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24 Years old, returning to A-Levels. Need some advice. (Physics & Maths)

I am looking at changing careers to become a Physicist and I need some advice. It's been 8 years since school and my memory of my GCSE's are fuzzy and need to know whether my GCSE knowledge is going to be a problem. I'm going to be taking Physics, Chemistry, Maths & Further Maths in a distanced learning format.

I'm going to lay down some background so I can get some accurate advice.

I consider myself to be intelligent, I am the best learner of anyone I know and I've always been good at Maths & IT in particular. In school I never applied in any shape or form, I lazily made my way through it and the only time I ever did my homework was in detention. However I still scored B grade on every academic subject. Maths, Double Science, Core IT and Optional IT being the ones most relevant to Physics/Maths. If I applied myself there is no doubt I would've been an A/A* Student.

Now I guess what I need to know is how much of a disadvantage I would be at taking those A-Levels being 8 years removed from the subjects and whether or not I should take a GCSE course for Maths & Science.

Being that it will be via distanced learning is this a gap I could bridge easily just by using google to re-familiarise myself with the underlying concepts/formulas?

Also does anyone have any experience with Open Study College? They seem to be able to provide the most cost effective options for distanced learning that I've found.

Thanks for taking your time out to read and respond :smile:
Original post by hargre
Being that it will be via distanced learning is this a gap I could bridge easily just by using google to re-familiarise myself with the underlying concepts/formulas?

Of course. A levels are easy as long as you are familiar with questions. For revision use sites like savemyexams, studymind, etc. And use gceguide to get past papers. I would recommend working on past papers as much as possible. The questions are generally similar and repeated so working on them while also studying mark scheme answers will help you to master them quickly.
Why not just do 3 A levels instead of 4?
There's no need to re-do any GCSEs to refresh your memory.

If you come across any topics at A level that build upon GCSE knowledge that you've forgotten, then - as you say - just use Google to remind yourself.
Reply 4
Original post by Dnsnnssn
Why not just do 3 A levels instead of 4?

I want the best possible foundation for Physics and I don't think there's a better combination than those 4. Also I imagine this would give me a better chance of getting into a better University.
Original post by iyoyiyoy
Of course. A levels are easy as long as you are familiar with questions. For revision use sites like savemyexams, studymind, etc. And use gceguide to get past papers. I would recommend working on past papers as much as possible. The questions are generally similar and repeated so working on them while also studying mark scheme answers will help you to master them quickly.

Original post by DataVenia
There's no need to re-do any GCSEs to refresh your memory.

If you come across any topics at A level that build upon GCSE knowledge that you've forgotten, then - as you say - just use Google to remind yourself.

I thought this was the case but I couldn't find any information on this. Thank you both for your insights, I will go straight for A-Levels.
Original post by hargre
I want the best possible foundation for Physics and I don't think there's a better combination than those 4. Also I imagine this would give me a better chance of getting into a better University.


No university requires more than 3 A levels. The most important thing is to meet the grade requirements in 3 a levels and you have the best chance of doing this by taking 3 a levels.
You can just buy a gcse text book (second hand) and refresh yourself, maybe try past exams. No need to retake it good enough.
Original post by mqb2766
No university requires more than 3 A levels. The most important thing is to meet the grade requirements in 3 a levels and you have the best chance of doing this by taking 3 a levels.


Exactly, plus taking Science A levels as a private candidate is very expensive because of the need to take the practical endorsement - there is no need to take Chemistry.
Original post by EBluebear
Exactly, plus taking Science A levels as a private candidate is very expensive because of the need to take the practical endorsement - there is no need to take Chemistry.


Largely agree with this, though its worth noting that further maths isn't usually a requirement for physics, apart from oxbridge++ (and while its not strictly a requirement there, it pretty much is). FM is usually seen as "hard" and possibly more so given the OP needs to skill up on gcse stuff first, so it could be that chemistry would be a better choice which would be fine for a lot of physics courses. However, its up to the OP to guestimate whether they'd achieve the gradies required for oxbridge++ (assuming they'd want to apply there) and be realistic about the amount of work and any extra enrichment.
Reply 9
Original post by mqb2766
Largely agree with this, though its worth noting that further maths isn't usually a requirement for physics, apart from oxbridge++ (and while its not strictly a requirement there, it pretty much is). FM is usually seen as "hard" and possibly more so given the OP needs to skill up on gcse stuff first, so it could be that chemistry would be a better choice which would be fine for a lot of physics courses. However, its up to the OP to guestimate whether they'd achieve the gradies required for oxbridge++ (assuming they'd want to apply there) and be realistic about the amount of work and any extra enrichment.


Definitely want to try to get into Oxbridge. I've never struggled with mathematical conceptd and considered it to be my strongest subject in school. So I'm going to do the 3 that are required at Oxbridge as I'm confident in my ability to learn.

Being 24 and having a long time to ponder my future I know I can put in the work required.
Original post by hargre
Definitely want to try to get into Oxbridge. I've never struggled with mathematical conceptd and considered it to be my strongest subject in school. So I'm going to do the 3 that are required at Oxbridge as I'm confident in my ability to learn.

Being 24 and having a long time to ponder my future I know I can put in the work required.


Go for it, but be aware that schools usually require a 7 and sometimes an 8 at gcse maths to do FM. You were not at that level 8 years ago and, as you say, stuff is a bit fuzzy. Also, if you're seriously trying for oxford/bridge++, you'll need to do something like pat
https://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/study/undergraduates/how-apply/physics-aptitude-test-pat
and the supplementary learning that goes along with it. This is worth a read
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?p=88279630&highlight=Oxford%20Demystified%20-%20Physics

Also, isaac physics https://isaacphysics.org/ is a good site and the "books" (gcse & a level, £1 each) are worth getting. Not perfectly aligned to exam board/exam, but good complementary/supplementary material.
(edited 1 year ago)

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