Thursday, December 24, 2015

A-Level Physics (9702) | Skills to be tested?

  • A-Level Physics (9702) | Skills to be tested?



The Cambridge examinations for A-Level Physics (9702) would require of the candidates a proper level in different skills. This post provides some details about these skills.

The areas of knowledge and skills are called assessment objectives.

  • The theory papers (paper 1, 2 and 4) test mainly AO1 (Knowledge with understanding) and AO2 (Handling, applying and evaluating information).
  • The practical papers (paper 3 and 5) are used to test you on the AO3 (Experimental skills and investigations).



Let us now look further into each of these skills.

AO1 (Knowledge with understanding)
Questions testing these objectives will often begin questions with one of the following words: Define, State, Describe, Explain

You should demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Scientific phenomena
  • Facts
  • Laws
  • Definitions
  • Concepts
  • Theories



  • Scientific vocabulary
  • Terminology
  • Conventions (including symbols, quantities and units)


  • Scientific instruments and apparatus, including techniques of operation and aspects of safety

  • Scientific quantities and their determination

  • Scientific and technological applications with their social, economic and environmental implications



AO2 (Handling, applying and evaluating information)
Questions testing these objectives will often begin questions with one of the following words: Predict, Suggest, Deduce, Calculate, Determine

You should be able, in words or by using written, symbolic, graphical and numerical forms of presentation, to:
  • Locate information from a variety of sources
  • Select information from a variety of sources
  • Organise information from a variety of sources
  • Present information from a variety of sources

  • Translate information from one form to another

  • Manipulate numerical and other data

  • Use information to identify
– patterns
– report trends
– draw inferences
– report conclusions

  • Present reasoned explanations for
– phenomena
– patterns
– relationships

  • Make predictions and put forward hypotheses

  • Apply knowledge, including principles, to new situations

  • Evaluate information and hypotheses

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the limitations of physical theories and models



AO3 (Experimental skills and investigations)
Experimental skills are tested in Paper 3 and Paper 5.

You should be able to:
  • plan experiments and investigations
  • collect, record and present observations, measurements and estimates
  • analyse and interpret data to reach conclusions
  • evaluate methods and quality of data, and suggest improvements



The table below gives a general idea of the allocation of marks to the assessment objectives across the whole assessment, though the balance on each paper may vary slightly.

Assessment objective                         Marks allocated
AO1 (Papers 1, 2 and 4)                                 37%
AO2 (Papers 1, 2 and 4)                                 40%
AO3 (Papers 3 and 5)                                     23%






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