The Year 12 Physics syllabus (referred to as Physics Stage 6 Syllabus by NESA) contains key information about the requirements in the Physics course.
The Physics syllabus is a large document and most students find it intimidating. I often find that students don’t read the syllabus until a few weeks before their HSC exam, upon discovering that the inquiry questions from the syllabus were used in their trial exams.
The Physics syllabus provides students with direction to better align their study efforts.
In this article, we discuss the most important and relevant elements of the Year 12 Physics syllabus:
Let’s discuss each syllabus element and gain a better understanding of what’s expected in the Physics course.
Having a clear understanding of the Year 12 Physics syllabus will give you the ability to anticipate your teacher’s intentions for assessments.
The course structure and requirements provide an outline of components of the course including:
The course structure for Year 11 and Year 12 Physics courses are shown below.
Year 11 Physics Course Structure
Year 12 Physics Course Structure
Knowing the course structure and requirements provide students with the visibility and predictability for the Physics course. It gives you an idea of the order of modules taught as well as the emphasis placed on different parts of the course requirements.
For example, practical investigations are an important part of the course requirement. The syllabus states:
Practical investigations are an essential part of the Year 11 & 12 course and must occupy a minimum of 35 hours of course time, including time allocated to practical investigations in depth studies.
The course content defines what students are expected to know and do as they work towards syllabus outcomes. It consists of:
A part of the Year 12 Physics course content on the topic ‘Projectile Motion’ from Module 5 illustrates this structure.
|Topic: Projectile Motion|
Inquiry question: How can models that are used to explain projectile motion be used to analyse and make predictions?
You should take the time to read the entire Physics course content.
The course content provides students with learning expectations in the HSC Physics Exam. It provides a rough framework for what questions will be asked.
Inquiry questions can be used as exam questions by teachers.
2019 HSC Physics Q22 shown below is derived from the following syllabus reference:
Module: The Nature of Light
Topic: Electromagnetic Spectrum
Inquiry question: What is light?
Students: Investigate how the spectra of stars can provide information on:
|2019 HSC Physics Exam|
A depth study is any type of investigation/activity that a student completes individually or collaboratively that allows the further development of one or more concepts found within or inspired by the syllabus. It may be one investigation/activity or a series of investigations/activities.
The requirements for depth studies are:
Source: NESA Website: Physics Stage 6 Syllabus
All students must undertake a depth study as part of their Year 12 Physics course.
Most depth studies will be a practical investigation and will have a weighting of minimum 20% of your overall assessments.
Understanding the requirements for a depth study is critical to success in your assessments.
Read this article to learn how to write a depth study report.
Performance band descriptions provide a list of competencies that a student must demonstrate in order to qualify for a performance band:
They contain insightful competency descriptors regarding the knowledge, understanding and skills you are expected to demonstrate.
|Band 6 Performance Description in Year 12 Physics course is outlined below.|
Performance band descriptions provide students with clarity on the depth of knowledge and understanding as well as other skills required to quality for different performance band.
To determine your performance band, you’ll be assessed on all of the competencies during the course.
For example, one of the band 6 performance requirements are that you must demonstrate extensive (not thorough which is Band 5) knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts.
4 actionable tips that you can apply to your learning are outlined below.
This will give you the visibility and predictability of the learning expectations in the Physics course. Despite the modules being numbered, some schools are teaching the physics in a different order. For example some schools start the Year 12 Physics course with module 6 Electromagnetism rather than module 5 Advanced Mechanics.
If you have a research task on a topic/module you haven’t learned at school, you’ll find Learnable very useful resource for this purpose as each topic is covered thoroughly.
Practical investigations are compulsory and weigh up tp 60% of your overall school assessment mark. To ace your practical assessments, it is critical that you are highly competent in demonstrating the scientific skills required for planning and conducting practical investigations.
Read this article to learn how to plan and conduct practical investigations.
Course content is a useful reference for checking your depth of knowledge. You can use a table like the one below as a checklist to identify knowledge gaps for each topic. The ratings for your depth of knowledge can be:
Topic: Circular Motion
|Syllabus||Detail||Depth of Knowledge|
|Inquiry question||Why do objects move in circles?||Competent|
|Students:||Conduct investigations to explain and evaluate, for objects executing uniform circular motion, the relationships that exist between:||Competent|
|Students:||Analyse the forces acting on an object executing uniform circular motion in a variety of situations, for example:||Needs improvement|
|Students:||Investigate the relationship between the total energy and work done on an object executing uniform circular motion||Developing|
Any syllabus reference points with a qualitative rating of needs improvement or developing are classified as knowledge gaps and will require additional work.
Use band 6 performance descriptions as a litmus test to assess your exam-readiness.
Read this article to learn how to apply the scientific method to design, conduct, and analyse any Physics practical investigation.
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