JC H1 and H2 A Level Physics Syllabus 2020 in Singapore

For many students entering JC, one of the key decisions they have to make is to consider which subject to take at the H1 level. (Of course, there are many who would take a full suite of H2s!)

Here at JC Tuition, we would like to help you in this decision, and have thus summarised the key differences in the H1 (8867) and H2 (9749) syllabus for Physics, based on the 2020 syllabus guide by SEAB.

Let us first look at the differences in content covered!

TopicPhysics H2 (9749)Physics H1 (8867)Exclusions for H1
MeasurementsConversion between moles and number of molecules using Avogadro’s number
ForcesFluid pressureUpthrust
DynamicsWork done by gases
Work Energy Power 
Circular Motion 
Gravitational FieldsExclude ALL except Newton’s Law of GravitationEquate Newton’s Law of Gravitation and Centripetal Force to analyse orbitsGeostationary orbits
Thermal Physics  
Electric FieldsExclude ALL except Qualitative understanding of electric field linesElectric force is the product of the charge and the electric field strengthUniform electric fields and how they affect charges
Current of ElectricityThe use of
DC CircuitsPotentiometers
ElectromagnetismQuantitative calculations of magnetic field strengthVelocity selectors
Electromagnetic Induction  
AC Circuits  
Quantum Physics  
Nuclear PhysicsEvidence for the neutrino in beta decayActivityQuantitative calculations in radioactive decay

JC Tuition’s Opinions

We encourage students to take up the A Level H2 physics syllabus as much as possible. However, we do recommend the A Level H1 physics syllabus for those of us who

  1. know we are weaker in the subject and have low confidence, and
  2. would still like to delve in the subject due to interest

In general, we feel that the A Level H1 physics syllabus is very friendly as it excludes some of the more technically difficult topics such as superposition, and the majority of the extremely theoretical field chapters. In addition, even for the overlapping topics, the harder concepts, such as upthrust in forces, and potentiometers in DC circuits are excluded.
As a choice for H1, it truncation in the syllabus definitely justifies for its overall lower contribution to your final A level score.

Let us now take a look at the exam formats.

Here is the breakdown for the A Level H1 Physics Exam (8867)

PaperFormatDurationMarksWeighting (%)
1MCQ1 h3033
2Structured2 h8067

Here us the breakdown for the A Level H2 Physics Exam (9749)

PaperFormatDurationMarksWeighting (%)
1MCQ1 h3015
2Structured2 h8030
3Long Structured2 h8035
4Practical2.5 h5520

JC Tuition’s Opinions

Probably the biggest benefit to the A Level H1 Physics Syllabus is the lack of a practical component. The practical exam is extremely rigorous, as it comes with 3 experiments, and a rather challenging planning component.
However, do note that lacking the practical component does not necessarily mean better performance in the A Level exams, as from our experience, we have seen that each student’s final grade does not really get affected too much by the inclusion of the practical exam. The main benefit here for H1 students is the removal of time commitment and stress in preparing for this component.

While the A Level H2 Physics Syllabus includes a second structured paper (paper 3), we find that the questions in papers 2 and 3, have very little difference in terms of difficulty. In some occasions in fact, we find that longer structured questions tend to be easier due to the further breakdown of concepts! Overall, we suspect that the H2 syllabus comes with two structured papers simply to include and test on the larger number of examinable topics in the exams. Do also note that both the paper 2s in the H1 and H2 exams include a data-analysis question, which usually requires students to assimilate new information (not within the syllabus) and answer questions.
As such, we feel there is little benefit here for H1 students.

The MCQ paper is rather similar for both H1 and H2 students, as they both come with a set of 30 MCQ questions, to be completed within an hour. From our experience, this may actually be the most stressful of the papers due to the intense time constraints, and the technical difficulty of the questions in BOTH the H1 and H2 exams. Given the larger weightage of the MCQ component for H1 students, they may actually not be a good thing.

Overall, we feel there is no clear advantage in the A Level H1 Physics exam format as compared to the H2 format, apart from the lower time commitment.

Final Thoughts A Level Physics H1 vs H2 Syllabus

Overall, we feel that the H1 syllabus satisfies the whole purpose of choosing a H1. The tough topics are removed, which helps weaker students handle the demands of the subjects. Furthermore, the time commitment is definitely not as demanding.

However, the standard of the questions is still on the same level of difficulty as the H2 syllabus. So we find that H1 students still tend to struggle with the questions. So if you know you are weak at physics, it might be better to avoid the subject altogether.

If you ever need help with your A Level Physics Exams, feel free to check out our JC Physics Tuition here.

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