Results 1 to 24 of 24
Like Tree43Likes
  • 33 Post By porcupinetree
  • 1 Post By leehuan
  • 6 Post By Paradoxica
  • 1 Post By sida1049
  • 1 Post By Paradoxica
  • 1 Post By leehuan

Thread: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

  1. #1
    not actually a porcupine porcupinetree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    666
    Rep Power
    3

    A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Hey wonderful people of BoS!
    Over the past month or so, I’ve had quite a few people ask me for tips and advice regarding how to succeed in HSC Physics. Unfortunately, I don't have quite enough time to answer each and every person who’s asked me for help, so I figured it’d be better if I wrote up an extensive guide to HSC Physics aiming to answer the typical questions which people ask.

    Let me first make clear that this guide is simply a collection of my personal ideas, and is not exhaustive nor necessarily ‘correct’. Many of you may disagree with some of the points that I make, which is fair enough; everyone has their own experiences and methods relating to study (of Physics in particular).

    So, a little bit of info about me. In my HSC year (2015), I placed 3rd in the state for Physics and received an ATAR of 99.90 (attending a typically 200+ ranked school). I received the Sydney Scholars Award and am going to study a Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) at the University of Sydney (under the Science faculty’s Talented Students Program).

    I’ll structure this guide into 5 main parts:

    1) HSC Physics - an overview
    2) Study skills
    3) Exam preparation
    4) Exam technique
    5) Final tips and advice

    So, let's get started!

    1) HSC Physics – an overview


    Why is Physics something worth being interested in?

    Physics is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “the scientific study of matter and energy and the effect that they have on each other”. There are a couple of things to bring out of this definition:

    • Physics is a science – meaning that it is a study of aspects of the physical universe and is supported by observation, experiment, reason and rationality
    • It is a study of matter and energy – basically, it is the study of the stuff that makes up the physical world we see and experience around us. It is arguably the broadest of all the sciences (at least, it is the broadest of the big 3 [Phys, Chem and Bio]) and thus encompasses a range of different fields such as mechanics, quantum physics, astrophysics, geophysics, etc.

    So, basically, Physics is the study of how the physical universe works – the magnificently complex universe that we live in. If you’ve ever been interested in learning how and why stuff works/happens (to put it simply), then Physics is for you. The best part: the history of Physics has only just started. Unlike other fields of study where (almost) everything that can possibly be studied has been studied by someone out there, Physics is a constantly evolving field of science, adapting and changing to accommodate newly discovered principles. It was only around 100 years ago that classical Physics got flipped upside down by the new ‘quantum physics’ – who knows what we’ll discover in the future.

    HSC Physics

    Ok, so now let’s have a look at the HSC Physics course. Speaking very generally, HSC Physics is a course that requires two main things from you:

    i. A deep understanding of Physics principles
    ii. A sophisticated knowledge of how these principles apply to real life situations and society

    So, firstly, it requires you to be able to identify important Physics principles and sometimes to know how and why they work. For example, you are required to know that power loss (in the form of heat) in a conductor is due to the resistance that electrons experience while travelling through the conductor, due to collisions with the conductor lattice. But, what’s also important is knowledge of how these principles affect society and how they are used, or minimised, or harnessed, in real life. So, continuing on from the previous example, a top Physics student would also have in-depth knowledge about how power losses during power transmission affect society, and how they are minimised (namely, by using transformers).

    The BOSTES absolutely loves to ask 5-7 markers on the second of these two main ideas (i.e. how Physics principles affect society), so make sure that you DO NOT neglect these areas of the syllabus during your study.

    The HSC Physics course is split into 4 main topics, the first three of which are compulsory and the last of which is an option topic (where you pick an option out of 5 possible options). Typically, students will learn/prepare for the same option topic as their teacher decides to cover in class; personally I would recommend this. This way simply makes the most sense; I do not see the benefit (apart from maybe in a few extreme circumstances) of completely ignoring what your teacher teaches for around 7-10 weeks and attempting to independently learn a completely different option topic. There are some (few) students who believe that it’s worth it to learn 2+ option topics, so that in the exam, they have a choice as to which option topic question they answer (in case one of the options has a particularly difficult question section). This is silly for two reasons: firstly, it’s a waste of hours and hours of study time, learning content which you’re not going to be tested on. Secondly, there is such a thing as option scaling, meaning that if a particular option has a significantly difficult question section in the HSC exam, the marks of the students who complete this section will be scaled upwards. Personally, I studied the option topic From Quanta to Quarks.

    Often, particularly in the third module (From Ideas to Implementation) and also in the option topic From Quanta to Quarks, there is a large focus on the historical context of particular events or situations that were important in the development of Physics. Make sure you don’t skip over these parts while studying – the BOSTES often asks questions worth a lot of marks on these areas of the syllabus. For example, in the From Quanta to Quarks option question in the 2014 HSC paper, there was a 5 marker on the significance of the Manhattan project to society (for those who don’t know, the Manhattan Project was the US project to develop the nuclear bomb in WWII). Also, the history of Physics is often interesting – e.g. the rivalry between Edison & Westinghouse, the disagreement between Crookes & Hertz, the scientific community’s reaction to the Michelson-Morley experiment. All of these examples have fascinating stories behind them, which enhance your learning experience (and are also necessary for you to know anyway).

    Another large component of HSC Physics is calculations. For most exam calculation questions, the mathematics involved is quite simple, especially when considering the fact that the BOSTES provides a formula sheet for students during the exam. However, in a typical HSC exam, there are perhaps 1 or 2 calculation questions which require you to, firstly, deduce which formula (or formulae) to use, and then to creatively manipulate these formulae in order to solve the question successfully. An example of a question like this is question 24(c) from the 2015 HSC exam, which asks you to calculate the velocity of an electron as it reaches the anode, in a setup described in the question. Often in questions like this, several methods can be used; in this particular question, the correct answer can be arrived at by looking at kinetic energy, but also by looking at acceleration and then using one of the projectile motion equations given on the formula sheet. The best way to improve at questions like this is practice – doing many past papers will expose you to lots of different things that they can ask, and will allow you to learn tricks and techniques for answering specific types of difficult calculation questions.

    Exam structure

    The HSC Physics exam lasts for 3 hours, and consists of 2 sections:

    Section I (the ‘core’ section) is worth 75 marks and is comprised of 2 parts: Part A (multiple choice), worth 20 marks, and Part B (short answer), worth 55 marks.

    Section II (the option section) is worth 25 marks and consists of short answer questions (no multiple choice).

    Concerning what order you should do the paper in, personally I recommend going through the paper in a chronological (start to finish) fashion, which is what I did in my HSC. Others may disagree, however; each to their own.

    2) Study skills


    Time management

    There are two main levels in managing your time well: short-term time management, and long-term time management.

    Short-term time management: In order to do really well in the HSC, you need to be able to study in an efficient fashion. Spend your studying time wisely. Remove all distractions and sources of procrastination, and be focused on your work. If your phone is distracting you, turn it off and go put it at the other end of your house. If your computer is distracting you, do the same thing.

    Another important part of short-term time management is to occasionally take breaks. Of course, taking too many breaks will inhibit your studying, but it’s essential that you take short breaks when you need them (perhaps 10-15 minutes per 1.5 or 2 hours of studying, depending upon your personal attention span). Regarding the length of your breaks, how you spend them, and how long you spend studying in between them, be aware that (if you’re a normal human being) you’ll have a tendency to slip out of any time management plans that you might have. The way to fix this problem (which is generally a problem of procrastination) is firstly, to be aware of it, and secondly, to be more rigorous with your scheduling and how you allow yourself to take breaks.

    Also, spend your time studying things that are worth being studied – there’s no real use studying a concept which you’re already confident that you know well. Similarly, it’s not worth spending a huge amount of time studying small and largely irrelevant parts of the syllabus. Don’t get me wrong – the best students in the state know the syllabus inside out, but what I’m saying is, it’s smarter to spend the majority of your time studying the important concepts (which in Physics might be things such as lenz’s law, doping in semiconductors, consequences of special relativity, etc). Do spend some time on those obscure syllabus dot points (such as some of the practical experiments you did in class), but don’t spend more time on them than necessary.

    Long-term time management:
    To put it simply, study consistently and study a lot. Having a consistent routine of studying hard throughout the entire HSC year is ultimately one of the biggest (if not the biggest) factor contributing to the success of the very best students. Of course, while it is much wiser to study smart rather than to simply spend as much time as possible studying, it’s no secret that the best students in the state spend hours and hours each week studying.

    Make sure that you are familiar ASAP with your exam timetables when they come out. This is important as it allows you to know how to best spend the pre-exam-period days/weeks. Also, being familiar with exam timetables will (hopefully) make you less stressed out, because you’ll have a clear perception of exactly when your exams are and what you need to do before then.

    The benefits of being ahead

    In terms of learning content, it’s definitely worth it to be ahead of the rest of your class at school (I would suggest aiming to be around 1 or 2 syllabus pages/sections ahead at all times). There are a few reasons why I think this is important:

    1. As long as you’re consistent with personal study, it means that you’ll never fall behind. Falling behind is not a good situation to be in.

    2. It means that when you have any questions regarding a concept that you’ve attempted to teach yourself, but that you haven’t covered yet in class, you have several weeks to think deeply about the concept, and to ask your teacher about it. This is especially relevant for Physics, given that many of the concepts presented in the syllabus can be quite difficult to learn and understand. For example, during my HSC year, I learnt about the Meissner effect several weeks before we covered it in class. I was quite confused about the fact that different textbooks seemed to present different explanations for the effect. Because I was ahead, I had plenty of time to do some research regarding the correct explanation and what the BOSTES requires you to know about it.

    3. You’ll be covering a given concept twice – once by yourself during your personal study, and later in class. This deepens your understanding of the given concept and cements it in your brain, because the more you go over a particular concept, the easier it becomes to remember in an exam context.

    4. You have more time to go slightly beyond the syllabus. Going a little beyond the syllabus is totally worth it when researching concepts that you may be a bit unsure about; obviously, don’t waste your whole year learning stuff that you won’t be tested on, but pushing a little further than required by the BOSTES can do heaps in helping you understand some of the more difficult concepts in the course. Also, doing extra research can deepen your overall understanding of Physics and allow you to compose more sophisticated responses to questions worth 5+ marks.

    The syllabus

    The syllabus should be the starting point of all your learning and studying. Whenever you need to revise a particular concept, or are learning something new, the syllabus should be the first document which you look at. Why? Remember that literally everything in the exam and in your assessments comes straight from the syllabus (and if not, then, very closely linked to a concept in the syllabus). There’s really no substitute for the syllabus if you’re looking for a comprehensive outline/overview of every single thing you need to know.
    Make sure you pay close attention to the verbs used by the BOSTES in the syllabus dot points, for example, identify, discuss, describe, compare, assess, etc. Each of these verbs has its own specific meaning, for example, the use of the word ‘identify’ means that an explanation behind the concept is not necessary to know, whereas ‘assess’ requires in-depth knowledge, and also requires you to make a judgement. A competent knowledge of the definitions of these words is necessary in being able to understand the syllabus correctly.

    Textbooks


    It is very important to use several sources of information when learning the HSC Physics course. I recommend using several textbooks throughout the year, along with online resources, and of course, information from your teacher. This is because different sources contain different information and focus on different aspects of specific syllabus dot points, meaning that you can form a more cohesive understanding of whatever concept you’re studying if you use more sources.
    In case anyone was wondering, I used the following textbooks/sources throughout my HSC year:

    • Physics In Focus
    • Excel HSC Physics (the old version)
    • The Student’s Guide to HSC Physics

    This list is (of course) not exhaustive; I gained a whole heap of knowledge from my teacher and from online research. However, these three sources were what I based most of my notes off. Speaking of notes…

    Writing notes

    Ok, this is perhaps one area where some other high-achieving students may or may not disagree with me. Nevertheless, I’m going to give my opinion loud and clear.

    In my opinion, it is definitely worth it to write your own set of complete notes for the entire HSC Physics course. There are three main reasons why (at least, these are the reasons that I personally find it a useful thing to do):

    1. First, it forces you to think critically about what you’re learning. i.e., when simply reading a textbook, it’s easy to skim over any information which you don’t fully understand or think may be unimportant. But when you decide to rewrite what’s in the textbook(s) in your own words, you’re forced to consider everything which the textbook has to say, and what all of it means.

    2. Secondly, it allows you to assemble all the important pieces of information from all your textbooks and sources, and have them readily available in one location. This makes it so much easier to revise concepts.

    3. Thirdly, it allows you to practice your writing skills; this idea I will explore more in depth in the next sub-section.

    Here are my answers to some commonly asked questions regarding writing notes:

    “Should I handwrite my notes, or write them digitally?”

    To be honest, this really comes down to personal preference. Personally I preferred having a digital set of notes (in the form of a Word document), because it was easy to access and transport around (i.e. on a USB stick). But, I have heard other high-achievers say that handwritten notes are better (one possible argument being that the HSC exam is handwritten, so, so should your notes be). If you do decide to do digital notes, make sure that you are confident with actually physically drawing diagrams that you may want to include in your notes – I say this because there is the possibility that your diagram-drawing skills may not be up to scratch if you don’t actually practice hand-drawing diagrams. (Note: just to clarify, when I say all of this, I am referring to NOTES, not past papers – always complete past papers with handwritten responses.)

    “How do I know if my notes are good enough?”

    This question is hard to answer, but I’ll give some thoughts. If you’re writing your set of notes:

    • Using several different sources
    • Being detailed where necessary
    • Including all pieces of information that may prove to be useful,

    then I think your notes should be of sufficient standard. Also, realise that your set of notes is simply a tool for your own learning and revision, and so, if your set of notes is allowing you to do that effectively, then they’re (at least) doing their job.

    Practising your writing skills

    A large component of succeeding in Physics is being able to express your knowledge in the correct format that the markers are looking for, which requires an understanding of how to use the correct terminology and how to successfully condense information into small paragraphs. I have a couple of suggestions for how you can improve in this area:

    • Practise! Doing past papers (i.e. practising your writing skills) will dramatically improve your ability to compose succinct (but also detailed where they need to be) exam responses. Looking at the marking criteria and sample answers can help you in this process (but more on that later).
    • When in class, don’t sit around and be the quiet kid who says nothing. Asking questions, explaining concepts to your friends and being an ‘active’ member of the class will improve your ability to express Physics ideas/concepts, and will thus improve your sophistication and clarity when writing exam responses.
    • Reading from a variety of sources will expose you to different ways of expressing particular concepts, and will thus improve your knowledge of how to approach particular styles of exam questions.

    Memorising

    To be honest, most of the stuff in the HSC Physics course requires some level of rote-learning/memorisation (especially in the final two topics, if you do From Quanta to Quarks). There are a few techniques which can be especially helpful in memorising content (some of which I will touch on later):

    • Using acronyms. Here are a couple of examples of acronyms that I personally used to help my memorisation (they’re not great, I know, but they worked for me):
    1. MLANE (for memorising the contribution of Tsiolkovsky to space exploration):
    Multistage rockets
    Liquid fuels (instead of solid)
    Used wind tunnels to study aerodynamics
    Dealt with problems concerning rocket navigation (e.g. heating from air friction)
    Equation: a = (T-mg)/m

    2. AAMDREE (for memorising how to answer a generic 6/7 marker on the Michelson-Morley experiment):
    Aim (to measure the relative velocity of Earth through the aether)
    Aether model (list some of its properties/features)
    Method
    Diagram
    Result (null)
    Evaluation (shock to scientific community, abolishment of aether model)
    Link to Einstein
    Coming up with similar acronyms for yourself can make a massive difference when memorising dry and often boring parts of the course.
    • When trying to memorise a specific concept/idea/thing, make sure to mentally make an effort to store it in your memory, and make sure that you’re focused. This might sound odd/obvious, but, it’s incredibly difficult to memorise things when you’re not 100% focused. (There are some other aspects to, and types of, study which don’t require complete focus; memorisation is not one of them).
    • Use flash cards if they are helpful for you (personally I didn’t use them, but everyone learns in a different way, so it’s worth at least trying them out and seeing if they help you)
    • Recite parts of your notes (if it helps you).
    • Repeatedly handwrite sections of your notes (if it helps you).

    3) Exam preparation


    Past papers

    The best way to practice exam technique is of course past papers: past HSC papers as well as past trial papers from various schools (note: I didn’t actually start doing actual past HSC papers until a couple of months before the final HSC exam; before that, I just did papers from various schools). I’ve been asked several times about what time of year is best to start doing past papers, and how they should be approached. Personally, I think it’s worth getting started doing some past papers if you’ve got an exam coming up – if you’ve got your half-yearly exam coming up (for example), then it’s best to try and find some past half yearly papers from different schools (there are plenty that can be found out there on the internet; many coming from this website). That being said, there are no big problems in going through a trial paper and selecting the questions from the relevant topic (apart from the fact that it’ll become difficult when you try to simulate exam conditions and time yourself doing the paper, but I’ll talk more about that later).

    Perhaps the most important thing to note about past papers is that much of their value (especially when you approach the final weeks/days before the exam) is in the marking process. You must mark your past papers against a strict marking criteria (you could also get them marked by your teacher, if they’re happy to). Being strict while marking your own answers is very important, seeing as HSC markers are also very strict, and can (and will) deduct marks even if just one word is incorrect. Also, it’s important to note that you should always use the marking criteria while marking your own work, not the sample answers. This is because HSC markers use the marking criteria to mark exam responses, and also because sample answers are often imperfect and are sometimes ambiguous in demonstrating exactly what needs to be done to get full marks. (Sample answers aren’t completely worthless though; often they can help show you how specific ideas can be conveyed, and how answers could/should be formatted/structured.)

    After you’ve marked a paper, basically, learn from your mistakes: have a read through the exam again and take note of how or where you went wrong. Have another read through the next day, so that you’ve learnt what mistakes you made, and know not to make the same mistakes again.

    Another common query is whether or not past papers should be completed under exam conditions. From the way I see it, there are benefits/uses to both approaches (exam cond’s vs non exam cond’s):

    Exam conditions allow you to:
    • Practice exam time management skills (i.e. allocating X minutes to Y question, writing at a fairly quick pace)
    • Simulate your upcoming exam
    • Practice your ability to last 3 hours doing an exam

    Non exam conditions allow you to:
    • Focus on writing the best quality answers you can
    • Practice your ability to recall information that you’ve memorised without feeling the pressure of a time limit
    • Complete practice questions even if you’ve not fully completed the whole course/topic that the past paper is on

    Overall, I personally think that when you’re starting out doing past papers, it’s not hugely important to do them under exam conditions, but as you approach your exams, it becomes more and more important to do them under exam conditions. (If you’re still unsure, then just go with exam conditions (instead of non exam conditions).)

    Going over your notes

    Ok, now I’d like to turn you guys onto a specific technique which I personally used in the couple of weeks leading up to my HSC Physics (& Chem) exam. First, after you’ve completed and perfected your notes, go over them very thoroughly. Copy any pieces of information which you’re not 100% confident with (i.e., any pieces of information that you haven’t memorised yet/fully) on to some sheets of paper / a notebook. Then, thoroughly read this new set of notes several times. The next day, go over that new set of notes, and if there’s still some content which you’re not completely confident with, write a new set of notes with all of that content. Repeat this process until you’re confident with every single piece of information that you need to know for the course. Personally I found this technique useful, especially in making sure that there were no obscure syllabus dot points which I completely ignored during my study.

    Being organised (and not cramming)

    This section could have just as easily been part of the ‘time management’ section, but I decided to put it here instead. Basically, BE ORGANISED AND UP TO DATE WITH YOUR EXAM STUDY. Don’t leave study til the last minute. Seriously, don’t. The sort of students who ‘cram’ are the sort of students who don’t do exceptionally well. It’s so much better to do some light study and chill out on the night before a big exam, rather than be frantically cramming until 3am. (Of course, don’t chill out if you don’t feel at all prepared – but hopefully you won’t be in that situation anyway.)

    4) Exam technique


    Spend your time wisely

    During the your trial and HSC exams, you’ve got 3 hours to complete the paper, which at first might seem like a long time, but believe me, it goes very quickly. Thus, you need to spend your time wisely during your exams – don’t spend a long time on questions worth only 1 or 2 marks, and conversely, allocate a fair amount of time on questions worth 6 or 7 marks. Your ability to determine how much time should be spent on a given question will improve as you complete more past papers, along with your ability to actually write your answers quicker. Unfortunately, I can’t give a definite guide to exactly how long you should spend on an X mark question, because it really depends upon a variety of factors (e.g. how confident you are with answering the question, whether a diagram should be included in your answer, etc).

    Multiple choice

    Don’t spend too much of your time on multiple choice questions. Also, make sure you read the question very thoroughly, and several times through. Often in Physics, there are several answers which could potentially be correct. In order to determine the correct answer, careful consideration of the wording of the question is necessary. If you’re still unsure about the answer, highlight the question and come back to it later – it’s not worth wasting your time now, but if you have some extra time at the end of the exam you can think about it again and decide what answer you’ll put down. If you still are unsure, make sure you at least put down an answer by colouring in one of the bubbles – you have a ¼ chance of getting it right, and if you’ve already eliminated 1 or 2 of the answers, then the probability is higher.

    Highlight or underline key words/verbs in the question

    This is fairly self-explanatory. Highlighting/underlining the verbs in the question (e.g. assess, compare, etc) helps you to focus clearly on exactly what you need to do in order to answer the question and (hopefully) get full marks.

    Structure your answers

    • For questions worth 5-8 marks, it is usually helpful to write individual sub-headings for different aspects of the question. Structuring your answer will help both you, and the marker: it makes it much easier for you to think clearly about what information you want to get down onto the page, and it helps the marker to see that you’ve clearly addressed each part of the question. If you address each part successfully, you’ll most likely get full marks, or close to full marks. An example (Q30 from the 2015 HSC Physics exam):
    A good way to answer the question would be to write your response under three subheadings: ‘Launch’, ‘Slingshot’ and ‘Orbit’, and explain how Newton’s Laws apply to each of these concepts. (I did this in the exam, and got full marks for the question.)
    • Doing subheadings is not the only useful way to structure your answer; using tables and dot points can be very useful if carried out correctly. Tables are especially useful when answering 'compare' questions; in fact, I’d suggest using a table for all 'compare' questions unless it’s quite inconvenient and illogical given the specific question.

    Use diagrams

    Diagrams are very useful for demonstrating to the marker that you really know what you’re talking about. They’re also useful in depicting information which might be hard to convey through words. Always annotate your diagrams, using correct terminology. It’s also important to note that there are some specific questions on syllabus dot points that they can ask, which almost always should have a diagram in the answer (at least, in my opinion). These questions include:
    • Newton’s concept of escape velocity
    • Slingshot effect
    • Michelson-Morley experiment
    • Galvanometer or loudspeaker
    • AC induction motor
    • Thomson’s charge/mass ratio experiment
    • Cathode ray oscilloscope
    • Hertz’s experiment
    • Solar cells (but, often they’ll provide a diagram for this)
    • Braggs’ experiment
    • BCS theory

    Writing more than is expected

    Don’t be afraid to write more than is suggested by the ruled lines below the question – feel free to rule some more lines underneath (being careful not to go outside the rectangle boundary outside which the marker can’t read your answer, due to the scanning process that the BOSTES employs). Also, feel free to use extra writing booklets or the pages at the end of your writing booklet. What’s very important is that you only write stuff which is relevant to the question – markers absolutely hate super long answers that don’t answer the question. If you’re answering the question, then that’s great – but just be careful that you aren’t too superfluous with your writing; be succinct. (I’m going to repeat myself for emphasis: do not waste the marker’s time with stuff that isn’t answering the question).

    Calculation tips

    i. Significant figures – unless in some special scenario, answer with the lowest number of significant figures given in the question. For example, if the question gives 2 values, one with 5 significant figures and one with 4, then your answer should be given to 4 significant figures. Personally, in exam calculations, I would always first write the entire answer that the calculator gives with an ellipsis at the end, and then round off that value in the final line of working to the necessary number of significant figures (of course, this only applies if the calculator gives you a value with heaps of decimal places). For example:
    = 27.29725627…
    = 27.30 ms-1 (4 sig fig)
    ii. Rounding off - don’t round off until the end of the question. On your test paper in front of you, write rounded off values while working out, but always use/store exact values in your calculator. Using rounded off values during the process of working out the answer on your calculator will result in your final answer being slightly incorrect, which could end up meaning that you lose one or two marks.
    iii. Units – always remember to include units (& direction if necessary). This is simple, but important.

    5) Final tips and advice


    Be curious about what you’re learning

    Being interested in what you’re learning is one of the biggest factors affecting how much effort you’ll put in, and thus, the results which you’ll end up with. Yes, lots of the stuff in the HSC Physics course is quite dry and boring, and is hard to get excited about. What I’m saying is, have an attitude of curiosity, rather than an attitude of apathy. If something that you learn seems a little odd, or has something about it which doesn’t quite make perfect sense to you, research it, and ask your teacher. Even pushing a little bit beyond the syllabus is good sometimes, because it allows you to form a more cohesive understanding of the whole course. Also, especially for those dry areas of the course, doing a bit of extra reading can (and usually will) enhance and enrich both your knowledge and enjoyment of the course.

    Set goals for yourself

    It’s important throughout the year to have goals for yourself. You should have long-term goals and short-term goals as well. What I mean by this is, you should have an overall aim for the year, such as, “I want to get a band 6”, or something like that. But it’s also important to set yourself small goals throughout your studying, so things such as “by the end of this week I want to have finished learning this syllabus section”.

    Some people have asked me: how high should I aim/set goals for myself? Of course, aiming high will motivate you to try harder to achieve what you want to achieve. However, if you aim too high, then you could become seriously burnt out and demotivated, and lose confidence in yourself. Hence, a balance needs to be found: have high but realistic goals. (This looks different for everyone.)

    Have a positive outlook

    Try not to stress too much. It’s a very difficult skill to learn, but the skill of being able to somewhat ‘switch off’ stress is really useful. Of course, it’s not possible to completely switch off stress, but it’s more a matter of realising that your results do not define you as a person and do not dictate what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life.

    Time for a slightly embarrassing but hopefully helpful anecdote: during the afternoon after my 2nd HSC Chemistry assessment, I suddenly realised that I made a simple but very conspicuous and significant error during the assessment, which had the ability to dramatically lower my mark for that assessment. I was pretty angry at myself for a couple of hours, until I realised that my worrying/stress/anger would not help the situation at all. The mistake was done. There was nothing I could do about it. Accepting this, and also realising that I still had a chance at trying my best in future assessments, allowed me to feel a lot calmer about the situation. It’s this attitude of calmness and positivity that is vital during your HSC year, especially when approaching the final exams, because you'll quickly become burnt out if you don't have this attitude.

    Keep yourself healthy

    Keep yourself physically and mentally healthy throughout the whole HSC year – eat well and exercise. Also, make sure to stay hydrated – while it may seem trivial, being hydrated during study is actually quite important for proper brain function.

    Take breaks if you need them

    This applies both on the small scale and on the large scale. For instance, if you feel like you really need a 10 minute break from studying because you’re unfocused/distracted/tired/etc, then it’s alright to do so. Also, if you’ve been working really hard for weeks/months and feel like you need, say, 3 days away from study in order to recharge your batteries and to refocus on your goals, then it’s alright to do so. On that note, if you fall sick (i.e. virus, common cold, etc) during the year (you most likely will at some stage), then it’s alright to take a few days break in order to recover. Don’t feel like you need to study 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in order to do well in the HSC.

    Well, that wraps it up. I hope this guide is at least slightly helpful to some HSC Physics students out there. Good luck to you all
    Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) @ USYD

  2. #2
    Booty Connoisseur DatAtarLyfe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    HSC
    2016
    Gender
    Female
    Posts
    1,809
    Rep Power
    4

    A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Congratulations on your marks, well deserved. And thanks very much for putting together this guide, we all appreciate it
    I am rather fond of a sizeable Gluteus Maximus and I am incapable of uttering a falsehood

    Quote Originally Posted by Carrotsticks View Post
    I too enjoy sliding up and down smooth vertical poles and creating lots of tension.

  3. #3
    be. Kaido's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    826
    Rep Power
    4

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Give this guy two cookies.
    Enough said.
    Explore the world.
    Join me

    B Commerce (Finance) / B Science @ UNSW

    "If you do all good, and one bad, the good will not be mentioned."

  4. #4
    Loquacious One Drsoccerball's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Undisclosed
    Posts
    3,664
    Rep Power
    6

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaido View Post
    Give this guy two cookies.
    Enough said.
    You savage!

  5. #5
    Ancient Orator leehuan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,812
    Rep Power
    7

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    I've compiled this into a word document (with maybe tiny edits in wording for contents page) for convenience.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9K...ew?usp=sharing

    Disappointingly though the upload screwed up the contents. Apologies for this.

  6. #6
    Hi Φ Green Yoda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    HSC
    2017
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    2,883
    Rep Power
    4

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Great guide, thanks porcupine!
    HSC 2017: 95.05 | School DUX

    WSU Class of 2021
    B Physiotherapy

  7. #7
    New Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    HSC
    2016
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    16
    Rep Power
    3

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    thanks so much!

  8. #8
    Magniloquent Member mreditor16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    HSC
    2014
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    3,185
    Rep Power
    6

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Absolutely fantastic and valuable reading for all hsc physics students - an outstanding guide!
    Quote Originally Posted by Carrotsticks View Post
    cos I'm thirsty af always
    Quote Originally Posted by teridax View Post
    +1 BoS went to a whole new level of stupid.

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    HSC
    2013
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    105
    Rep Power
    5

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    can confirm this works.
    Great guide!

  10. #10
    Ancient Orator
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    HSC
    N/A
    Gender
    Undisclosed
    Location
    Space
    Posts
    4,156
    Rep Power
    5

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Mate you are an absolute legend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!

  11. #11
    The pessimistic optimist. BLIT2014's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    HSC
    2014
    Uni Grad
    2018
    Gender
    Undisclosed
    Location
    In my head
    Posts
    10,299
    Rep Power
    11

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Awesome resource
    l’appel du vide


    Got 1-2 minutes ? Please do my survey :P https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8ZPYZSD
    Moderator of Macquarie University

  12. #12
    Executive Member Ekman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    1,618
    Rep Power
    4

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    +1. Awesome guide from the physics extraordinaire himself!
    Current Status: Ceasefire with HSC


  13. #13
    New Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    HSC
    2016
    Gender
    Undisclosed
    Posts
    8
    Rep Power
    3

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Thanks Boss! Not to challenge your degree choice, but why achieve a high ATAR and opt for something as standard as maths? What career options are available if it's not applied maths?

  14. #14
    Ancient Orator leehuan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,812
    Rep Power
    7

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Quote Originally Posted by 2016boi View Post
    Thanks Boss! Not to challenge your degree choice, but why achieve a high ATAR and opt for something as standard as maths? What career options are available if it's not applied maths?
    Quote Originally Posted by RealiseNothing View Post
    Where can you go with pure maths? Almost anywhere really. You could do research in academia, work for a quantitative trading company (or just finance in general really), work in meteorology and oceanology, become a teacher (a masters in education required though), heaps of options.
    Excuse me. In truth, pure maths opens up a WIDE variety of career pathways.

    And the pathways for statistics are obvious.

    That and the cutoff is 98 at USyd.
    Last edited by leehuan; 29 Jan 2016 at 9:02 PM.
    porcupinetree likes this.

  15. #15
    not actually a porcupine porcupinetree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    666
    Rep Power
    3

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Quote Originally Posted by 2016boi View Post
    Thanks Boss! Not to challenge your degree choice, but why achieve a high ATAR and opt for something as standard as maths? What career options are available if it's not applied maths?
    For the sake of keeping this thread dedicated to Physics, I'll pm you
    Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) @ USYD

  16. #16
    -insert title here- Paradoxica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    HSC
    2016
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Outside reality
    Posts
    2,456
    Rep Power
    5

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Quote Originally Posted by leehuan View Post
    Excuse me. In truth, pure maths opens up a WIDE variety of career pathways.

    And the pathways for statistics are obvious.

    That and the cutoff is 98 at USyd.
    Yes, I find it that virtually nobody in my cohort understands the choice for mathematics. Most of them are after the culturally stigmatised prestige that comes from med, law, dent.

    Unless you actually enjoy doing those things, enjoy your meaningless materialistic life.
    If I am a conic section, then my e = ∞

    Just so we don't have this discussion in the future, my definition of the natural numbers includes 0.

  17. #17
    Senior Member sida1049's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    752
    Rep Power
    4

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Quote Originally Posted by Paradoxica View Post
    Yes, I find it that virtually nobody in my cohort understands the choice for mathematics. Most of them are after the culturally stigmatised prestige that comes from med, law, dent.

    Unless you actually enjoy doing those things, enjoy your meaningless materialistic life.
    One of the truest and most understated principles there are.

    Some dude in my cohort condescends people doing science and psychology as being jobless, and enrolled into applied finance, quite literally in his words, purely "in for the money". At some point in the future he'll realise that he spends the majority of his waking life doing shit that he can't stomach. No amount of money you can bathe yourself in will mend that giant, empty hole in you, buddy.
    Paradoxica likes this.

    Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) III, USYD

  18. #18
    Hi Φ Green Yoda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    HSC
    2017
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    2,883
    Rep Power
    4

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Bump
    HSC 2017: 95.05 | School DUX

    WSU Class of 2021
    B Physiotherapy

  19. #19
    -insert title here- Paradoxica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    HSC
    2016
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Outside reality
    Posts
    2,456
    Rep Power
    5

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Quote Originally Posted by sida1049 View Post
    One of the truest and most understated principles there are.

    Some dude in my cohort condescends people doing science and psychology as being jobless, and enrolled into applied finance, quite literally in his words, purely "in for the money". At some point in the future he'll realise that he spends the majority of his waking life doing shit that he can't stomach. No amount of money you can bathe yourself in will mend that giant, empty hole in you, buddy.
    It seems he has been indoctrinated by his parents and their materialistic cravings, there is no saving him. This toxic culture of money over happiness cannot (and will not) last. As a person with long-term depression, that perspective is (almost) literally the worst thing you can give to yourself in terms of your mentality.
    sida1049 likes this.
    If I am a conic section, then my e = ∞

    Just so we don't have this discussion in the future, my definition of the natural numbers includes 0.

  20. #20
    Hi Φ Green Yoda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    HSC
    2017
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    2,883
    Rep Power
    4

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    bump
    HSC 2017: 95.05 | School DUX

    WSU Class of 2021
    B Physiotherapy

  21. #21
    Cole World Nailgun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    HSC
    2016
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    2,209
    Rep Power
    5

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rathin View Post
    bump
    It's a sticky lol, don't need no bumps
    Veni, Vidi, Vici

  22. #22
    Ancient Orator leehuan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    HSC
    2015
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,812
    Rep Power
    7

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Oh thank goodness this got stickied.
    Nailgun likes this.

  23. #23
    Hi Φ Green Yoda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    HSC
    2017
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    2,883
    Rep Power
    4

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nailgun View Post
    It's a sticky lol, don't need no bumps
    did not see the sticky..
    HSC 2017: 95.05 | School DUX

    WSU Class of 2021
    B Physiotherapy

  24. #24
    New Member Destan's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2016
    HSC
    2018
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    20
    Rep Power
    2

    Re: A state ranker's guide to HSC Physics (by porcupinetree)

    This thread is amazing, thanks for outlining the main essentials and tips needed for succession in the HSC for Physics.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •