 subjects are only worth 1 Academic Unit (AU), while H2 subjects are worth 2 AUs. All A Level candidates are expected to sit for a minimum of 10 AUs, which includes 3 AUs from H1 General Paper, H1 Project Work and Mother Tongue. Hence, most students will take 3 H2 subjects and 1 H1 subject to make up the remaining 7 AUs.
This means that if you take H1 physics instead of H2, all of your other subjects will have to be H2 subjects. However, if you take H2 physics, you have more freedom to decide which of your other subjects can be “downgraded” to H1.
Lack of practicals in H1 physics
As you might expect, the H1 physics syllabus is designed to be less intensive than the H2 physics syllabus, and as a result has fewer examinable papers for A Levels. One of the assessments that is eliminated in H1 physics is Paper 4, the practical exam. If designing and conducting experiments is not for you, you may want to consider taking H1 physics instead, even if you took pure physics in secondary school.
Increased content in H2 physics
On the flip side, if the prospect of more content and deeper dives into existing concepts excites you, H2 physics may be right for you. Though the academic load will undoubtedly be heavier than that of H1 physics, you will be able to explore interesting concepts in depth and gain a greater understanding of how the world works. You will also be able to strengthen your skills via the practical assessment, skills that will be important if you decide to pursue further studies or a career in science later.
Eligibility for university courses
One other reason you may choose to take H2 physics instead of H1 is that you can gain eligibility for more university courses, especially those in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). For example, many engineering courses at the National University of Singapore (NUS) require a pass in H2 physics at A Levels, so taking H1 physics instead can reduce the range of choices you have for higher education.
Why you should take physics in JC
If you enjoyed pure physics in secondary school, continuing with the subject in JC rather than another science subject can help you nurture your interest and increase your motivation for studying. JC physics is also substantially less reliant on rote memorisation than JC biology, so if you are not good at regurgitating information, a more application-based subject like physics may be a better fit. Finally, taking physics can also open up many exciting career paths in STEM, such as engineering, computer science and scientific research.
Strengthen Your Mastery of Physics with TSA
The Science Academy’s approach to H2 physics tuition has helped countless students not only improve their performance, but also strengthen their passion for the subject. With over 20 years of combined experience, our science tutors are committed to helping our students get the most out of their science education and instil a lifelong love of science.