O level Physics and Chemistry Exam Assessment

Many students find Physics and Chemistry exams tough and that is the reason why schools traditionally select only A classes only to do subjects such as chemistry, biology and physics. However anyone can do sciences. This guide will help you if you want to pass the exams.

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Assessment Objectives

The following is a list of aspects that are assessed in Ordinary Level Physics and Chemistry exams:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of the facts and concepts described
    in the syllabus objectives.
  2. Use of your knowledge and understanding to tackle problems that involve unfamiliar contexts or data. This aspect of the exam requires you to think to answer these questions, not just to remember! You will need to develop a confident and scientific way of thinking in order to tackle this aspect of the exam. Background reading usually help in this area when practising for exams.
  3. Your ability to do practical experiments. It is most important that you should have plenty of opportunity to do practical work in a laboratory. Video and audio materials should be used for experiments that cannot be performed within the scope of the learning institute. As a leaner, you should have an understanding on how to plan an experiment.

Examination papers

The O level exam consists of three papers:

  • Paper 1 Multiple choice
  • Paper 2 Structured questions (Theory)
  • Paper 3 Practical Skills (Experiments)

Paper 1

Paper 1 is made up 40 multiple-choice questions, each question giving you a single mark per correct answer. Paper 1 exam duration is 1 hour of which I would recommend answering it at a rate of one question per minute and then using the time left over to go
back through the questions again.


Physics paper 1 sample question

Paper 2

Paper 2 is made up of 12 structured questions with spaces for you to write your answers on the question paper. A blank area is also usually given for your calculations where necessary. For numerical questions, the unit may or may not be given at the end of your answer space. If no unit is given, you must provide it.

The duration of this exam is 2 hours and it is split into two sections, Section A where you answer all questions and Section B where you answer any three questions of your choice.


Paper 2 sample question physics

Paper 3

Paper 3 is made up of 2 practical examination questions which you will work in a laboratory. You write your answers on lines provided in the question paper or in the blank areas provided for tables and numerical work.

The duration of this exam is 2 hours and you answer all questions.
For each of the questions, you are expected to record all your observations as soon as these observations are made.


Physics paper 3 sample question

The examination

Once in the examination room, stop worrying about whether or not you have done enough revision. It only leads to panic. Concentrate on making the best use of the knowledge, understanding and skills that you have have gained throughout the course.

Read the question carefully

You would be surprised at the large number of candidates who lose marks by not reading the question carefully. Never make assumptions. Important information needed to answer the question is often given at the start of the question. Always remember, if it is there it is probably needed.

Depth of answer

There are two useful guidelines about how much you need to write.

  • The number of marks given on the question. Usually the number of marks given is related to the number of relevant pieces of information required. For example if the question requires the uses of sulphuric acid and there are 4 marks given, it usually means that 4 uses are required.

There are questions like, "Define photosynthesis." The 3 marks usually given there are for: the raw materials, the conditions, the products. All should be mentioned in the definition.

However, no natter how long your answer is, only the relevant information will score you marks, so avoid writing the same thing several times over in different words.

  • The number of lines allocated to the answering space is another useful guideline on how much to write.

Sydney Chako

Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics teacher at Sytech Learning Academy. From Junior Secondary School to Tertiary Level Engineering Mathematics and Engineering Science.


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