Hi, I'm Sally Weatherly. I'm a Physics Teacher, Author and CEO of GradePod. Welcome to my podcast "Stress Free IB Physics" where we'll discuss strategies and tips to make IB Physics as stress free as possible for you but still get top marks. Little known fact about me is that I love the Golden Girls. That's right, that weird old series bout four old ladies who lived together in the 1980's. I've watched every episode at least 20 times!
Today, we're going to talk about why you should throw ALL of your class Physics notes in the bin, and why you should do it way before your IB Physics exams.
I remember one night back when I was about 17, it was my final year of high school, and it was a few months before my final exams. My last exam was of course the physics exam and coincidentally, it fell on my birthday on the 21st of May. So, I mean, my birthday honestly has never been the same since.
I've got major PTSD from that exam.
And now every morning I wake up one year older on the 21st of May and start reciting formulae. Hideous, hideous. Anyway, let me get to the point of the story.
I was sitting at my desk a couple of months before this final exam, and I decided to start revising. So I got my revision timetable up and that was PERFECT. I planned it down to a tee, different color pens, everything looked amazing.
And today was my first session.
So I pull out my physics class notes and they were a mess. There were hundreds of bits of paper. Some had random calculations on them. Some were marked by my teacher, but I didn't really know what they related to, what topic. I had some random class notes written down, but nothing in order. I was even finding physics notes in my French folder. And I've got no idea why or should I say,
Je ne sais pas pourquoi!
It was a mess. But I didn't panic because I've got my textbook. Right? And that's what they're there for. So I thought, right, I'm going to use my textbook to revise. So I get my highlighter and I start to highlight all the things I feel I need to remember. And I get to the end of the first page and I've pretty much highlighted everything. I've ruined a textbook in the process.
So, I quickly realize that wasn't going to work. I thought, right, I'm gonna write revision notes. Back to the first page and I write the most beautiful revision notes that you've ever seen, really beautiful. The trouble is it took me about two hours and it was less than a quarter of a topic that I covered.
And it was then I began to panic, because I looked at my revision notes and everything I'd written down I actually already knew. I really gained nothing in those two hours of revision.
So, by this time I'm in a bit of a downer, to be honest. And I head into class the next day, and there was this guy in my class, he was a proper know-it-all. And he used to revise by, he condensed the whole topic that we were studying down into two sides of A4 paper. And I'd seen him do it in class. I didn't really like him very much. And I just thought, what a waste the time?
How do you even do that?
But, you know, he was getting better marks than me. So, and actually he's now a Professor of Astrophysics at some really good university.
He's done pretty well.
So I decided to copy him.
I went home and I condensed the whole topic, down into two sides of A4. And it completely changed the way I revised every subject from then on.
It completely changed the way that I studied toward tests.
It completely changed what notes that I binned and what notes I kept.
It completely changed my organization in class,
It completely changed my grades.
So I'm here today to convince you that all of those messy class notes you have for IB physics can be thrown in the bin, and you can create a system
that'll help you stay organized,
that'll help you stay confident,
that'll help you improve your grades.
So let's dig a bit deeper into that.
When you condense a whole topic's worth of information down into two sides of A4, what you're doing is you're taking clutter out of your mind.
While you're making those notes, you're taking out what you already know. You're taking out what you don't need to know. And you're focusing only on what you need to get into your mind for that exam.
So, I bet I can tell what you're thinking.
You're thinking two things.
"Sally, if you're telling me I don't need my class notes, do I actually need revision notes? Can't I just use one of those pre-made books that you buy on Amazon or something, or can I use somebody else's notes because that will save me a whole lot of time?"
And the second thing I think you're thinking is,
"Okay, well, Sally it's okay to try and condense all that topic into two sides of A4. How do I do that? And what exactly do I know is important, and what's not?"
So let me elaborate on those two things.
First of all,
I strongly recommend that you write your own revision notes.
I believe I am the queen of efficiency, certainly when it comes towards IB physics. And if I believed that a pre-written book or pre-written revision notes, or somebody else's revision notes were better than your own, believe me, I would be selling them, or I would be recommending them on Amazon or wherever.
But I don't,
I believe that you should write them yourself.
And here's why.
These pre-written revision books are excellent. They employ really fantastic IB Physics teachers to write them for them. And those teachers cover every aspect of the course, with the same level of difficulty. So if you're looking at a revision book, they'll cover each learning objective with a slight level of superficiality. So, if you know a concept and you've learned it well in class, that's absolutely fine. But if you're struggling with something, then that depth of knowledge inside the revision notes, is not enough for you to go forward.
The other thing about these pre-written books is that your revision notes should only include stuff that you don't immediately know. If it's already in your brain, what's the point in writing it down.
It's already there.
Your revision notes should include
- The formulae you don't already know.
- The definitions you don't already know.
- The graphs that you don't quite understand.
Your revision notes are tailored to you.
And only that way will you improve your recall and your understanding of IB Physics.
So please don't rely on pre-bought revision notes to get you through these exams.
The second obstacle that I fear you may meet when you're trying to write these revision notes is, what exactly to include in these notes. And I actually have some help for you on that one.
I have a free revision note template, and a tutorial on how exactly to write those notes.
You'll find it inside my IB Physics: Starter Study Kit.
And you can download that for free
I made the starter kit exactly for you, exactly for students studying IB Physics who need that help to ace their IB Physics exams.
If you'd like my template to write those revision notes, head to www.gradepod.com/study , and you'll
get your free copy there.
But let's discuss it in a little bit more detail here, right now, and see if it's the right fit for you before you download.
So, once you have your free note template, what you're going to need is a list of learning objectives. So let's, for example, say, we're studying Topic 2: Mechanics. I'll head to my textbook, and at the front of every chapter, they'll have a list of learning objectives. Or, if you're part of my online course GradePod, you get a full set of learning objectives. So you take your learning objectives and you put it beside your revision note template, and you go through each learning objective and you decide if it falls into one of the following,
Category 1: Is it a formula?
Category 2: Is it a definition you need to learn?
Category 3: Is it a common diagram that you might see?
Category 4: Is it a common
Category 5: Is it to do with experiments and practicals?
Category 6: Does it not fall into any of those categories?
So, let me give you an example. If I read the learning objective, "Draw and analyze velocity-time graphs" as part of my study for Topic 2: Mechanics. I would say that's a common graph, I'd head to the common graph section and I draw a velocity-time graph. And then I'd annotate that velocity-time graph to show what the gradient means. For example, the gradient of a velocity-time graph can be used to calculate the acceleration. And then I'd color in the area underneath the velocity-time graph because you and I both know that the area underneath the velocity-time graph gives you the displacement traveled.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
So, you've taken one learning objective and you've popped into the right category in your revision note template.
Now, if you are really good at velocity-time graphs, then don't bother putting that bit in your revision notes, because you knew that already.
Let's have a think of another example.
Another learning objective might be, "Explain the difference between instantaneous and average velocity." Now, to me, that sounds like there's two definitions I'll need to learn. So I'd head to the definition section; the category inside the revision notes, and I'd write down the definitions for instantaneous velocity and average velocity.
As you work through these learning objectives, you'll find that you're organizing the whole topic into six, easy small categories. And once you've finished the learning objectives for that topic, what you'll have is two sides of A4, split into six categories or six sections. And these are the things that you have to learn.
You'll have a section with the definitions you need.
You'll have a section with a formula that you need to memorize that are not already in a data booklet.
You'll have a section with the type of graphs you might come across, the type of diagrams you may come across, practicals associated with that topic and a section for other, where it was just things you want to note down.
Can you see how useful that would be going forward?
You could literally throw all your class notes in the bin, and have that one sheet of A4 paper, and you can use that A4 paper for studying for your class tests. You can use it just in class, if you're doing problems in class with your teacher, and you can keep it for your exams in a year's time or next year, whenever those exams are.
I mean, I can see the benefit of this, can you?
Now, let's go one step further 'cause I'm still living in sort of 1997, where you take a piece of paper, you might use an iPad or a tablet to write your revision notes or to write your class notes. In which case is even more useful because you can download the revision template that you can get at the end of this video. And you write your revision notes in exactly the same way that I explained to you a moment ago, write down only the things you don't understand. But the great thing is that as you do understand them, you can delete. And what you'll end up with as you head towards the exam is less and less and less things to read on your revision notes, to learn before your exam, because all that stuff's already in your memory.
I mean, could you imagine for Higher Level Physics, there's 12 topics. Could you imagine having 12 sheets of A4 paper, and only having to memorize that stuff on there? And then as you get towards the exam, the stuff on those bits of paper get less and less as you go along.
It's difficult to listen and take advice.
I have actually created a tutorial on how I've completed these revision notes for the whole of Topic 3: Thermal Physics. And if you'd like to watch that tutorial, I've included it in the IB Physics Starter Study Pack that I've already mentioned. If you'd like to download it, head to
You can get your free revision template there, but also watch the tutorial where I complete the whole of Topic 3: Thermal Physics, in about 10 minutes. And I'd be happy for you to go and do that if you really want to delve deeper into this process and technique. The great thing about it is I think this template works for other subjects as well, particularly chemistry and biology.
So, now we've got an idea of what the process is, How is this going to make your life better?
Well, I would encourage you to head under your bed, find all the notes, take out of all the bits of paper of your school bag, take them out your files and throw it in the bin.
If you're really not going to look at it, throw it in the bin.
Isn't there somebody called Marie Kondo who says,
"Look at it and if it sparks joy then keep it otherwise, throw it in the bin."
She's the queen of tiding or something. I think I've seen her on Netflix.
Let me be your queen of studying IB Physics. Throw it in the bin. Okay?
If you want, you don't have to throw them in the bin, you can burn them. That's a bit of therapy for you.
Burn your class notes.
'Cause I promise it will make you feel better and I'll promise it'll make you feel more proactive, because if you don't have this big pile of random physics notes beside you on the desk, you're gonna feel like you've got nothing. And it's going to encourage you to start taking action and start being proactive in how you prepare for those exams or class tests.
And this is the way to do it.
So, let me know how you get on. Email me on [email protected] If you've started this process and you've tried it, let me know how you go on.
I'd love to hear from you.
I love hearing from students all over the world and I do get lots of emails. And this particular technique seems to have been a bit of a game changer for people in previous years. So I do encourage you to do it.
If you'd like to download my free template as part of the IB Physics: Starter Study Kit, then head to www.gradepod.com/study.
I'll leave you for this week, and if you've got any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Take care. Bye.