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Physics - Oscillations

To study smart and ace your exams, you should study with the understanding of what you would be specifically tested on, and what are the expected learning outcomes as set by the GCE A-level Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.

Below is some key information about “Oscillations and Waves” as an A-level H2 Physics exam topic, and the desired learning outcomes.




  • Simple harmonic motion
  • Energy in simple harmonic motion
  • Damped and forced oscillations, resonance

Learning Outcomes

A-level H2 Physics candidates should be able to:

  • describe simple examples of free oscillations
  • investigate the motion of an oscillator using experimental and graphical methods
  • show an understanding of and use the terms amplitude, period, frequency, angular frequency and phase difference and express the period in terms of both frequency and angular frequency
  • recall and use the equation a = –ω2x as the defining equation of simple harmonic motion
  • recognise and use x = x0 sin ωt as a solution to the equation a = –ω2x
  • recognise and use the equations v = v0 cos ωt and v = ±ω √(x02 – x2)
  • describe, with graphical illustrations, the changes in displacement, velocity and acceleration during simple harmonic motion
  • describe the interchange between kinetic and potential energy during simple harmonic motion
  • describe practical examples of damped oscillations with particular reference to the effects of the degree of damping and to the importance of critical damping in applications such as a car suspension system
  • describe practical examples of forced oscillations and resonance
  • describe graphically how the amplitude of a forced oscillation changes with driving frequency near to the natural frequency of the system, and understand qualitatively the factors which determine the frequency response and sharpness of the resonance
  • show an appreciation that there are some circumstances in which resonance is useful, and other circumstances in which resonance should be avoided.




  • Progressive waves
  • Transverse and longitudinal waves
  • Polarisation
  • Determination of frequency and wavelength of sound waves

Learning Outcomes

A-level H2 Physics candidates should be able to:

  • show an understanding of and use the terms displacement, amplitude, period, frequency, phase difference, wavelength and speed
  • deduce, from the definitions of speed, frequency and wavelength, the equation v = fλ
  • recall and use the equation v = fλ
  • show an understanding that energy is transferred due to a progressive wave
  • recall and use the relationship, intensity ∝ (amplitude)2
  • show an understanding of and apply the concept that a wave from a point source and travelling without loss of energy obeys an inverse square law to solve problems
  • analyse and interpret graphical representations of transverse and longitudinal waves
  • show an understanding that polarisation is a phenomenon associated with transverse waves
  • recall and use Malus’ law (intensity ∝ cos2θ) to calculate the amplitude and intensity of a plane polarised electromagnetic wave after transmission through a polarising filter
  • determine the frequency of sound using a calibrated oscilloscope
  • determine the wavelength of sound using stationary waves.

 [Source: Above information is extracted from the Singapore Examinations & Assessment Board Singapore-Cambridge A-level H2 Physics Syllabus 9749 for the Year 2022 – ]


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