Beginner’s Guide to Year 11 Physics

Struggling to get your head around Physics? Don't worry, our Beginner's Guide to Year 11 Physics will help you through the 4 Modules so you don't have to hit panic buttons.

Struggling with Year 11 Physics? Don’t worry, Matrix is here to help. In this Beginner’s Guide to Year 11 Physics, we’ll give you a clear run-through of the 4 Modules you need to ace.


All about the Beginner’s Guide to Year 11 Physics

Year 11 Physics is the final frontier for Physics students!

You will apply the techniques and concepts learned in Year 10 to more complex problems, and learn about several new fields – kinematics, dynamics, waves and thermodynamics, and electricity and magnetism. These subjects will be the foundation of what you learn in Year 12.

At the end of Year 11, in Term 3, students will sit a yearly exam which will contain material from the entire years’ study – it is important that students are confident in every single area!

We’ve written the Beginner’s Guide to Year 11 Physics for you as an overview of the core concepts and methods of the Year 11 syllabus.


What’s in this Guide

This Guide will go through each of the four core modules of Year 11 Physics:

1. Kinematics

  1. Motion in a straight line
  2. Motion on a plane

2. Dynamics

  1. Forces
  2. Forces, Acceleration, and Energy
  3. Momentum, Energy, and Simple Systems

3. Waves and Thermodynamics

  1. Wave properties
  2. Wave behaviour
  3. Sound Waves
  4. Ray Model of Light
  5. Thermodynamics

4. Electricity and Magnetism

  1. Electrostatics
  2. Electric Circuits
  3. Magnetism

What’s different about Year 11?

While everyone learns some broad basics of science up to Year 10, students who choose one or more science subjects for Year 11 and 12 will gain a much deeper understanding – not only getting to grips with laws and theories, but making hands-on observations and exploring open-ended questions.

This more detailed study means that you will also be held to higher standards when responding to questions and assessment tasks. Some of the skills you must develop are:

  • Being careful with quantities and units. You can do a calculation perfectly but still lose marks for missing or incorrect units, or an inappropriate number of significant figures. You must also become comfortable converting between different units.
  • Designing and carrying out experiments. You must learn how to construct (and improve!) methods of data collection to ensure your measurements are accurate, reliable and valid. You must also be able to present your results in various formats including written reports.
  • Drawing and interpreting graphs. You have had plenty of experience plotting data; now we focus on the information that can be obtained from the graph. This means you will be drawing lines of best fit, finding the gradient and intercepts of a graph, and using the results to make a calculation.
  • Applying your knowledge in unfamiliar situations. While many exam questions will be predictable, you may be presented with a problem you have never seen before and must figure out what knowledge is relevant to solving it.
  • Understanding how different areas of Physics relate to each other. There is a large amount of content in the Year 11 and 12 courses, but if you understand the underlying principles such as forces and energy, you can remember what you need more effectively.


What are some common student issues?

  • Students who are not confident in Year 11 modules – particularly Dynamics and Electricity and Magnetism – will have a lot of trouble in the first two modules of year 12.
  • Students rote learn specific scenarios instead of learning the laws of physics and how to apply them. This is a particular problem in Electricity and magnetism.
  • Students are not confident combining different types of calculations: They can perform more simple work, but can’t answer the longer questions in exams.
  • Students have trouble understanding some of the more complex concepts in Year 12, like the Quantum model of the atom or Special Relativity.
  • Students poorly explain physics concepts that they correctly understand, or don’t make explicit reference to the relevant laws of physics in their written answers.

What can I expect in my assessments?

You will continue to do written exams involving multiple-choice, short answer and some long response questions. These will range in difficulty from simply quoting a law of Physics, to performing a calculation, to analysing how important discoveries have led to our current understanding of the world. Some questions will be formulaic, only requiring you to go through a familiar process. Others will require you to apply your knowledge to a new scenario.

‘Working scientifically’ is a major area of assessment. This may involve doing research, performing experiments, or analysing someone else’s methods and data. Being a scientist is not just about knowing facts – it is about knowing how to ask new questions and how to answer them. You will have an opportunity to develop these skills further with your Depth Study, where you must take more responsibility for your own learning, but have the opportunity to explore an interesting topic in return.


What about Depth Studies?

The depth study is an in-depth investigation of one aspect of the Year 11 Physics Syllabus and will involve students learning concepts and methods that are not explicitly covered in learning materials.

Students will be judged on their ability to work scientifically:

  • How well you plan and conduct your investigation
  • Data gathering and processing
  • Analysis and understanding, and
  • the thoroughness of your research.

Remember, this Beginner’s Guide is just that – a guide for beginners! Students will need to do their own work beyond this guide to develop the requisite understanding for the Depth Study. If you want help with Physics practical skills, you should read our Beginner’s Guide to Physics Practical Skills.

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