OCR A Level Physics

Revision Notes

3.1.2 Motion Graphs

Motion Graphs

  • Three types of graph that can represent motion are displacement-time graphs, velocity-time graphs and acceleration-time graphs

Displacement-Time Graph

  • On a displacement-time graph:
    • The gradient (or slope) equals velocity
    • The y-intercept equals the initial displacement
    • A diagonal straight line represents a constant velocity
      • A positive slope represents motion in the positive direction
      • A negative slope represents motion in the negative direction
    • A curved line represents an acceleration
    • A horizontal line (zero slope) represents a state of rest
    • The area under the curve is meaningless
  • Remember the displacement-time graph can have positive or negative values on the displacement axis. However, a distance-time graph only has positive

Motion graphs (1), downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Displacement-time graph for different scenarios

Velocity-Time Graph

  • On a velocity-time graph:
    • Slope equals acceleration
    • The y-intercept equals the initial velocity
    • A straight line represents uniform acceleration
      • A positive slope represents an increase in velocity (acceleration) in the positive direction
      • A negative slope represents an increase in velocity (acceleration) in the negative direction
    • A curved line represents the non-uniform acceleration
    • A horizontal line (zero slope) represents motion with constant velocity
    • The area under the curve equals the displacement or distance travelled
  • Remember the velocity-time graph can have positive or negative values on the displacement axis. However, a speed-time graph only has positive

Deceleration Graph

Velocity-time graph for different scenarios

Acceleration-Time Graph

  • On an acceleration-time graph:
    • The slope is meaningless
    • The y-intercept equals the initial acceleration
    • A horizontal line (zero slope) represents an object undergoing constant acceleration
    • The area under the curve equals the change in velocity

Motion graphs (3), downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Acceleration-time graphs for different velocity scenarios 

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