Don’t Panic about Your Maths.

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Here are some documents to help you through the maths that you’ll need for your Physics. Don’t panic! You can easily learn the maths, but you’ll need to practice it regularly.

Maths For Physics Notes


Need a piece of graph paper? Download it here multiwidth graph grey


The Relationship Sheet and Data Sheet. Why not make some flashcards using the information and leave them as a pile by the biscuit tin. Before tucking in set yourself a target of how many to get right!

Physics N5 Relationship Sheet The relationship sheet you’ll have during your SQA exams. Make sure you’ve got an annotated copy.

Physics N5 Data Sheet The data sheet will be on page two of your section 1. It is important that you get used to using it.

basic maths with answer. Here is a document for you to test out whether you can know your prefixes, scientific notation and significant figures.


Prefix Symbol Multiple Multiple in full
Tera T × 1012 × 1 000 000 000 000
Giga G × 109 × 1 000 000 000
Mega M × 106 × 1 000 000
kilo k × 103 × 1 000
centi c × 10-2 ÷ 100
milli m × 10-3 ÷ 1 000
micro m × 10-6 ÷ 1 000 000
nano n × 10-9 ÷ 1 000 000 000
pico p ×10-12 ÷ 1 000 000 000 000

Above is a table of prefixes, which you will commonly find in Physics.
NB THE STANDARD UNIT FOR MASS IS THE KILOGRAM. Do not try changing it to grammes!
Watch out for ms which is not metres per second but milli seconds

Setting out Mathematical Questions

Always set out maths problems using the structure given below. It may seem to take longer but it will save time in the long run as it makes the question clearer.

  1. (Information)- Summarise the question.
  2. Change any units that are not standard.
  3. (Equation) -Write out the formula.
  4. (Substitution) -Put the numbers in.
  5. Use the magic triangle to rearrange the formula..
  6. (Solution)- Work out the answer.
  7. Write out the answer, but not to too many sig fig.
  8. (Units) -Add units to your answer.
  9. (Underline) Underline the answer

Here is the same information but in a little more detail for those whom require it.

  1. Information– Summarise the question by writing down what you know from the information given. Use the letter that goes with the quantity and this will help you be able to work out the correct formula. Don’t forget at this point to ensure that all units are in their basic form and you are using SI units, such as metres, ohms, Grays, Newtons etc. The only exceptions are km/h and those involving half life that can have any units of time. There might be a few others, but you can tell me what they are! Basically it is vital you learn the list of Quantity Symbol unit and unit symbol and know the difference between these.
  2. Equation – write down the equation as it occurs in the data sheet. Do not attempt to rearrange it. At National 4 there shouldn’t be too much rearranging. At N5 there could be. The one mark is for copying down the correct equation, so why throw this away, when it is one mark in the bag for sure! After you’ve summarised the information it should be easy to select the correct equation.
  3. Substitution – put the numbers into the equation as they appear in the formula: just like in football you’re taking off one player (the letter) and replacing it with a number!
  4. Solution – work out the answer. You are ALWAYS allowed to use a calculator. If you are not good at knowing which number divides  into which, then turn on maths (see blog post) and add it in as an fraction equation.
  5. Units– you will need to use the correct units so will need to learn these. No, or wrong, units = no mark for the answer, i.e. you might as well have not bothered working out the answer if you don’t know the units, they’re that important.
  6. Underline – underline, with 2 lines, the answer to make it clear what your final answer will be.

A little out of date, maybe he’ll update it for the three mark question

Using the exp / ×10x button

The speed of light in air is 300 000 000 ms-1 (fast) We will use this number loads of times over the next year. It is a big number and must be entered carefully into your calculators.
300 000 000 means 3 ×108 or 3 ×10×10×10×10×10×10×10×10 THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS 38 WHICH EQUALS 6561

There are various ways of putting this number into your calculator.
1. Obviously you can do 300 000 000
2. you can use the xy or yx Here you would do 3×10 yx 8. This should give you the correct answer.
3. The EASIEST WAY IS USING THE exp / ee/ 10x button. Here you go 3exp8 or 3ee8 or 3×108 PLEASE NOTE. The exp / ee/ 10x button means  1×10x . DO NOT ADD TOO MANY 10S ON HERE!

Happy Counting!

Q: What happened to the plant in math class?
A: It grew square roots.

Q: How do you make seven an even number?
A: Take the s out!

Q: Why should the number 288 never be mentioned?
A: It’s two gross.

Q: Why is a math book always unhappy?
A: Because it always has lots of problems.

Q: Why did I divide sin by tan?
A: Just cos.


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