Units 3 & 6 Investigative & Practical Skills – Route X


Some practice questions that will help you prepare for the Unit 6 EMPA, specifically tailored to help with the skills needed for Unit 6 that are beyond what is required for Unit 3:


An EMPA completed by Mr. Moore and Dr. Poulton on an off-day! Can you mark our paper, spot our mistakes and tell us what we should have done to get full marks? Try and do it on your own first and then use the mark scheme (this can be found at AQA website, it is the specimen paper mark scheme) to check if you missed anything:


A simple experiment using masses on springs to practice the basic skills needed to succeed in the EMPA:

Note : Additional resources related to the practical exam, (power points etc) can be found under unit 3

Examinations Update – subject information: Issue 4 September 2009


Units 3 & 6
Investigative & Practical Skills – Route X
PHA3/B3/X & PHA6/B6/X
The specifications outline that the practical and investigative skills in this route will be assessed through:
• Practical Skills Verification (PSV)
• Externally Marked Practical Assignment (EMPA).

The PSV requires teachers to verify their candidates’ ability to demonstrate safe and skilful practical techniques and make valid and reliable observations.
Candidates following this route must undertake specific practical exercises. They will be required to work individually and carry out five short practical exercises under supervision in the laboratory during normal class time. The exercises will be set by us and may be undertaken at any stage during the course at the centre’s discretion, either as individual exercises or by organising more than one exercise to be taken at a given time. The candidates must be supervised during the practical work.

One or more of these specified tasks may change from year to year dependent on the content of the EMPA.
The list for the year September 2009 – May 2010 is as follows:


Unit 3 (AS)

Exercise
Measuring equipment used
Unit
(i) Measurement of the I V curve of a component
ammeter, voltmeter
1
(ii) Measuring the terminal velocity of a ball falling in oil
stopwatch, metre ruler, set square
2
(iii) Measurement of the density of a regular object
vernier callipers, micrometer screw gauge, electronic balance
2
(iv) Measurement of the wavelength of monochromatic light with a diffraction grating
protractor, metre ruler
2
(v) Using a potential divider with a thermistor as a temperature sensor
thermometer, voltmeter
1

Unit 6 (A2)

Exercise
Measuring equipment used
Unit
(i) Measurement of the period of an oscillator performing simple harmonic motion
digital stopwatch, fiducial mark
4
(ii) Measuring the pd across a capacitor as it is discharged through a resistor of fixed resistance
digital stopwatch, voltmeter
4
(iii) Determination of the specific heat capacity of a solid
thermometer, mass balance and digital stopwatch
5
(iv) Measuring the absorption of beta or gamma radiation by aluminium or lead leading to a determination of the half-value thickness
radiation detector (any type) and counter or rate meter
5
(v) Use of data logging in any of the above contexts; analysis of the outcome using a pc-based spreadsheet
voltage sensors, light gates or motion sensors, temperature sensors or radiation detectors; attached to data logger or via an interface to a computer
4/5

There is no formal assessment of these exercises. Teachers need to confirm on the Candidate Record Form, for each candidate, that this requirement has been met. Failure to complete the tick box will mean that the candidate will be awarded a mark of zero for the whole of this unit. Knowledge and understanding of the skills shown in the tasks may be assessed by the EMPA written tests. The Externally Marked Practical Assignment (EMPA) may be conducted between 1 March until the deadline date for the coursework submission. We will provide details of the EMPA well in advance of the window so that preparations can be made.