Physics » GCSE

How to Tutor Physics GCSE

Posted 4 days ago by Alice Farrell

Many GCSE students feel nervous when it comes to studying Physics. With its unfamiliar concepts and abstract ideas, Physics can be daunting. My job as a tutor is to show students that Physics is not at as difficult as they might think. I aim to show them that it is a fascinating subject, and hope to convey how exciting it can be to learn the laws of our universe.

Preparing for your first lesson

Understand your student’s academic requirements

It is important to be aware of your student’s existing level of knowledge. Try to establish which tier paper they are going to be sitting, which exam specification their school uses, and how much content they have already covered in school. This will allow you to tailor your sessions to your student’s needs.

It is important to be aware of your student’s existing level of knowledge. Try to establish which tier paper they are going to be sitting, which exam specification their school uses, and how much content they have already covered in school.

Identify areas of difficulty

Before making a long-term teaching plan, ask your student which topics they find difficult. If you are unable to find out what they struggle with before the lesson, ask at the start of the first session. If they have covered a lot of the content in school already, your student may be able to pinpoint specific areas they find difficult. However, if your student is yet to cover a lot of content, they will probably be unable to specify problem areas. If the latter is the case, I would suggest approaching the lesson with the intention of instilling a basic understanding of the exam content.

Structure the lesson accordingly

Tutoring Physics requires structure – knowledge builds upon existing knowledge. To ensure success, make sure your lessons follow a plan so that your student can keep track of the ideas you are teaching.

This is how I would normally structure my first lesson:

  • Introduction

    Using my knowledge of the student’s academic abilities and the specific areas they struggle with, I begin the session by outlining the topics we plan to cover. I also use the first few minutes to discuss the aims of the session (e.g. answering exam questions or confidently manipulating equations), and to check that my student is happy with this. I also ask if they have any questions about MyTutor in general

  • Main content

    I go through the main content of the session in an engaging way, using text, diagrams and images throughout

  • Check understanding

    I ask short questions as I’m teaching to ensure the student is engaged and that they are understanding the content throughout

  • Consolidation

    At the end of the lesson, I aim to consolidate my student’s learning by asking them to complete relevant exam questions. We then mark their answers together using the mark scheme, so they can see how well they performed and gain an understanding of what the exam board are looking for in their answers

Resources

Using good diagrams is a huge help when it comes to explaining topics in Physics. With a diagram, it is much easier to talk through content and maintain your student’s focus. The session becomes more interactive, and you can ask your student to annotate or label parts of the image too. The BBC Bitesize website has clear and effective diagrams that I find useful to illustrate concepts to my students:

With regards to planning and structuring lessons, the exam board website is a really useful resource. On here you can find the exam specification, which can be used to identify relevant content and the required depth of knowledge, and past papers. I firmly believe that practicing past paper questions is an essential part of GCSE revision. GCSEs will often be the first time students encounter formal exams, so it is of utmost importance to familiarize students with past papers

Exam board websites are easy to navigate, here are the links to some of the common ones:

FAQs

I don’t get it

The concepts in Physics are often tricky, but I perseverance is key; concepts sometimes need to be talked through a few times for them to make sense. However, if your student is really struggling to understand a topic, I would suggest adapting your approach. You could use a different example, or if this doesn’t work go back to the drawing board and lay down the foundation knowledge once more. As I said earlier, the foundations are built on bit by bit in Physics, so if a student is not grasping a topic, it may be due to gaps in their prior knowledge.

The concepts in Physics are often tricky, but I perseverance is key; concepts sometimes need to be talked through a few times for them to make sense.

A topic students often struggle with is heat transfer, more specifically convection. Convection currents lead to a cyclical loop of energy transfer, with the density of the substance playing an important role in causing the rise and fall of the particles involved. Students sometimes miss the link between convection and density of particles, and therefore don’t understand why convection occurs. I address this by reviewing the concepts of heat transfer and density using a diagram, and then explain it using different examples so my student understands the idea in different contexts – this helps to make their knowledge transferrable.

But I can’t do maths

Physics GCSE often requires the use of equations, so it’s important to ensure that students are confident in their mathematical abilities. The best way to help a student become more comfortable with equations is to practice. Again, past paper questions are very useful here. You can present students with questions involving a range of contexts, and use these to guide them through any mathematical difficulties they face.

Why I love tutoring

I love teaching Physics because it involves understanding the fundamentals of nature, and I enjoy seeing my students grow to appreciate all that it has to offer. It is fantastic when a student not only understands a concept, but can even explain it back to me!

Written by - Yasmin Abedin

Yasmin Abedin is in her third year studying Medicine at UCL. In her time working with MyTutor she has completed over 140 hours of Science tuition.

We’d love to talk to you about how MyTutor can help your students

Arrange a call

We look forward to meeting you

+44 (0) 203 773 6020

james@mytutor.co.uk

Thanks, We’ll be in touch in the next 24hrs.

mtw:mercury1:status:ok