Physics - Einstein a no-go

30th April 2010 at 01:00

Only a small number of Higher candidates were very poorly prepared, and questions requiring calculations were generally answered very well. Most candidates, however, continued to perform "quite poorly" in questions which demanded written descriptions and explanations.

Some candidates wrote two mutually-contradictory attempts at an answer, and some did not set out answers in a clear and logical way that could be followed easily by a marker.

Question 30, part (a)(ii), was "very poorly answered". Candidates had to explain why a nuclear fission reaction releases energy. Very few responded correctly that there is a loss of mass which is converted into energy according to E = mc2.

"These poor answers were all the more surprising as most candidates were able, in the next part of the question, to carry out a calculation for the loss of mass and substitute into E = mc2 to find the energy released!" observed the disbelieving assessor.

In question 21, many candidates only carried out a calculation to find the maximum height of the basketball and made no allowance for it having fallen below this height when it reached the top of the basket. Others drew triangles and used geometry, "apparently unaware of the parabolic nature of the path".

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