Higher Past Papers

I’ve tried to avoid stepping on others toes, but alas, with my big feet I felt I needed to add the Physics Higher Past Papers and Marking Instructions (MI) as well as the PA/Exam/External / Course Reports.

These papers and marking instructions are reproduced to support SQA qualifications, please check the conditions of use and ensure they are not used for commercial benefit.

Digital Paper
NH 20172017MI H 20172017 Report
2016 Digital QPNH 20162016MI H 20162016 Report
2015 Digital QPNH 20152015MI H 20152015 Report
H S1 Digital QP
H S2 Digital QP
NH SpecSpecimenMI H Spec

Below are the Revised Higher Past Papers, the content is very very similar to the new National (CfE) Higher, although the marks would be different. These were the last past papers with half marks!

Exam Feedback
H Rev 20152015MI Rev 20152015 Report
H Rev 20142014MI Rev 20142014 Report
H Rev 20132013MI Rev 2013
2013 Report
H Rev 20122012MI Rev 20122012 Report
H Rev Specimen QPSpecimen
MI H Rev Specimen

These are the traditional Higher Past Papers (once also known as revised!) Remember some of this material is no longer on the syllabus, and some is relevant to National 5.

H 20152015MI 20152015 Report
H 20142014MI 20142014 Report
H 20132013MI 20132013 Report
H 20122012MI 20122012 Report
H 20112011MI 20112011 Report
H 20102010MI 20102010 Report
H 20092009MI 20092009 Report
H 2008 2008MI 20082008 Report
H 20072007MI 20072007 Report
H 20062006MI 20062006 Report
H 20052005MI 20052005 Report
H 20042004MI 20042004 Report
H 20032003MI 20032003 Report
H 20022002MI 20022002 Report
H 20012001MI 2001
H 20002000MI 2000

From National Parent Forum of Scotland This great little pdf file gives some ideas of suitable questions from the traditional Higher papers that are suitable for the new National Qualifications.

Thanks to Mr John Irvine for filling in most of the gaps in the Exam Reports, and to Mr Stuart Farmer for making it a full house, only a few left to fill. PLEASE can I recommend that both teachers and students READ the Report after tackling the past paper. The course reports give really good background and information about how candidates performed in the exam and what messages you should learn from them. Believe it or not, candidates often make the same mistakes every year! The reports are designed to help you learn from this.

Please also note that some of the National Higher content was once in the AH course, so it is worth checking these papers for some additional practice.

The papers pre-2000 can be found at http://mrmackenzie.co.uk/higher-revision/

All the best with your revision!



It is really important that you get to grips with the uncertainty section. You will need this information for your Assignment and it could well form a question on the exam paper.

The key is remembering that ANY measurement is liable to uncertainty. Get that and you’re half way there!


Random and systematic uncertainty

Uncertainties and data analysis

  • All measurements of physical quantities are liable to uncertainty, which should be expressed in absolute or percentage form. Random uncertainties occur when an experiment is repeated and slight variations occur. Scale reading uncertainty is a measure of how well an instrument scale can be read. Random uncertainties can be reduced by taking repeated measurements.Systematic uncertainties occur when readings taken are either all too small or all too large. They can arise due to measurement techniques or experimental design.
  • The mean of a set of readings is the best estimate of a ‘true’ value of the quantity being measured. When systematic uncertainties are present, the mean value of measurements will be offset. When mean values are used, the approximate random uncertainty should be calculated. When an experiment is being undertaken and more than one physical quantity is measured, the quantity with the largest percentage uncertainty should be identified and this may often be used as a good estimate of the percentage uncertainty in the final numerical result of an experiment. The numerical result of an experiment should be expressed in the form final value ±uncertainty.


Whenever you do an experiment there will be uncertainties.

There are three types of uncertainty and effects to look out for at Higher.

Systematic Effects

Here the problem lies with the design of the experiment or apparatus. It includes zero errors. Sometimes they show up when you plot a graph but they are not easy to recognise, as they are not deliberate. Systematic effects include slow running clocks, zero errors, warped metre sticks etc. The best way to ensure that these are spotted is to acknowledge their existence and go looking for them. Where accuracy is of the utmost importance, the apparatus would be calibrated against a known standard. Note that a systematic effect might also be present if the experimenter is making the same mistake each time in taking a reading.

Random Uncertainties

These uncertainties cannot be eliminated. They cannot be pinpointed. examples include fluctuating temperatures, pressure and friction. Their effect can be reduced by taking several readings and finding a mean.

Reading Uncertainties

These occur because we cannot be absolutely certain about our readings when taking measurements from scales. Use scales with mirrors where possible, good scales and repeat all measurements.

Repeat all experiments to reduce the reading and random uncertainties. Systematic effects are not improved by taking lots of results.

Which experiment has the best design?

Quantifying Uncertainties

 1.Find the mean

This is the best estimate of the “true” value but not necessary the “true” value.

          2. Find the approximate random uncertainty in the mean (absolute uncertainty)

This can be written as  and it is sometimes referred to as average deviation or absolute uncertainty.

3. Find the percentage uncertainty.


Scale Reading Uncertainty

This value indicates how well an instrument scale can be read.

An estimate of reading uncertainty for an analogue scale is generally taken as:

± half the least division of the scale.

Note: for widely spaced scales, this can be a little pessimistic and a reasonable estimate should be made.

For a digital scale it is taken as

± 1 in the least significant digit displayed.

Or uncertainty in reading ÷reading × 100%

Overall final Uncertainty

When comparing uncertainties, it is important to take the percentage in each.

In an experiment, where more than one physical quantity has been measured, spot the quantity with the largest percentage uncertainty. This percentage uncertainty is often a good estimate of the percentage uncertainty in the final numerical result of the experiment.

eg if one measurement has an uncertainty of 3% and another has an uncertainty of 5%, then the overall percentage uncertainty in this experiment should be taken as 5%



Introduction Tasks

Friday 9th June
learning outcomes
  1. To review the work completed so far
  2. To practice uncerts and practical experiments
  3. To practice risk assessments


    1. Starting on approximately p14 of the introduction notes complete tutorial 1 & 2
    2. Make notes on uncerts and quantifying them from chapter 4
    3. Risk assessment -Go through the powerpoint on the network (higher physics-> intro-> on risk assessment)
    4. In your classwork jotter answer the questions as you go through the power point
    5. Complete the practical below and write it up, including hazards, risks and controls.
    Checking Your Uncertainties.

    Aim:      To find the average speed of a trolley moving down a slope, estimating the uncertainty in the final value.

    Apparatus: 1 ramp, 1 metre stick, 1 trolley, 1 stop clock.


    1. Set up a slope and mark two points 85 cm apart.
    2. Note the scale reading uncertainty.
    3. Calculate the percentage uncertainty in the distance.
    4. Ensuring the trolley starts from the same point each time, measure how long it takes the trolley to pass between the two points.
    5. Repeat 5 times, calculate the mean time and estimate the random uncertainty.
    6. Note the scale reading uncertainty in the time.
    7. Calculate the percentage uncertainty in the time.
    8. Calculate the average speed and associated uncertainty.
    9. Express your result in the form:

    (speed ± absolute uncertainty) m s-1

    Write up your experiment and include your risk assessment

    1. Continue with the tutorials on Uncerts.

Outcome 1

Before you can pass any units you must have completed an Outcome 1. This is a practical activity that you must have been involved in. You should have collected data and written it up. See the instructions below.

There is also included below a front marking sheet that you ought to place on the front of your submitted write up.

O1 mark sheet

O1 mark sheet


Your plan must include:
• an aim — which is a clear statement of what you are trying to do in this experiment/practical investigation
• the dependent and independent variables
• the relevant variable(s) to be kept constant
• what you will be measuring/observing
• a list of equipment/materials you will use
• a labelled diagram of the experimental arrangement, if appropriate
• a description of how you will carry out your experiment/practical investigation (including safety where appropriate)
Checkpoint: Ask your assessor to check your plan before you start the practical work.
• You should carry out your experiment/practical investigation safely, including repeated measurements and averages where appropriate.
• Record your observations/measurements in an appropriate way.
Checkpoint: Ask your assessor to check your results.
• Present your findings/results in any appropriate format. You should:
— record the information/data in a clear and systematic way, with well-organised tables of raw data
— process/analyse the results. Present your findings in any appropriate format. These may be from: a table, line graph or summary. Graphs should be plotted on squared graph paper
— use appropriate SI units and standard abbreviations
• State your conclusion(s) — which should reference the aim.
• Evaluate your experimental procedures, with justification(s). Your evaluation should include two possible improvements and be supported by justification(s).

Outcome 1

1 Apply skills of scientific inquiry and draw on knowledge and understanding of the key areas of this Unit to carry out an experiment/practical investigation by:
1.1 Planning an experiment/practical investigation
1.2 Following procedures safely
1.3 Making and recording observations/measurements correctly
1.4 Presenting results in an appropriate format
1.5 Drawing valid conclusions
1.6 Evaluating experimental procedures

To pass this assessment you will have to show that you have met this Outcome and Assessment Standards.
Your assessor will let you know how the assessment will be carried out and any required conditions for doing it.

What you have to do
This assessment activity is an experiment/practical investigation.
Your assessor will provide you with the resources you need. You may be able to work in a group to do the practical work, but your assessor will need you to show that you have met the Assessment Standards.
To pass this assessment, you will have to prepare a scientific report to show that you can:
• plan an experiment/practical investigation
• make and record observations/measurements correctly
• present your results in an appropriate format
• draw valid conclusions
• evaluate experimental procedures
While you are carrying out your experiment/practical investigation, your assessor will be observing to make sure that you are following procedures safely, and that you are making measurements correctly.

Experimental Write Up

Your best work. Rulers, sharp pencils, colour etc.

Correct use of terminology and units at all times


Title   Short and relevant with date.

Aim     What are you trying to find out/prove?

To find out how “something” affects “something else”.


Method     Instructions on how to complete the experiment; make it reliable and make it a fair test:

Set up the following apparatus (draw a good labelled diagram).

The “something” was set at a “value” and increased by an “amount” using the “piece of equipment”.  The “something else” was noted    at each value using the “other piece of equipment”.  Other variables were kept constant by…….

Results     Display the findings.

A neat table with headings and units.

An appropriate graph of somethingon the x-axis andsomething elseon the y-axis.

Conclusion    What did you find out?

As the “something” is increased / decreased, the “something else” increased / decreased / stayed the same.  Also include “directly/inversely proportional” if appropriate.

Evaluation    Are there any improvements that could be made to your experiment to reduce uncertainties?