How Your Knowledge Will Be Tested
There are three different levels on which your understanding
of physics may be tested. While questions on kinematics often require
that you make use of some of the formulas for kinematic motion,
questions on quantum physics or atomic structure may often ask just that
you remember the name of a particular concept. Knowing the different
ways in which your knowledge may be tested should help you better
prepare yourself for the exam.
Recall (20–33% of the test)
These are questions of the either-you-know-it-or-you-don’t
variety. They test your understanding of the basic concepts of physics.
No equations or calculations are necessary for these questions.
They’re simply a matter of knowing your stuff.
Single-Concept Problem (40–53% of the test)
These questions expect you to recall, and make use of,
one physical relationship, formula, or equation. This might involve
plugging numbers into a kinematic equation of motion, or it might
involve recalling the equation E = hf and
solving for E or f.
These questions test to see if you know important formulas and how
to apply them.
Multiple-Concept Problem (20–33% of the test)
These questions expect you to bring together two or more
different relationships, formulas, or equations. This could involve
bringing together two formulas from the same subject—for instance,
a problem in linear momentum that requires you to calculate the momentum
of an object before a collision so that you can calculate its velocity
after the collision—or it may bring together formulas from two different
subjects—for instance, a problem that involves an electric point
charge moving in circular motion in a magnetic field. These questions
test not only your knowledge of physical relationships, but also your
ability to integrate more than one in a complex problem.
You’re probably thinking that the recall questions are
the easiest, and the multiple-concept problems are the hardest.
This isn’t necessarily true. Most people have an easier time bringing
together two simple principles of mechanics than recalling the significance
of the Rutherford experiment. You’ll find all three types of questions
throughout the test, and at different levels of difficulty. Ultimately,
every question tests the very same thing: whether you’ve grasped
the basic principles of physics.