Academic Group 4 Subjects

Overview: Physics HL

The topics in Physics HL are divided into 3 sections: the core, HL units, and the option. The first eight topics are studied by all Physics students both in SL and HL. The last four topics are studied only by HL students. The HL units are continuations from previous core topics. 


  1. Measurements and Uncertainties
  2. Mechanics
  3. Thermal Physics
  4. Waves 
  5. Electricity and Magnetism 
  6. Circular Motion and Gravitation
  7. Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics
  8. Energy Production
  9. Wave Phenomena
  10. Fields
  11. Electromagnetic Induction
  12. Quantum and Nuclear Physics 

Both SL and HL students will also have to study one of the options listed below. Usually, the option studied is chosen by your teacher. HL students will have to study more topics within the option chosen. 

  1. Relativity
  2. Engineering Physics 
  3. Imaging
  4. Astrophysics 

Physics students are graded on 3 final papers, the IA, and the Group 4 project. Both HL and SL take these three exams. However, HL exams are longer and more challenging. 

Paper 1

The Physics HL Paper 1 consists of 40 multiple-choice questions about both core and HL extension topics. About 15 of these questions are in common with the SL Paper 1. No calculator is permitted for this exam, as Paper 1 mainly assesses students on their understanding of topics, formulas, and definitions.

Paper 2

The Physics HL Paper 2 consists of short-answer and extended-response questions. Questions on this exam are mainly calculation-based word problems. Calculators are permitted for this exam. 

Paper 3

This paper consists of short-answer and extended-response questions. Section A consists of one data-based and several short-answer questions on an experiment given. It is similar to doing lab work, so you should be very familiar with Topic 1 (uncertainties, graphing, and displaying data) to answer this section well. Section B consists of short-answer and extended-response questions from one option. Calculators are permitted for this exam. 


The IA is a scientific investigation of any topic of your choosing. It should include a practical investigation (e.g. laboratory experiment) and an analysis of the data produced from the practical.

Group 4 Project

The Group 4 project is a collaborative project in which you are grouped with students from other science subjects to work on a scientific investigation and presentation. In my school, a whole day was dedicated towards this project. Students were given a prompt, and we had to present our solution to the problem to teachers at the end of the day. 

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