IB Physics

IB Physics is a rigorous high school course covering the content of a university-level introductory physics class, generally taught over two years. Students cultivate their understanding and skills in physics through inquiry-based, hands-on practical investigations and quantitative problem-solving in preparation for externally assessed final exams taken at the end of the second year.

Course Structure and Content

IB Physics can be taken at either Standard or Higher Level. Higher Level Physics students learn all of the content and skills expected at Standard Level, as well as additional HL-only topics. Topics examined at Standard Level include Mechanics, Thermal Physics, Waves and Oscillations, and more. Higher Level Students study additional topics, including Wave Phenomena, Fields, Electromagnetic Induction, and Quantum and Nuclear Physics. Both Standard and Higher Level Physics students also choose one of four optional topics, known as the Options, to study. These Options include Relativity, Engineering Physics, Optics, and Astrophysics.

At the end of the program, all SL and HL Physics students sit the IB Physics examinations. The examinations consist of three independent papers containing a variety of questions and problems on different aspects of the syllabus. In Paper 1, students attempt a set of challenging multiple-choice questions spanning the entire syllabus, except for the options. Paper 2 contains a series of written short answer and extended response questions on the same material. Finally, Paper 3 contains two sections. In Section A, students will find data-based questions evaluating student understanding of important experimental procedures and data analysis, including uncertainty and error. Section B contains short-answer and extended-response questions from all four Options, although students are expected to answer questions from only their chosen Option.

Finally, both Standard Level and Higher Level students complete the internally assessed Independent Investigation, a report on an independently selected, designed, and analyzed experiment of their choice.

Curriculum Change

Starting with the May 2025 cohort, all students in IB Physics will undertake their IB Physics studies under a new syllabus and curriculum. On the new syllabus, both SL and HL students will student similar but not identical content with a new curricular structure, including material organized into five Themes, rather than Topics. Additionally, there will be no Option, although understandings and skills from the previous Options have been moved into the main syllabus. Paper 3 has been eliminated, and Paper 1 will contain a new section of data-based questions similar to Section A of the old Paper 3.

Tips for Success

To succeed in IB Physics, it will be important for students to develop excellent study habits and engage in systematic practice of the questions and concepts they will be expected to answer and apply in their examinations. This is where Revision Village comes in - equipping each student with exactly the right materials to improve their understanding and scores on the IB Physics examinations. Students can review important concepts with the Key Concepts videos, ensuring their grasp of the underlying material is solid, and use the Popular Quizzes for a brief, concentrated study session prior to an in-class assessment. They can then move to revising using the questions and problems available in the Questionbank, which contains IB-style questions, arranged by topic and sorted by difficulty, accompanied by markschemes and video solutions. Near the end of the course, students can use the Revision Ladder to increase their skills across the entire syllabus, step-by-step, and full-length Mock Exams to ensure that they are 100% prepared to earn a 7 on the IB Physics exams.