Practical questions

You will complete eight required practical activities if you are studying GCSE Physics and 21 if you are studying GCSE Combined Science. You could be asked questions about the methods, safety precautions you might take, results and conclusions of these experiments.

There are two required practicals in the Waves topic: Measure the frequency, wavelength and speed of waves in a ripple tank and: Measure the frequency, wavelength and speed of waves in a solid.

Edexcel questions courtesy of Pearson Education Ltd.

Sample question 1 - Higher


The figure below shows a ripple tank which is used to study the behaviour of water waves:

A ripple tank, on a table, with surrounding equipment including a lamp, power supply, motor and wooden beam supported by elastic bands.

Water waves are produced in the tank. The shadow of the waves is projected onto the screen below the tank. The waves appear to move in the direction of the arrow.

Describe how to determine the frequency of the waves. [2 marks]

Measure the time for a certain number of waves to pass a fixed point [1] and then calculate frequency = number of waves ÷ time taken [1].

Sample question 2 - Foundation


A student is standing 600 m from a firework display. A firework explodes with a loud bang, and a flash of light is seen.

Describe how a student can measure the time it takes for the sound wave from the loud bang to travel 600 m. [2 marks]

Use a stopwatch [1] - start timing when flash is seen and stop when the bang is heard [1].

With questions on practical work, make sure you state the equipment used to make the measurement as well as what measurement is being taken.