Do I need to do GCSE physics before A-level physics?

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Advanced-08234
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#1
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#1
I haven't done GCSE physics in years, but I did pass all my science GCSEs back then. I'm looking to take A-level physics along with maths and further maths . I have no issues with maths at all.

Would I need GCSE physics to do A-level physics?

I've been looking through an A-level physics textbook and it seems to start from very basic concepts such as the structure of the atom, but I'm not sure if I'll get to a point where I need to go back to GCSE physics, learn it all and then return to A-level.

I'm also a little confused because some topics in GCSE such as energy storage doesn't seem to reappear in A-level, although I suspect this knowledge is needed for say A-level mechanics. Other topics do seem to reappear such as VECTORS + FORCES and RESULTANT FORCE meaning that they're both featured in GCSE and A-level.

Thank you.
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effystonem
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#2
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I don’t know if this helps but I got A*s in Double Science, then did A level physics with no problem despite not doing the full GCSE Physics
Edit: In short no, you wouldn’t need to do GCSE Physics
Last edited by effystonem; 10 months ago
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Reality Check
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#3
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(Original post by Advanced-08234)
I haven't done GCSE physics in years, but I did pass all my science GCSEs back then. I'm looking to take A-level physics along with maths and further maths . I have no issues with maths at all.

Would I need GCSE physics to do A-level physics?

I've been looking through an A-level physics textbook and it seems to start from very basic concepts such as the structure of the atom, but I'm not sure if I'll get to a point where I need to go back to GCSE physics, learn it all and then return to A-level.

I'm also a little confused because some topics in GCSE such as energy storage doesn't seem to reappear in A-level, although I suspect this knowledge is needed for say A-level mechanics. Other topics do seem to reappear such as VECTORS + FORCES and RESULTANT FORCE meaning that they're both featured in GCSE and A-level.

Thank you.
Define 'years'.

If you've been out of education for a while, then it's essential that you reacquaint yourself with the GCSE content: science and maths at A level very much builds on what precedes it, and you need to have mastery of the basics (eg. GCSE content) before moving on. You will also find that the focus of the questions is different from when you originally took your GCE qualifications, so even more reason for spending some time on the GCSE content. If you're motivated and have a good level of science education/knowledge already, you have about six weeks until the start of a 'normal' school academic year which is an ideal time to go through the basics.

You sound confident of your maths - obviously I don't know the genesis of this confidence, but it would also be worth looking through the GCSE (Higher) content of that subject too: again to see what is currently being covered, how the questions are structured and for peace of mind that you're in the right place to plough on with the A level.
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Advanced-08234
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Define 'years'.

If you've been out of education for a while, then it's essential that you reacquaint yourself with the GCSE content: science and maths at A level very much builds on what precedes it, and you need to have mastery of the basics (eg. GCSE content) before moving on. You will also find that the focus of the questions is different from when you originally took your GCE qualifications, so even more reason for spending some time on the GCSE content. If you're motivated and have a good level of science education/knowledge already, you have about six weeks until the start of a 'normal' school academic year which is an ideal time to go through the basics.

You sound confident of your maths - obviously I don't know the genesis of this confidence, but it would also be worth looking through the GCSE (Higher) content of that subject too: again to see what is currently being covered, how the questions are structured and for peace of mind that you're in the right place to plough on with the A level.
May I ask what you mean by the focus of the questions changing?

I do have a good understanding of maths and physics. I've been going over the maths content for some time and it's basically just revision, although I can see that some of the topics have become more demanding. For example, quadratic factorisation by grouping has tougher questions that you would never see in the older GCSE specs. In terms of physics, I do understand the general concepts, but I think certain sections such as current and potential difference is something I'm going to have to redo. Other concepts such as vectors, scalars and resultant force are more of a brush up, although if you're going over them again in A-level then I don't think you'll need the GCSE aspects of it?

How have the GCSE physics questions changed in their nature?


If I were to go over maths and physics again then how long would it take me until you think I could be ready? What about if I just go over physics as I have been going over GCSE maths. I understand you don't completely know my background, but nonetheless I think it's worth asking to plan everything out.

Thank you.
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Reality Check
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#5
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(Original post by Advanced-08234)
May I ask what you mean by the focus of the questions changing?
This does depend on when you last took GCE examinations, hence my asking for you to 'define years'. Questions now are now much more about multi-part sequential problem solving than basic fact recall, and depending on how long it's been, you might find the style of questioning quite alien. It's a good idea to start to get an idea of exam technique' by doing some questions blind from past papers and then marking them strictly using a published mark scheme, to see how the examiners are awarding marks.


Other concepts such as vectors, scalars and resultant force are more of a brush up, although if you're going over them again in A-level then I don't think you'll need the GCSE aspects of it?
If you're happy that you know these topics to a GCSE-level Higher standard, then fine to just brush up.

How have the GCSE physics questions changed in their nature?
See above. It's all science GCSEs, not just physics - again, it depends how long ago it was that you first did public exams as to how alien the questioning might look.

If I were to go over maths and physics again then how long would it take me until you think I could be ready? What about if I just go over physics as I have been going over GCSE maths. I understand you don't completely know my background, but nonetheless I think it's worth asking to plan everything out.

Thank you.
How long is a piece of string? It entirely depends on how bright you are, how much you already know and how motivated you are. As I suggested in my earlier post, if you want to stick to doing it over a 'normal' GCE academic year (which is a good idea), then you have about six weeks before it starts, which is a good amount of time to get up to speed with stuff, if it's just 'getting up to speed' that is required. You may need more or less time, depending on how you find it, so you will need to be flexible.

A propos, exam boards publish schemes of work for their specifications. If you're a private candidate, you'll find these invaluable for fitting the content into an academic year in a logical and structured way. Also, if you're planning on using the A level physics for university entry, you'll need to take the NEA (non-examined assessment), which is otherwise known as a practical endorsement. This is difficult for private candidates unfortunately, and why most students are prevented from taking science A levels. It takes the form of a set number of practicals, in which you are required to show proficiency, and which a teacher/lecturer confirms t the exam board. Online extension colleges offer the NEA, but at a hefty fee (c. £1500) - alternatively, if you know a friendly school or a friendly teacher, you may be able to arrange it through them - almost certainly a cheaper option. Note that the overwhelming majority of universities will require you to have the NEA endorsement so it's advisable to start planning this early.
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Advanced-08234
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#6
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(Original post by Reality Check)
This does depend on when you last took GCE examinations, hence my asking for you to 'define years'. Questions now are now much more about multi-part sequential problem solving than basic fact recall, and depending on how long it's been, you might find the style of questioning quite alien. It's a good idea to start to get an idea of exam technique' by doing some questions blind from past papers and then marking them strictly using a published mark scheme, to see how the examiners are awarding marks.




If you're happy that you know these topics to a GCSE-level Higher standard, then fine to just brush up.



See above. It's all science GCSEs, not just physics - again, it depends how long ago it was that you first did public exams as to how alien the questioning might look.



How long is a piece of string? It entirely depends on how bright you are, how much you already know and how motivated you are. As I suggested in my earlier post, if you want to stick to doing it over a 'normal' GCE academic year (which is a good idea), then you have about six weeks before it starts, which is a good amount of time to get up to speed with stuff, if it's just 'getting up to speed' that is required. You may need more or less time, depending on how you find it, so you will need to be flexible.

A propos, exam boards publish schemes of work for their specifications. If you're a private candidate, you'll find these invaluable for fitting the content into an academic year in a logical and structured way. Also, if you're planning on using the A level physics for university entry, you'll need to take the NEA (non-examined assessment), which is otherwise known as a practical endorsement. This is difficult for private candidates unfortunately, and why most students are prevented from taking science A levels. It takes the form of a set number of practicals, in which you are required to show proficiency, and which a teacher/lecturer confirms t the exam board. Online extension colleges offer the NEA, but at a hefty fee (c. £1500) - alternatively, if you know a friendly school or a friendly teacher, you may be able to arrange it through them - almost certainly a cheaper option. Note that the overwhelming majority of universities will require you to have the NEA endorsement so it's advisable to start planning this early.
This does depend on when you last took GCE examinations, hence my asking for you to 'define years'. Questions now are now much more about multi-part sequential problem solving than basic fact recall, and depending on how long it's been, you might find the style of questioning quite alien. It's a good idea to start to get an idea of exam technique' by doing some questions blind from past papers and then marking them strictly using a published mark scheme, to see how the examiners are awarding marks.

I did mine approximately 10 years ago. I just looked through a bunch of past papers and they're exactly the same. I saw one question about a runner who recorded her run on a smart watch along with a graph of her run (velocity being a function of time). It then asked about velocity, deceleration, wave based questions, etc.

I guess what you're trying to explain is that you're effectively given a story and then a set of questions from multiple topics are based around that story. The runner with the smart watch would be an example as you're answering questions on the mechanics (based on the runners actual journey through her run) and waves topics (wireless connectively regarding the smart watch). Some questions are far more straight forward and don't have a story such as calculating alpha and beta decay of a particular isotope. This would be exactly how it was back in my day, except it seems like topics have more depth in comparison to my day, especially so in maths.



If you're happy that you know these topics to a GCSE-level Higher standard, then fine to just brush up.

My only concern is that some topics I don't have a clue about such as electricity, but if you're going over the topics again in A-level then I don't see the point. Some A-level topics are completely repeated such as atomic structure, alpha and beta decay, etc. It would be annoying and very disruptive if I had to spend months going over GCSE physics. Maths I'm still going over, but it's only just a brush up. For example, I completely understand trig and how it works to a GCSE standard, but I would probably still need to go over the questions in order to see how much they actually want you to know prior to attempting A-levels.



I have all the practical stuff sorted out, including where I'm going to sit it, etc. It's no issue at all.

Would you happen to have any other advice? I'm desperately trying to fix my life. I should have done all this years ago.

Thank you for your help.
Last edited by Advanced-08234; 10 months ago
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#7
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(Original post by Advanced-08234)
Would you happen to have any other advice? I'm desperately trying to fix my life. I should have done all this years ago.

Thank you for your help.
You sound very organised and clued-up to me, and that will stand you in good stead. In answer to your question, I'd say a top tip as a private candidate is to carefully devise an academic work schedule, using the exam boards schemes of work as a starting point, but you must build in sufficient 'gaps' for the points where life gets in the way. Studying as a mature adult is a totally different ballgame to studying as a 17-year-old, and all those things which you didn't have to worry about when you were doing them first time round, like keeping a house and, presumably, a job weren't calling on your time. A propos, it's also a good idea to get a private tutor, if you can afford it. If you meet with your tutor once a week or fortnight, they can really help check that you're on schedule and working at the right level, check your understanding of difficult topics and act as a sounding board. More practically, they can also give you an academic reference should the need arise, and give predicted grades for your UCAS application. Well worth it, if you can.

Come back to me if you've got any more questions, either now or in the future by tagging me in using the @ sign. Good luck with it.
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