Straight to the Top: How to Get a 9 in GCSE Physics

Written by Dr John Adam for Medic Mind

Another straight to the top blog – how do we keep churning them out? Today we’re talking about how you can get the very best grade in your GCSE physics exam. Remember, no matter what advice is in this blog the best possible thing to do is keep working away and remember you’re doing great!

Top 5 tips to get a grade 9

  1. Use formulae better
  2. Try the information for teachers
  3. Work in a group
  4. Use past papers better
  5. Take an interest

1. Use formulae better

Most exam boards will give you a formula sheet and you’ll be able to remember the ones that aren’t on it. That much is easy and you’ll have been told it from day 1. Here’s how you use formulae even better to get extra marks, and you don’t always have to get the right answer to take advantage!

Make sure you’re always writing your answers out the same way so you can get the marks for working even if the answer itself is wrong. You should write in this order:

  1. Recall the formula. Copy it out at the top. 
  2. Substitute numbers in. 
  3. Rearrange if necessary and finish the calculation. 
  4. Check your units religiously – even the best students risk falling into unit traps. 
  5. Check significant figures. It’s no good being 100% on it with the maths if you give the wrong number of these. 
Access 20 Free GCSE Physics Tutorials

    2. Try the information for teachers

    This is information available on most examination board websites, which is designed to make sure teachers fully understand the mark schemes and how best to teach. Because it’s aimed at teachers who understand the topic incredibly well, it focuses on the stuff that might drop marks which aren’t related to the topic itself.

    For instance, on the AQA website there’s a ‘common mistakes’ booklet which gives loads of amazing examples of where otherwise talented students lost marks. If you’re looking for the grade 9, you can’t let yourself get caught making any of these mistakes because they are easy marks!

    3. Work in a group

    Working with your friends has a whole lot of advantages. Firstly, you keep each other accountable so it isn’t as easy to get distracted. Second, you can actually cover more ground as a group. Let’s say you have 3 topics to revise. Either you could review them all yourself or you could get 2 friends, then each cover 1 of the topics. Afterwards, you could teach it to each other. This benefits you because it lets you get some practice teaching as well, which is a sure-fire way to improve. 

    The other thing to remember is to not be scared of seeking help from your friends and classmates early on. They might be able to help because they’re in the same position as you, and if they can’t then the teacher may not have explained it well enough! If everyone in the class had the mindset of talking to each other, everyone would improve much quicker. 

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    4. Use past papers better

    Using past papers is obvious, it’s been drilled into us from day 1. The difference is how those students getting grade 9 use the past papers, here are the important points.

    • Review your mistakes and your successes. Just because you got a question right does not mean there’s nothing to be learned. Could you have done it faster, did you sufficiently show your working, even did it highlight something you weren’t sure about and had to guess? All of these can be avenues to improve your score next time.
    • Make notes on the mark schemes. There are common threads running through mark schemes of things that you will gain marks for. Think about it, if you find yourself in the middle of the exam without an answer, but you remember the workings that marks have been awarded for in the past, you can make sure you pick some of these marks up. Recognising these patterns can go an awfully long way. 
    • Do the papers more than once. Just because you’re not seeing them blind doesn’t mean there’s no value. If you can achieve 100% in a past paper, you know you’ll have reviewed it a lot and really understood the concepts from it. 

    5. Take an interest

    Finally, this is the big point separating the top grades from the lower. The grade 9 is there to distinguish students who don’t just follow the mark scheme and syllabus, it’s for those who really know their stuff. One of the best ways to make this sort of progress is to get into the subject and there are plenty of good sources for that. 

    More traditional places are things like New Scientist magazine which is, of course, easily accessible online. YouTube channels can be great and cover really interesting topics from astrophysics to diving physics. It doesn’t really matter what you decide to go for as long as you’re taking an interest, and thinking about how these subjects link to the curriculum you’re studying.


    →What is GCSE Physics?

    GCSE Physics is a secondary school qualification awarded in the UK for students who have completed a course in Physics at the GCSE level.

    →What is a 9 in GCSE Physics?

    A 9 in GCSE Physics is the highest possible grade that can be achieved in the subject. It is awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.

    →What are the key topics in GCSE Physics?

    The key topics in GCSE Physics include energy, electricity, particles, waves, mechanics, and the study of matter and its interactions with each other and the environment.

    →What study techniques are most effective for GCSE Physics?

    Effective study techniques for GCSE Physics include active learning, such as creating and reviewing flashcards, summarising information in your own words, and teaching others. Regular revision and testing yourself through practice questions is also important.

    →How can I improve my exam technique for GCSE Physics?

    To improve your exam technique for GCSE Physics, you should practice past papers and other resources to become familiar with the format and types of questions that may be asked. You should also ensure you manage your time effectively during the exam and answer all questions thoroughly.

    →What support is available if I am struggling with GCSE Physics?

    If you are struggling with GCSE Physics, there are a range of support options available to you, including speaking to your teacher, joining a study group or seeking additional tutoring. You can also find resources online or at your local library to help you improve your understanding of the subject.

    →How hard is it to get a 9 at GCSE Physics?

    Getting a 9 in GCSE Physics can be challenging, as it requires a strong understanding of the subject matter, good study habits, and effective exam technique. However, with dedication, hard work, and support from teachers and resources, it is possible to achieve a 9 in GCSE Physics. It is important to note that everyone’s abilities and circumstances are different, so what is considered challenging for one person may not be for another. Ultimately, it depends on individual factors such as motivation, learning style, and study habits.

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