Transverse and Longitudinal Waves – Practice


1) Outline the differences between transverse and longitudinal waves in terms of the direction the waves travel and the direction the particles oscillate:

2) Draw a labelled diagram to illustrate the differences between a transverse and longitudinal wave:

3) Classify the following examples as transverse or longitudinal waves:

a) The bow wave caused by a boat

b) The sound you hear at a concert

c) The vibration of a guitar string

d) The wave that moves along a slinky string if it is pushed

4) What is the relationship between the amplitude of a transverse wave and the rarefactions and compressions of a longitudinal wave?

Quick Answers:

1) In transverse waves the particles oscillate at right angles to the direction of energy transfer. 

In longitudinal waves the particles oscillate in the same direction as the direction of energy transfer.


2) Transverse Wave:

Longitudinal Wave:


3a) Transverse  b) Longitudinal  c) Transverse  d) Longitudinal

4) The amplitude in a transverse wave represents areas of high pressure (crests) and low pressure (troughs). In longitudinal waves, these correspond to areas of high pressure (compressions) and low pressure (rarefactions).

Worked Answers: