Archive for 1979

An O-level Physics Examination Paper, Vintage 1979

Posted in Education with tags , , , , on August 30, 2011 by telescoper

My recent post about the O-level Mathematics examination I took way back in 1979 seems to have generated quite a lot of comment, both here and elsewhere, so I thought I’d follow it up with a Physics examination paper to see what people think about that.

One complication with this is that I didn’t actually take Physics O-level; the School I went to preferred to offer Combined Science instead. This examination covered a general syllabus including Physics, Chemistry and Biology but was worth two O-levels rather than three. More or less, therefore, I did 2/3 of a Physics O-level.

I think the reason for choosing Combined Science rather than three separate subjects was to allow us kids the chance to take as broad a range of subjects as possible. In fact I did ten O-levels: Combined Science (2); Mathematics; Additional Mathematics; History; Geography; English Literature; English Language; French; and Latin. My best mark at O-level was in neither mathematics nor science subjects, actually, but in Latin…

Anyway, the examination for Combined Science consisted of four papers. Paper 1 was a general paper with a range of short questions in a booklet into which candidates had to write their answers in the space provided. Obviously I don’t have this paper because I handed it in. The three other papers were each on one of the main subjects and Paper 2, shown below, was the Physics paper.

This also gives me the opportunity to try out slideshare as a better way of displaying the paper than the clumsy method of photographing it on my desk I used for the Mathematics paper.  Unfortunately our temperamental scanner – which is rapidly becoming my arch enemy – seems to have missed some of the question numbers, so I put them in by hand.

The first thing that struck me about Question 5 is “During an experiment a boy obtained…”. Girls don’t do physics, obviously.

Any other comments or comparison with GCSE Physics papers should be written in the space provided.  Write clearly and legibly, and show clearly the reasoning by which you arrive at your conclusions. You may begin.