Everyone begins their Physics degree from a different starting point, as the A-Level Physics specifications differ between exam boards. However, it is important to be as comfortable and confident with all of the physics content you have studied at school when beginning your degree.
1. A-level Content
It is definitely worth revising your A-level content before beginning your degree, especially the staples of the subject that are universally studied across exam boards, such as:
- Classical mechanics: Newton’s laws and equations are essential here.
- Electric circuits: Circuit theory is an important part of a Physics degree. Make sure you are familiar with all the symbols and basic equations.
- Waves: Again, you study waves in a lot greater depth at university, in particular the maths behind them (such as the famous wave equation). It is therefore important to retain a basic understanding from A-Level of the different types and properties of waves.
- Electromagnetism: Again, studied at various levels across different boards. This will start from the foundations at university. However, the content moves quickly, especially with preliminaries, so revisiting any electromagnetism will be hugely useful.
The other hugely important skill in a Physics degree is, unsurprisingly, maths. In your first year you will study maths as a stand-alone discipline, as well as within the context of physics. It is definitely worth consolidating your A-Level Maths content. For more info, check out our guide to preparing in the summer before for a Physics degree.
3. Skills and working-methods
Many of the skills you have accumulated in A-level Physics that you may not be directly aware of are also extremely useful at university-level. For example:
- Diagram drawing: something your teachers repeat over and over, but for good reason. As concepts become more intricate and involved at university, it is important to be able to draw large diagrams to engage and fully understand everything that is at play in the system.
- Writing down all your workings: Another mantra of your school teacher, this will serve you well for university study. Many of the problems you solve will be long and developed, and showing your workings will not only allow you to gain marks without necessarily completing the whole problem, but it will also simplify the solving process for you.
- Justifying your answers: In a similar vein to the above point, justification and derivation are crucial to successful physics problem solving. The ability to show where an equation comes from, why it is derived as such, and how it functions, is a crucial facet of physics.
Although a Physics degree will cover new and exciting content, and present a very different way of going about the study of Physics – looking at fundamentals and the deepest mathematical justifications – your A-levels still provide a crucial foundation. Revising your A-level content, especially A-level Maths and Further Maths, before you turn up to university, can only be beneficial to you.