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Series and Parallel Circuits

In this worksheet, students look at the differences between series and parallel circuits.

'Series and Parallel Circuits' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  Physics: Electricity

Curriculum subtopic:  Circuit Diagrams

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

There are two types of electrical circuit: series and parallel.

 

In series circuits, the components are connected in one loop. The current that flows through all the components is the same. The diagram below shows a series circuit, where two bulbs are connected in series. If one breaks, the other one will not light, because there is only one loop.

 

 

When there is more than one loop in the circuit, the components are connected in parallel. The diagram below shows two bulbs connected in a parallel circuit. If one breaks, the other one will still work, because there are two loops, so the current flowing through them is split in two. Christmas tree lights are connected in parallel, so if one breaks, the others can still be used.

 

 

Ammeters measure current in amperes or amps (A). Ammeters are always connected in series. Voltmeters measure voltage, which is the potential difference (difference in electrical energy) and drives the current flow. Voltage is measured in volts (V). A voltmeter is always connected to a circuit in parallel to the component with the voltage to be measured.

Current in a series circuit is the same everywhere, so the ammeter will show the same reading anywhere you connect it. If you add more cells, the current will increase. In a parallel circuit the current splits between the different branches.

 

It is important that you familiarise yourself with these electrical symbols:

 

 

Now we will go through some questions on series and parallel circuits.

Identify whether this circuit is series or parallel:

 

series

parallel

Identify whether this circuit is series or parallel:

 

series

parallel

In a series circuit of three bulbs, one bulb breaks. Will the other two work?

yes

no

Give an example of a circuit used at home where, if one bulb breaks, the others will still work.

toaster

electric cooker

Christmas tree lights

What instrument is used to measure current?

voltmeter

ammeter

currentmeter

What is the unit of measurement for voltage?

amps

volts

amperes

How is a voltmeter connected to a circuit?

in series

in parallel

What circuit component is shown in this diagram?

 

battery

cell

motor

 

The ammeter in the circuit above reads a current of 0.2 A. What will its reading be if you move it between the switch and the cell, provided that the switch is closed and current can flow through it?

0 A

0.4 A

0.2 A

What happens to the current in a parallel circuit?

it is the same along the circuit

it splits between the different branches

It increases to cover all branches

  • Question 1

Identify whether this circuit is series or parallel:

 

CORRECT ANSWER
series
EDDIE SAYS
This is a series circuit, because the components are connected in one loop.
  • Question 2

Identify whether this circuit is series or parallel:

 

CORRECT ANSWER
parallel
EDDIE SAYS
This circuit is parallel, because there are two loops.
  • Question 3

In a series circuit of three bulbs, one bulb breaks. Will the other two work?

CORRECT ANSWER
no
EDDIE SAYS
No, they will not work, because there is only one loop and the same current flows through it all the way, so if it can't go through one bulb, it will not move along to go to the others.
  • Question 4

Give an example of a circuit used at home where, if one bulb breaks, the others will still work.

CORRECT ANSWER
Christmas tree lights
EDDIE SAYS
Christmas tree lights are connected in parallel so that, if one bulb blows, the others will still work.
  • Question 5

What instrument is used to measure current?

CORRECT ANSWER
ammeter
EDDIE SAYS
Ammeters measure current.
  • Question 6

What is the unit of measurement for voltage?

CORRECT ANSWER
volts
EDDIE SAYS
Voltage is measured in volts.
  • Question 7

How is a voltmeter connected to a circuit?

CORRECT ANSWER
in parallel
EDDIE SAYS
A voltmeter is always connected in parallel.
  • Question 8

What circuit component is shown in this diagram?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
battery
EDDIE SAYS
It is a battery made of many cells put together.
  • Question 9

 

The ammeter in the circuit above reads a current of 0.2 A. What will its reading be if you move it between the switch and the cell, provided that the switch is closed and current can flow through it?

CORRECT ANSWER
0.2 A
EDDIE SAYS
The reading will be the same no matter where the ammeter is placed in a series circuit.
  • Question 10

What happens to the current in a parallel circuit?

CORRECT ANSWER
it splits between the different branches
EDDIE SAYS
It splits between the different branches.
---- OR ----

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