After some respite from the relentless gruel of A-Level revision, it is useful to get back into the swing of things before beginning your Natural Sciences degree. We’ve got a few top tips for you!
Revise your A-level notes
As Physics, Chemistry and Maths all follow build upon the A-Level syllabus, it is worth revisiting your A-Level notes over the summer. The content of your A-Levels will be presupposed from the onset of the course, and although you may have secured great grades, you may have forgotten some important things over the long break.
It may be worth making crib sheets of all the main points from your A-Level courses, such as equations and key laws; if you’re struggling with the content at university in the first few weeks, these can act as a safety net. This will save you poring over your old textbooks to find the correct information, and should alleviate some stress.
For example, the SUVAT equations are important at the beginning of university physics, but will not be handed to you on a formula sheet. Therefore, if you have a crib sheet where they’re all written out and derived, you’ll find the content built from them a lot easier to grasp.
Get your maths up to scratch
It’s also definitely worth revising all the mathematical techniques covered in A-Level Maths. Whether you are going to study maths as one of your options at university or not, the skills will be used across all the physical natural sciences.
Furthermore, if you did not study Further Maths, it is worth looking over some of the Further Pure content. Although any content from Further Maths required will be taught, it will be at breakneck speed, and it is notoriously difficult to keep up! Just looking over some of the key concepts and familiarising yourself with the overall gist of the content will serve you very well in your first few weeks.
Complete any work set by your college
You may also have some preliminary work to do for your college tutors. Make sure you complete this, as it is designed to ensure that all students are at the same level when beginning their studies. You will be at a disadvantage if you don’t.
Read around the subject
It’s also worth reading a bit around your subjects. Your college may send you reading lists; it isn’t worth buying all the textbooks on them, as you won’t use them and libraries will also be well stocked, but purchasing a couple and looking over the first few chapters will be useful.
Work through a bridging book
There are also some useful bridging books that may help you transition smoothly from A-Level study to university. For maths, there is a useful workbook by Hurst and Gould, Bridging the Gap to University Mathematics, which will build upon your A-Level knowledge and begin to apply this to university-style problems. And for Physics, Professor Povey’s Perplexing Problems is full of problems that will help you acclimatise to university physics.
Remember: look forward to it! You’ve worked incredibly hard to get to this point, and you should take a moment to be proud of yourself. You’ll study an incredible degree at an incredible university: you’re fantastically lucky to have this opportunity. So look forward to it, and get excited for term to begin!