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After taking some time to relax after your A-Levels, it is important to get back into the swing of studying, and re-familiarise yourself with the subject, before you start at university. Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself for the intense workload of a chemistry degree! 

Revise A-Level Chemistry and Maths

Over the long summer, you may have begun to forget some of the content you covered in your A-Level. The content of A-Level Chemistry and Maths will be presupposed from the onset of your degree, so it is definitely worth taking some time to revisit the stuff you studied at school. 

Look over some A-Level Further Maths

Furthermore, lots of the A-Level Further Maths content will be raced through in a few weeks at the beginning of your Chemistry degree. If you studied Further Maths A-Level, it is definitely worth revising this too, in particular the Further Pure options. If you didn’t study Further Maths, it may be worth finding a textbook and trying to teach yourself some of the key concepts, so it’s not such a shock to you in the first term. 

Solve online problems

Looking over some more involved Chemistry based problems online is also a great way to shift your brain into the right gear. Using some of the websites recommended earlier in this chapter, such as isaac-chemistry, you can practice more developed problems that will be similar in style to those you study in your first year. 

Get a couple of the first year textbooks

You may get a reading list before arriving at university, and it might be worth getting a couple of the key textbooks in anticipation of the course. You can look over them and get a feel for the content you will be exposed to. There is no point getting all the books though, as you won’t need them, and the libraries in Oxford will serve you well. Some key first year textbooks you could consider browsing prior to the beginning of your study are: 

  • Atkins, Physical Chemistry 
  • Shriver and Atkins, Inorganic Chemistry 
  • Sykes, A Guide to Mechanism in Organic Chemistry 
  • Stepehnson, Mathematical Methods for Science Students

Do any college preliminary work set for you 

As well as a reading list you may also get set some summer work by your college. It is definitely worth taking the time to do these questions as thoroughly and well as you can, as they are designed to ensure you have the right foundational knowledge when starting your degree. 

Read around current Chemistry

It is also worth reading a little around the subject. This will get you into the right frame of mind for the independent study and discovery essential to a Chemistry degree. Any of the books we mentioned in our Chemistry reading list would be a great option, and will just reignite your interest in Chemistry, that perhaps dwindled a little over the tiresome revision period!


Remember: be excited! You’ve worked hard to get here, and it’s finally paid off. You get to study a degree you’re passionate about at a fantastic university: it’s an incredible opportunity. Come into the degree excited and ready to work, and you’ll be off to a flying start.

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