How to Get an A* in A-Level Physics - Think Student (2023)

A-Level Physics can be regarded as one of the hardest A-Levels out there. This is no surprise when considering the complexity of the content, tough maths questions and practical elements. Getting an A* takes a lot of hard work and dedication but this article will give you some tips and advice for reaching the top grades in A-Level Physics.

The most important piece of advice for getting an A* in A-Level Physics is to practice as many past papers as you can! Alongside these, you should use the specification and examiners’ report to solidify your understanding of the course and how to answer exam questions. By using a variety of resources, you’ll strengthen and deepen your knowledge. Calculations and practical skills are also two important areas to cover before your exam to ensure you get the most marks.

1. To Get an A* in A-Level Physics, Past Papers are Essential

How to Get an A* in A-Level Physics - Think Student (1)Some students get into the bad habit of just making revision materials and avoid past papers but if you want to get the best grades in A-Level Physics, you need to complete every past paper you can find.

With past papers, go to your exam board’s website and work through every paper they have, including the specimen papers and any papers from older A-Levels. It’s worth noting that the specimen questions and old A-Level questions will be slightly different from the current exams but the actual physics doesn’t change so they are still great for practicing certain skills and topics.

Frustratingly, AQA only has two years of A-Level Physics past papers on their website so it’s important that you look at other exam boards as well. Although the syllabus has slight variations, most of the content will be the same and it is really valuable to practice questions in a style you are not used to.

The best way to stay organised when doing past papers is to make a list of every paper you can find and as you do each one, tick it off. Students who get A*s in A-Level Physics will have completed every past paper, and often done them more than once. By redoing papers, you can see how your grade has improved and if there are areas you continually make mistakes on.

(Video) How to Get an A* in A-Level Physics #shorts

As a rule of thumb, don’t look at the mark scheme when doing a past paper! You must at least try and answer the question first in the early stages of learning a topic, you might want to use some resources like your textbook or notes but, as your confidence increases, it’s best to work in exam conditions. Once you’ve attempted a question, look at the answer, annotate what you wrote and figure out how to improve next time, and what extra revision you need to do.

Here are some helpful links for finding past papers:

2. Use the Specification and Examiners’ Report if You Want to Get an A*

How to Get an A* in A-Level Physics - Think Student (2)Two crucial documents for A-Level Physics are the examiners’ report and the specification. Students who get As and A*s will use these to fully understand the content and organise their revision to be very effective.

The examiners’ report is a document that comes with every past paper; each question and a student’s answer is explained by the examiner and it highlights common mistakes and shows where past students across the country struggled. By reading these, you’ll begin to see how the exam board differentiates between low and high scoring students and it will prevent you from making the same mistakes as many other students.

Use the examiners’ report to make notes on topics that students often get wrong, common errors and correct formatting of your questions – if you learn these, you’ll easily reach the higher grades.

Each exam board’s specification breaks down the course content and tells you exactly what you need to know and learn. The best way to use these is as a revision checklist, as it ensures you cover every part of the course and prevents you missing out on any important content.

(Video) How I Got an A* in Physics A-level

Print off the specification and highlight each area in red, yellow, or green to show how confident you are. Over time, you can change the colours and see what areas you still need to focus on.

An alternative method is to tick off when you’ve done a certain type of revision for each point on the specification. Choose three or four types of revision materials like notes, a mindmap, flashcards or past papers. Work your way through each type and tick it off once you’ve done it. This means you’ll have really comprehensive resources and makes revision much easier.

However you decide to use it, the specification is great for organisation and will help you reach an A*.

3. You Need to Use a Variety of Resources to Get an A* in A-Level Physics

How to Get an A* in A-Level Physics - Think Student (3)Working solely from the textbook won’t allow you to reach the top grades in A-Level Physics so using a variety of resources is incredibly important.

YouTube videos are a really popular revision tool as they can recreate the feeling of being in a classroom but the information is delivered in 10 to 15 minutes. If you find yourself struggling with a specific topic, have a look and see what videos you can find. There are also specific YouTube channels that students find helpful such as Physics Online, Science Shorts, or GorillaPhysics. Although videos are great for revision, many students use them passively – they just sit and watch and expect to retain the information. To avoid doing this, make notes on the video and answer any of the questions that might be used in the video. This will make your revision far more productive.

To supplement your textbook, you may want to buy an additional revision guide. These guides can give a simpler explanation of certain concepts and often contain lots of practice questions. Although these revision guides can be helpful, don’t rely on them for the bulk of your revision as they don’t go into enough depth and the practice questions won’t really reflect the actual exam. Despite this, they can still be really useful when you’re first learning the content as they are a bit easier to understand.

(Video) How to get an A* in A Level Physics

Of all the resources available, the most valuable is probably your teacher! It’s common for students to get stuck, feel embarrassed and not want to ask for help – if you want to succeed in A-Level Physics, you need to get over this barrier. Your teachers have a wealth of knowledge and it’s their job to help and guide you so no matter how silly your question may seem, it’s always better to ask.

4. You Must Improve Your Maths Skills if You Want to Get the Best Grades

How to Get an A* in A-Level Physics - Think Student (4)Your success in A-Level Physics is greatly linked to your ability to handle maths related questions. Most A-Level Physics students take maths as well and this can really help with your understanding. If you don’t take maths, or still find yourself struggling, there are ways to tackle this.

The first step is to buy a Maths in A-Level Physics revision guide. These guides can be really useful as they simplify each topic, show the steps for each calculation and provide lots of practice questions. CGP sells one for £7.50 which has notes, step by step examples and questions for each topic. Another helpful book is Calculations For A-Level Physics which has a lot more content than the CGP version. However, it is more expensive at £31.50 and was last published in 2002, so some parts may not be relevant to the new course. Before investing in any books, check with your school library to see if there are any books you can borrow and ask your teachers if they have any recommendations.

As I mentioned previously, YouTube videos can be really helpful for revision and they can also be great if you’re struggling with maths. Just search for the topic you’re struggling with and watch videos that clearly explain each step, and show example questions. With maths questions, it’s all about following a sequence so watching these videos can help you retain those steps and recreate them in the exam.

The best way to improve your maths is to practice. Earlier, I said you should try to work through every past paper – if you do this, you’ll tackle lots of maths questions and really be able to practice. It’s all about learning the methods, being good at problem solving and knowing where the marks come from, and practice is the only way to develop those skills.

If you’re thinking of doing A-Level Maths (or are already doing it), make sure you read our article on how you can get the top grades, check it out here.

(Video) HOW I GOT AN A* IN A-LEVEL PHYSICS | *Optimal method*

5. To Get an A* in A-Level Physics, You Need to be Confident with Practical Questions

How to Get an A* in A-Level Physics - Think Student (5)For the major exam boards, your last exam paper will have a big focus on practical skills and experiments. Many students struggle here as it can be hard to visualise and explain the experiments, so it’s best to tackle those types of questions early on.

Although your practical endorsement is pass or fail and doesn’t contribute to your grade, your practical book is a really useful revision resource. Use it to recap the experiments, see what kind of apparatus is needed and understand the physics behind your results.

You probably don’t want to hear any more about practice papers, but they are the best way to revise for the practical questions! They accurately show what the questions will be like and you can look at the mark scheme to pinpoint where certain marks come from.

In terms of essential knowledge, it’s really good to know the various apparatus for each experiment and why they would be used. You may need to draw diagrams and annotate, so being familiar with the equipment is really important! Feeling confident with drawing and analysing graphs is another skill to work on; even simple things like drawing a tangent or highlighting outliers can get you vital marks.

Some practicals you will have done at the beginning of year one or you may have missed the lesson altogether – this is when videos can be really helpful. Physics Online has a video explaining each required practical for AQA and shorter videos for the OCR practicals. GorillaPhysics has a long video focused on the Edexcel specification which explains every core practical and goes through questions.

Although the required practicals can be tricky, lots of practice questions and reviewing your notes will really build your understanding and help you achieve an A* in your exam.

(Video) HOW TO GET AN A* IN PHYSICS A-LEVEL: a step-by-step guide to revision


How hard is it to get an A * in A Level Physics? ›

Firstly the average pass rate across all A-Levels (meaning all those who got A*-E) is 97.6%. In comparison, the pass rate for Physics is 95.3%. Therefore, according to the pass rates (more detail here), A-Level Physics is harder than the average A-Level. How Much Content is There in the Physics A-Level Syllabus?

How many people get an A * in A Level Physics? ›

Compiled by Education Datalab, the tables show entries have risen, increasing from 34,831 last year to 36,021 this year. The proportion reaching the top grades has decreased, with 8.5 per cent getting an A*, down from 9.3 per cent last year, and 27.5 per cent getting an A or A*, down from 29.2 per cent in 2018.

What is the best way to get an A * at A level? ›

How to revise for A-levels
  1. Be organised. Plan out your revision by making a revision timetable. ...
  2. Give yourself plenty of time. ...
  3. Understand the assessment objectives. ...
  4. Try different learning methods. ...
  5. Use different learning materials. ...
  6. Practice past papers. ...
  7. Take breaks. ...
  8. Remove distraction.
20 Sept 2022

Is 80% an A at A level? ›

The A* at A Level is awarded to candidates who achieve a grade A on the A Level overall (80%), and who also achieve at least 90% on the uniform mark scale (UMS) across their A2 units.

What grade is 60% at A level? ›

If students have over 80% of UMS marks with an average of 90% across A2 modules they are awarded an A*, 80+% is also an A grade, 70-79% offers a B grade, 60-69% is C, 50-59% is D and 40-49% offers you the bottom pass E grade.

Is an A * equivalent to A 9? ›

GCSE grading system (numbers to letters)

With 9 Being the highest score and 1 the lowest (not including U for ungraded). A score of 9, 8, and 7 are equivalent to an A* and A. The following image shows a visual representation of the letter to number translation.

Is a level physics harder than chemistry? ›

A-Level Chemistry comes in at a very close third to A-Level Physics, in fact, it is quite hard to differentiate the difficulty level between the two!

Is 2 Months enough to revise for A levels? ›

Whilst two months might seem like a lot of time, the amount of content at A level is overwhelming for many students. A level contains an extensive amount of content compared to GCSE, meaning that students have to work harder to learn and memorise the specification for each subject.

How many hours a day should an A level student study? ›

In theory, you should revise for about two hours every day in the month leading up to your exam. That should allow you enough time to perfect your exam technique in time to ace those exams. You can take breaks on the weekends if it works for you, but that means you should revise for a little bit longer each day.

What does D * mean in A levels? ›

This type of qualifications is given a ranked grade, this is because the awarding body recognises that the student has achieved the qualification and recognises highest to lowest levels in performance. The highest-grade being Distinction star and the lowest grade Pass. Possible grades: DS* = Distinction star.

How easy is it to get an A * at A level? ›

It's rather easy to get an A, even A*, in mathematics. All you have to do is to memorize some formulae and do a lot of past papers. While questions in Politics past papers repeated once in 2 years, Physics papers used to be quite tricky to crack even after looking into over 10 years papers.

What are the hardest A-Levels? ›

The 12 hardest A-Level subjects are Mathematics, Further Mathematics, History, Chemistry, Biology and Physics. The list also includes English Literature, Art, Psychology, Computer Programming and Music.

What percentage of girls take physics at A level? ›

Of the other subjects with a very high proportion of male students, physics and further maths have seen small increases in the proportion of female students since 2017 – from 21 to 23% in physics and from 27 to 29% in further maths – while economics has remained steady at 31%.

Is a 90% grade an A? ›

A - is the highest grade you can receive on an assignment, and it's between 90% and 100% B - is still a pretty good grade! This is an above-average score, between 80% and 89%

Is 90% A or an? ›

What are letter grades and how do they convert to percentages? Common examples of grade conversion are: A+ (97–100), A (93–96), A- (90–92), B+ (87–89), B (83–86), B- (80–82), C+ (77–79), C (73–76), C- (70–72), D+ (67–69), D (65–66), D- (below 65).

When did a * at A level start? ›

The A* grade was introduced in 2010 and is awarded to candidates who average 80% UMS across all modules, with a score over 90% UMS in all A2 modules.

Is 70% an A grade? ›

However, the reputation of British higher education is largely attributed to such efficient education and grading system.
The UK Grading System and ETCS grades.
Degree ClassPercentage ScoreETCS Grade
First-Class Degree70% -100%A
Upper Second-Class Degree60% – 69%B
3 more rows

What GCSE grade is 70 %? ›

So 70 would be a Grade 6, but 69 would be a Grade 5. The GCSE grade boundaries are now only being released to students on results day, whereas previously they were published in advance.

Is D * Same as A *? ›

A distinction* (D*) at Btec is equivalent in the Ucas tariff to an A*, whereas a distinction (D) is the same as an A. An A* at A-level is worth 56 Ucas points, while an A will get you 48 points.

Is B * A grade? ›

This is the most used grading system; however, there are some schools that use an edited version of the college system, which means 89.5 or above becomes an A average, 79.5 becomes a B, and so on.
Grade conversion.
Letter GradePercentageGPA
9 more rows

Is Grade 7 an A? ›

The highest grade you can get is a 9, with 1 being the lowest. This system was introduced in 2017, replacing the old GCSE grading system that awarded students letter grades from A* to G. In the current grading system, a score of 9, 8 and 7 are equivalent to an A* and A.

Can you get an A * in A Level physics? ›

Students who get A*s in A-Level Physics will have completed every past paper, and often done them more than once. By redoing papers, you can see how your grade has improved and if there are areas you continually make mistakes on.

How many people fail A-Levels? ›

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) said the overall pass rate – the proportion of entries graded A* to E – fell by 1.1 percentage points from 99.5% in 2021 to 98.4% this year.

Which is easiest science A level? ›

The easiest A Level science is Biology because the grade boundaries are lower than in Physics or Chemistry. In that respect, it's usually considered the easiest A Level science. Having said that, Biology has a lot of information to learn and will require plenty of study time.

What is the least popular A level? ›

The 10 Least Popular A-Level Subjects – Ranked for 2022
  1. Environmental studies.
  2. Home Sciences. ...
  3. Performing Arts. ...
  4. Information Technology. ...
  5. Geography. ...
  6. Modern Foreign Languages. ...
  7. Religious Studies. ...
  8. Media / Film Studies. ...
15 May 2021

What is the most popular A level subject? ›

Sciences. Broadly speaking, entries to science subjects have increased since 2001. Biology remains the most popular of the three, with chemistry and physics lagging behind.

How hard is it to get 3 A stars at A level? ›

28.9% of all students got 3 A grades or better at A level (including students whose ethnicity was not known)

How late is too late to revise for A-levels? ›

The short answer is, it's never too late – but starting later than 2 weeks before your first A-Level exam is too late… As I've already said, any revision is better than no revision at all. It's never too late to start making an effort to improve your A-Level results.

Is 5 hours revision a day enough? ›

According to The Student Room, students revise 15 to 20 hours per week for their exams, which might sound a lot until you break it down. You've probably worked it out for yourself, but the recommended time equates to three to five hours of revision per day with weekends off!

Is 1 day enough to revise for a test? ›

It's possible to revise for an exam in a day. This plan partly relies on the strength of your lecture notes and attendance throughout the course.

When should I start revising for my A levels? ›

Planning is the key to effective revision. Reports from WhatUni agree that four to five weeks (around a month before your first exam) is the minimum time you should set yourself to revise. So if your first exam is in the middle of May, you might want to start revising during or just after the Easter holidays.

Is 4 hours studying a day enough? ›

Study Every Day: Establish a daily routine where you study in one place a minimum of 4 -5 hours each day. There are different kinds and 'levels' of study discussed below. What is important is that study becomes the centerpiece of your day and the continuous element in your work week. Do not wait for exam-time to study.

Is studying 7 hours a day healthy? ›

Although studies are still inconclusive on the topic, based on our research most students can study about 7 or 6 hours per day and still stay effective. However, the total time can vary depending on numerous factors and is different from student to student.

Is 68 a good grade UK? ›

When you start at university, any mark over 50% is a great grade. Getting a mark over 50% means that you are beginning to understand the difficult work of your degree. Getting over 60% is excellent because it means you have demonstrated a deep knowledge of your subject to the marker.

Is 78 a good mark in university UK? ›

In the UK they grade on what amounts to a seven-point scale. 70% or above is the top band of marks. It is still relatively rare for a student to receive higher than an 80%, though it does happen. Anything in the 60% range—what is known as a 2:1—is considered a “good” grade.

Is doing 4 A-Levels worth it? ›

You may end up with 4 A-Levels, but 4 Ds won't get you very far. It's also good for when you start looking for jobs. Taking 4 A-Levels as opposed to 3 will definitely make you stand out from other applicants applying for the same job. 4 A-Levels aren't just for entry level work, either.

Can you get into Cambridge with A * A * A? ›

The entry requirements for its most competitive courses, including Medicine, Computer Science and Architecture, are A*A*A-A*AA. Unlike many other universities, Cambridge also looks at your previous academic track record when deciding who to offer places to.

Is it harder to get a 9 GCSE or A * A level? ›

Since the government grading system changed to the new numerical system running from 9 to 1 (from the older A* to G system), it is now much harder to get the highest grade. Getting a 9 in GCSE Maths is a higher grade than an A* was, as it is meant to differentiate the very top achieving pupils.

Is PE a respected A level? ›

A Level Physical Education is a well-respected, academic A Level and is considered to be a science subject by many major Universities.

What are the 3 easiest A-Levels? ›

What are the 12 easiest A-Level subjects?
  • Classical Civilisation. Classical Civilisation is a particularly easy A-Level, especially as you don't need to learn languages such as Greek or Latin. ...
  • Environmental Science. ...
  • Food Studies. ...
  • Drama. ...
  • Geography. ...
  • Textiles. ...
  • Film Studies. ...
  • Sociology.

Is Physics A-Level harder than maths? ›

Based on this index, physics is graded most severely. Chemistry, biology, further maths and computer science are also graded more severely than maths. As we shall see, these are subjects that many physics students also take.

Is biology or Physics A-Level harder? ›

In order of easiest to most difficult, our list of the top 15 hardest A-Levels are: Art, Design & Technology (Product Design), Business Studies, Politics, Economics, History, English Literature, Psychology, Modern Languages, Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, Further Mathematics, and Physics.

How many students get A * in A-Level physics? ›

The proportion reaching the top grades has decreased, with 8.5 per cent getting an A*, down from 9.3 per cent last year, and 27.5 per cent getting an A or A*, down from 29.2 per cent in 2018. This year, 95.2 per cent passed the course, down from 95.8 per cent last year.

What is the hardest part of A-Level physics? ›

Many consider A level physics as one of the more difficult subjects.
Below, we discuss the most difficult topics in A level physics.
  • Electricity and magnetism. Understanding electricity and magnetism are crucial if you want to build a solid foundational physics knowledge. ...
  • Newtonian mechanics. ...
  • Maths.

Who is better in physics male or female? ›

Men and women perform equally well in introductory physics courses, according to a new study that looked at the exam grades of over 10,000 students.

Is getting a * at A level hard? ›

For the A Levels that I did, it's fairly easy so long as you don't slack off and have some natural aptitude for the subjects -- you won't be able to get A*s with four hours' revision like at GCSE, however. I learned that the hard way.

What is the hardest topic in A level physics? ›

Below, we discuss the most difficult topics in A level physics.
  • Electricity and magnetism. Understanding electricity and magnetism are crucial if you want to build a solid foundational physics knowledge. ...
  • Newtonian mechanics. ...
  • Maths.

How much do you need to get a * in A level? ›

This approach means that as long as a student achieves enough marks at subject level (76 or more in this example), they will receive an A* grade. It doesn't matter how they get their 76 marks. One student could score full marks (60/60) on paper 1 and 16/40 marks on paper 2 (60+16=76).

Is 3 A * in A level good? ›

It's still a great amount of A-Levels and will get you into uni. 3 A-Levels is definitely enough to get you into university (and even one of the top universities in the UK).

What are the 3 hardest A levels? ›

What are the hardest A-Levels?
  • Psychology.
  • English Literature. ...
  • History. ...
  • Economics. ...
  • Politics. ...
  • Business Studies. ...
  • Design & Technology (Product Design) ...
  • Art. Surprisingly, Art A-Level is often ranked among some of the most difficult A-Level subjects to take, despite the common assumption that it is a 'soft' subject. ...

What percentage of people get 3 A * s at A level? ›

The data shows that: 28.9% of all students got 3 A grades or better at A level (including students whose ethnicity was not known)

Is physics A level harder than chemistry? ›

A-Level Chemistry comes in at a very close third to A-Level Physics, in fact, it is quite hard to differentiate the difficulty level between the two!

Is physics A level harder than biology? ›

One might perceive Biology as the most challenging subject, while another one might consider Physics as the hardest A-Level course. All three A-Level courses, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, consist of relatively easy or tough sections, which again entirely depend on a specific individual's enthusiasm.

What are the top 10 hardest A-Levels? ›

10 Hardest A-Levels For Students
  • Computer Science. ...
  • Biology. ...
  • English Literature. ...
  • Physics. ...
  • Chemistry. ...
  • Further Maths. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Modern Foreign Languages. This consists of Spanish, French, and German, all of which are in part derived from Latin.
11 Aug 2022

Is 70% an A in A levels? ›

Each A Level award, in each subject that a student has taken, is graded on a scale from A* through to E (or U, unclassified).
A Level Grading System.
A*90% +
3 more rows
31 Aug 2022

Is an A * equivalent to a 9? ›

GCSE grading system (numbers to letters)

With 9 Being the highest score and 1 the lowest (not including U for ungraded). A score of 9, 8, and 7 are equivalent to an A* and A. The following image shows a visual representation of the letter to number translation.

Do you need 4 A levels for Oxford? ›

If you're thinking of applying to Oxford, Cambridge or another top university, you might feel you need to take four A levels to prove that you are clever or to get a competitive edge. However, taking extra A levels isn't necessarily the best way to do this, and there's the potential for your plan to backfire.


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