This blog will be a little strange because it is based upon giving some thoughts and advice to students, while they are in the middle of their exams – and this is really not a time when they should be reading blogs!  But whatever, you never know, it might be useful.

In addressing physics students I hope you are not too stressed over the physics papers this year, but I suspect that is a vague hope that is probably not true.  For most students there were a couple of real problems with the exams:

  1. The style of the papers (especially P1 and P2) were different – not necessarily worse, just different.  And this difference raised the stress levels.
  2. The sample papers did not seem to be a good preparation for the actual papers sat.
  3. P2 was a nightmare – so hard that it will have ‘hurt’ most students.
  4. P3 was fine or not, depending on which topic area you took.

OK, I suspect that most students of physics are not feeling too good about the exams at the moment.  But this not the time to get stressed about it, for the following reasons:

  1. The exams are all looked at, over the whole distribution of the results.  If the papers were hard, then this will clearly be seen because the results will be depressed. The grade boundaries will then be lower.
  2. Your result rarely depends on one paper – it often relies on the combination of how you do. So if one of the papers was poor, don’t lose hope.
  3. There is a practical side to this whole thing which is … there is nothing you can do about it now! So stop fretting and get on with the rest of your exams.

I know the last point sounds a little harsh but it is the truth.  Whatever has happened has happened.  If you have done poorly, you will honestly not know until the results come out. But if you panic and stress over it, then it will certainly affect your focus and concentration while you revise for the rest of your exams.  It will also affect your sleep patterns and that it REALLY NOT GOOD.  The poor exams then run the risk of becoming a major disaster for you because you allow a poor exam to affect all your other exams – and that of course, would be crazy.

I notice on the web, that there are quite a few students complaining that their teachers had taught them the old syllabus and not the new one.  And this has had an effect and their ability to answer some of the questions.  If this is correct, then I think that unfortunately, this is probably correct – it will affect you.  But as above, there is nothing that can come of worrying over this at the moment.  Your top priority is to get on with it.  Make yourself as strong as you can be for the next exams.  After it is all over, go and chat through this with your teacher – it may well be that you are not quite seeing properly what they have done, or there may be a genuine mistake made – remember, we all make mistakes.  Although it would be little consolation, there was also a responsibility on students to check the syllabus – maybe not as you were being taught it, but as you revise.  So chat to the teacher and try to put your worries into context – it is highly likely that any small omissions that might have happened will not be significant to the overall grade.

So my advice is very simply – forget it now – move on and focus yourself completely on the next exams.  Make sure you eat and sleep well and keep working hard – there is nothing else you can do.  And if your results do come out strange in the end, then contact your teacher again, for more advice on whether remarks might be worth it.  We will discuss this in the next blog.

Take care and I wish you continued good luck.