A levels are a big step up from GCSE. They require you to focus your knowledge even more so you get to know your subject inside out. At this stage, getting a good grade is more about your knowledge and application of physics rather than just memorising. A level physics covers many different topics so you need to approach your course, and your revision, in an organised manner – don’t leave anything to the last minute!
This might sound scary but with preparation, you’ll be ready to take the course on with confidence!
What's on the A Level Physics Curriculum?
Not all schools follow the same curriculum, it can differ depending on where you are so it’s best to check the specifications from your board’s website. Having said that, the core topics remain much the same.
At this stage your physics knowledge will already be pretty advanced. A level builds on the knowledge you gained at GCSE and continues further into concepts you already know as well as teaching you new ones.
You’ll deep-dive into the forces of the universe, like velocity, acceleration, mass and energy. You’ll learn how these forces can be applied in different contexts like how they affect the motion of everything from electrons to plants.
As you progress through the course you further your knowledge of famous theories like Newton’s theory of gravitation and Einstein’s relativity. Again, it depends on which board you follow but most courses will be spread out over two years covering subjects from mechanics and kinetics to electricity and even quantum theory.
A level physics usually requires a minimum of a grade C at GCSE in physics and often in maths. It covers complex theories and calculations so you need to make sure you are confident with the knowledge you learnt at GCSE before you progress. If the foundations are strong you’ll have no problem building on them.
You will also conduct practical experiments in a laboratory environment. A level physics will push you to apply the knowledge you learn in the classroom to practical experiments in the lab.
- Get a physics maths tutor here.
We admit this all sounds a bit scary but don't worry. You will build on your knowledge throughout the course and organised preparation and revision will keep you up to speed as your progress.
It’s good practice to revise topics as you go. This way you’re sure to gradually build up your knowledge. It is near impossible to memorise everything from a two-year course in the run-up to exams. Avoid this stress by preparing yourself throughout, you’ll thank yourself at the end.
Here's a short list of some revision techniques that can help you best prepare:
Set a Revision Timetable
Creating a revision timetable can bring structure to an otherwise confusing task. Yes, there are a lot of topics to revise but if you plan it out properly you will have plenty of time. A revision timetable will help you visualise what work is ahead and will help you better organise your time and decide which topics you need to prioritise.
Like we said, this should be a regular feature every week throughout the A level course not just the few months before your exams. Set some time aside each week to go over ideas and concepts you've covered in class.
The great thing about A Level is that you have less subjects to think about, giving you time to really go into depth on each one.
Creating a revision timetable is a great way to organise your study time so you're spending enough time on each subject.
And, as you remember from your GCSE days, having the best resources to study from never hurts...
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the most effective ways of revising is to do past papers. Past papers will get you as close to the real thing as possible. You’ll get used to the structure, to the question styles and how you should be answering questions.
It isn’t as easy as just writing what you know, you need to answer in a specific way to hit the marks for each question and this takes practice! The past papers you do the more you’ll get used to writing in this specific way.
Look up the mark scheme for your past papers and make sure your answers are hitting the points needed to get the marks. The best answers are concise explanations rather than descriptions.
You can try writing out ‘model’ answers for questions. While you, of course, won’t get these same questions in the exam it will get you into the practice of writing answers that the examiners are looking for.
Get familiar with mark schemes, they’re the secret to hitting the right points to get maximum marks!
Demonstrate Your Knowledge
While you’re sitting the past papers and marking them against the mark scheme, note the key terms and concepts that regularly come up. You can start building up type of scientific word bank that you can refer back to in your revision and include in your answers on past papers.
Every time you learn a new word, phrase or expression for a certain topic throughout the A level course add it to the bank.
Doing well on the exams relies on more than just your knowledge. You need to know how to get this across to the examiner and having the right vocabulary is how you do just that!
Check for GCSE physics curriculum here.
How Do You Learn
Everyone is always looking for the best way to study but the reality is that each person is different. Whether you’re a visual learner, or an auditory, reading or writing learner finding your style of learning will transform the way you take in information and how you recall it in your revision and on exam day.
Try out different methods, listen to podcasts, watch videos, make colourful posters or simply copy out notes. Through trial and error you’ll find the best way, or ways, for you to study. Have fun with it, the more interesting you make your revision the more likely you are to recall this information in the exam.
You'll also find out where you work better, at home, at the library, at a friend's house. Mix it up – you’ll get bored if you’re just studying in a plain room all day and boredom is definitely not effective!
The day of your exam doesn’t have to be stressful, there are many ways you can minimise your anxiety.
The first step, of course, begins long before the exam hall. Your revision and preparation throughout your A level course is the best thing you can do to minimise stress. Walking into the exam knowing you’ve prepared the best you can is the single most important way to make you feel confident!
On the day itself try to avoid panicking friends and focus on yourself. Talking to others will only increase your anxiety and will have you questioning the work you’ve put in. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the exam hall on time so you can enter calmly and with a clear mind.
However hard the curriculum may seem at first glance the work you put in over the two years will mean you’ll master it by the time it comes to the exams. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare. Little and often is always best, keep on top of your revision throughout the course to give yourself the best possible chance.