Preparing For A Level

Return to A Level

So, you've finished your GCSEs and are preparing to start your A level studies. What can you do between now and then to keep yourself "in the zone"? 

Firstly, make sure that if there was anything from GCSE that you didn't quite get, or just muddled through, you have a look at it and try to sort out your confusion. Textbooks, the internet, your peers, even your teachers can help. A level will mostly build on existing knowledge so make sure it's not shaky to start with. 

Secondly, read things. Some of our favourite physics books are listed below, though there are many other. A textbook would be fine if you're looking to get ahead in your studies. But we believe that being inspired by physics is more important than knowing next year's syllabus. We'll be teaching that in classes anyway. Find something that grabs your interest and read it. 

Next, get involved. Check out the Institute of Physics - School and college students | Institute of Physics ( There are many free lectures available in London and surrounding area, too. The IoP organise some talks and most universities run them too (Imperial and UCL are popular ones). The more you do, the more you know. And, if you're applying for a science/engineering course at university, it shows an interest in the subject beyond your lessons. 

Finally, browse physics or science websites - including YouTube. There are some great physics videos out there - . Whilst we could suggest some syllabus-specific skills and knowledge to look at, just find something that interests you. We cover the basics of the interesting physics at A level; there is plenty of more exciting stuff out there if you look for it. The more you have to bring to next year's lessons, the more you will take away with you.

Return to A Level

Some suggested reading

This is, in no particular order, a list of some of the favourite books of the physics department. We will add more as we find/remember them:

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman!” by Richard Feynman

“QED” by Richard Feynman

“Six Easy Pieces” by Richard Feynman

“Relativity” by Albert Einstein

“Chaos” by James Gleik

“Science: A History” by John Gribbin

“In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat” by John Gribbin

“Schrodinger’s Kittens” by John Gribbin

“Why does E=mc2?” by Jeff Forshaw and Brian Cox

“When the Uncertainty Principle Goes to 11: Or How to Explain Quantum Physics with Heavy Metal” by Philip Moriarty

“The Infinite Book” by John D Barrow

“The Prism & The Pendulum – The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments In Science” by Robert P Crease

“The Great Equations” by Robert P Crease

“How to Teach Relativity To Your Dog” by Chad Orzel

“How to Teach Quantum Mechanics To Your Dog” by Chad Orzel

"The Physics of Superheroes" by James Kakalios

“Paradox” by Jim Al-Khalili

“A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

"Brief Answers to the Big Questions" by Stephen Hawking

"The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

"The Planet Factory" by Elizabeth Tasker

"Our Universe" by Jo Dunkley

"The End of Everything" by Katie Mack

"Computing With Quantum Cats" by John Gribbin

"Light Speed" by John Spence

"How To Dunk A Doughnut" by Len Fisher