A-Level Physics Transition Work

Welcome to A-Level Physics! Let me first take an opportunity to introduce myself, I’m Mr Thorne, Director of Science and Head of Physics and should you have any questions about the transition work, equipment, reading, or just have some excellent science you’d like to discuss feel free to email me at
The Physics transition tasks are outlined below and serve several purposes;
• reinforce ideas and concepts from GCSE,
• extended your learning taking it beyond the GCSE syllabus
• provide a stretch and challenge to keep your mind active
• allow us to hit the ground running when you enter the A-level course in September.

When we start the next school year we will use some of the first lessons back to consolidate the work and information you have gained during these exercises so please keep this work safe.

Task 1 – Practice Makes Permanent

There are 2 resource sheets at the bottom of this page which you will need to complete to help familiarise yourself with the content which you have previously covered but can be extended a little further.
1. Yr 12 Physics Transition Work (1)
2. Yr 12 Physics Transition Work (2)

Task 2 – Extended Maths Problems

Your GCSE would have featured a range of stretching maths problems very much like the sort of challenges you will face in the A-level. Using GCSE equations only you need to make your way through the list of problems on the question sheet “Unstructured Question Practice” and show clearly how you can arrive at a final value. Some of them may require a bit of estimation so you can use a ballpark figure or look one up.

One of my favourite questions is “How far up Mount Everest could you climb using the energy in a Mars bar” – there are lots of potential ways to tackle this problem but they all involve good estimation work and an ability to combine equations.

 Task 3 – Isaac Physics

1. Set up an account on the Isaac Physics website:
2. Join the group with the link code:
3. You will find several “boards” which are just their name for extended questions which you can work your way through. Isaac Physics may be a tool you are familiar with but if not then it is a very handy website which can show you through the stages of a calculation without just revealing the answer. We will use Isaac Physics throughout the A-level so it’s great to be set-up on it already!

*One thing to be aware of – Isaac Physics is very picky when it comes to significant figures so read the question very carefully to see how many you should be using. If it doesn’t say then most of the

*If you have some extra down-time you can try your hand at any “board” you don’t need to be assigned to it, be aware that some of the questions are very tricky (I use them as prep for our Oxford and Cambridge applicants) but you can select the difficulty from 1-6.

 Task 4 – How Ready for the GCSE Are You?

Missing out on all the revision that you would have normally completed ahead of your GCSE might seem great at the moment but we don’t want you to miss out on all the opportunities for consolidation. The International GCSE papers can be very tricky and we would like you to give a go of one to test your mind and see how you would have done.
• You can access the papers here;
o Multiple Choice Paper:
o Theory Paper:
o Alternative to Practical Paper:

• When you’re finished the mark scheme can be accessed here;
o Multiple Choice Paper:
o Theory Paper:
o Alternative to Practical Paper:

 Task 5 – Getting Equipment

Physics book

Before you start your A-level there is some equipment you’ll need for lessons and we can use this period to ensure you have everything ready.
1. Aside from the stationary basics you will also require a 30cm ruler, a protractor, a plotting compass,
2. A good scientific calculator like the ones you will use for Maths (if you aren’t doing Maths then at least a Casio fx 85GT or similar is needed).
3. A text book will be your guide at home, the best course text book is “A Level Physics for OCR A Student Book” by G. Chadha. You will require a textbook for the course and we will make use of it for homework’s so it's a great tool to have ahead of time.

 Extension Tasks and Other Ideas

Wider Reading: Getting to explore new elements of Physics
Some of you will have the opportunity and motivation for additional reading so I have attached a list of recommended reading which can be accessed through online shops such as Amazon. My personal favourite is the work of Michio Kaku but others might enjoy some of the more grounded Physics! I think even sci-fi reading like Arthur C. Clark can help explain some wonderful scientific ideas in a much lighter way.
In addition to the reading there are absolutely tonnes of excellent programmes and Podcasts on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds and YouTube of which I have also featured a small selection below.

Physics Reading List Years 11-13
· Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics – Jim Al-Khalili
· The Universe in a Nutshell – Stephen Hawking
· A Very Short Introduction…
o Particle Physics, Quantum Theory, Chaos, Magnetism, Superconductivity, Galaxies, Stars, Planets, Radioactivity, Nuclear Power, Physics Chemistry, The Laws of Thermodynamics
· Six Easy Pieces – Richard P. Feynman
· Surely you’re Joking Mr Feynman - Richard P. Feynman
· In search of Schrödingers’s Cat – John Gribbon
· QED – Richard Feynman
· How to Teach Relativity to you Dog – Chad Orzel
· Stephen Hawking: A Graphic Guide – JP McEvoy and Oscar Zararte
· A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
· Carrying the Fire – Michael Collins
· Why don’t penguins’ feet freeze? – New Scientist
· Physics of the Impossible - Michio Kaku
· Physics of the Future – Michio Kaku
· An Ocean of Air – Gabrielle Walker
· The Never Ending Days of Being Dead – Marcus Chown
· 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense – Michael Brookes
· What if – Randall Munroe

Science Fiction to keep the imagination alive;
· Anything by Arthur C. Clarke
• 2001: A Space Odyssey,
• Rendezvous with Rama,
• Childhoods End
· The Martian – Andy Weir

MOOC – Massively Open Online Courses

You might wish to do a FutureLearn MOOC - MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and is co-ordinated by Futurelearn. There are literally thousands of courses, some are as short as an hour and others longer. You can do these courses whether they are currently live or archived. They have videos, questions, quizzes and if they are currently live you can engage in the online discussion forums. You don’t need to pay for these courses (unless you want a certificate which you don’t need) and you don’t need to do the whole of any course. If you start a course and it gets too hard or you are no longer finding it interesting then you don’t need to pursue it. A few that have caught my eye include;
Science of Nuclear Energy:
How do Planes Fly?

Yr12 Physics Transition Work 1
Yr12 Physics Transition Work 2