How Hard is A-level Physics and Other Related Questions?

A-level Physics is one of the most important and essential subjects for many undergraduate degrees and programs. A-level Physics is a difficult subject, however, it is highly regarded and respected.

This article has been written to help you understand and determine how difficult A-level Physics is, and whether it is a good choice for you.

How Hard is A-level Physics?

A-level Physics is one of the hardest A-level subjects due to a large syllabus, difficult concepts, labs components, and challenging exams featuring a lot of mathematics.

The major reason most people find A-levels challenging is because of the complicated mathematics involved. Maths is a highly abstract subject and it is difficult to understand.

How much maths is involved in A-level Physics? In short, most of the Mathematics involved in A-level Physics is practical in nature. To give you an idea, the maths will be similar to GCSE level but more applied than pure.

Luckily you will not need to know Calculus, Trigonometric Proofs, Series and Sequences, Exponentials and Logarithms.

You will, however, need to have a solid understanding of GCSE level Maths as well as A-level Physics concepts, in order to answer the questions.

Furthermore, the syllabus is massive. A-level Physics, especially the second year has one of the greatest syllabi. All the content requires in-depth understanding to successfully write the exams There is almost no rote learning, instead you must focus on the theories and abstraction.

The lab component in A-level Physics requires a lot of practice and expertise to master. You are also required to design your own experiment for one of the questions.

I would rate the difficulty of A-level Physics to be similar to that of Chemistry and Mathematics. However, it is not as difficult as A-level Further Maths.

How Difficult is the Content of A-level Physics?

How Difficult is the Content of A-level Physics?

A-level Physics has an extensive syllabus and the content is quite difficult. The subject content has many challenging concepts which are hard to understand due to their complex nature.

The A-level syllabus has a large number of topics including the following:

  • Physical Quantities and Units
  • Measurement Techniques
  • Kinematics and Dynamics
  • Motion in a Circle
  • Gravitational Fields
  • Ideal Gases
  • Temperature and Thermal Properties
  • Forces, Density and Pressure
  • Work, Energy, and Power
  • Deformation of Solids
  • Waves
  • Oscillations
  • Superposition
  • Electric Fields
  • Current of Electricity
  • DC Circuits
  • Alternating Currents
  • Capacitance
  • Electronics
  • Magnetic Fields and Electromagnetic Induction
  • Particle and Nuclear Physics
  • Quantum Physics

As-level Physics has the same topics that you have already learnt in GCSE level Physics. You can see for yourself in the first half of the list.

As-level Physics teaches GCSE level topics in significantly more detail. The exam-style, structure, and marking become harsher.

A-level Physics on the other hand has entirely new topics which you have never learnt before. A-level Physics has even more challenging and difficult questions.

Year 13 topics are very abstract in nature and you need to rely on the experiments of former scientists rather than seeing them for yourself in the labs. For example, it is easy to conduct an experiment to test kinematics but practically impossible to conduct experiments for Quantum Mechanics at the A-level.

Year 13 topics are very abstract in nature and you need to rely on the experiments of former scientists rather than seeing them for yourself in the labs. For example, it is easy to conduct an experiment to test kinematics but practically impossible to conduct experiments for Quantum Mechanics at the A-level.

How Difficult are the A-level Physics Exams?

A-level Physics exams are some of the hardest exams students have sat in their lives. They include difficult questions and several calculations. They have a rigid structure and you must answer all the parts in order to get the final answer.

Most of the GCSE level questions had one or two steps at most. A-level exam questions have multiple parts and you often have to manipulate the formulas in order to adjust to the demands of the question.

A-level Physics exam questions do not have a set structure. There can be a wide variety and style of questions and the marks for each question can be anywhere between one mark to fifteen marks.

What are the Pass rate and Grade Boundaries for A-level Physics?

The pass rate for A-level Physics is around 95% which is lower than the average pass rate for A-levels which is usually around 97-98%. This explains the relative difficulty of A-level Physics when compared with other A-level subjects.

The Usual Grade Boundaries for A-level Physics are the following range:

A* – 65-70% 

A –  55-65%

B –  45-55%

C –  35-45%

D – 25-35%

E –  20%

This can also help you appreciate the relative difficulty of A-level Physics. The grade boundaries may seem low at first but the examiners harsh marking and complicated questions make getting good grades in A-level Physics a real challenge.

What are A-level Physics Classes Like?

What are the Minimum Requirements to Study A-level Physics?

A-level Physics Classes are extremely interesting and fun. However, there is a fair amount of struggle in attempting the calculations required and understanding the difficult concepts. Overall they can be a great experience in understanding the Physical world.

The lab classes are the most relaxing. Most of the debates and lively discussions happen in the lab sessions.

Throughout the regular classes, you will be exposed to a variety of topics and you must try to understand everything. Memorizing will not take you far in A-levels.

In the exams, you will be introduced to new situations and problems that you have never experienced before. This will be the real test of your analytical skills and building on the core concepts you have already learnt in the classes.

If you are willing to put in the work in learning the necessary maths and understanding the concepts the exams will be a breeze for you. More importantly, the knowledge and practical skills you have learnt in Physics will prove to be invaluable for you in the future.

A-level Physics will allow you to become more comfortable in researching and analyzing the different aspects of the natural and physical world.

Many a times you will be stuck with Physics problem that seem impossible to solve; by asking your friends and classmates for help you can develop strong communicational skills and bonds.

Furthermore, there are many ways to approach a problem and often enough you will realize that someone else’s technique is more suitable. Physics will allow you to interact and make your understanding of the physical world stringer and deeper.

What are the Minimum Requirements to Study A-level Physics?

To study any subject at A levels you require at least five GCSE subjects with at least a 4 (or C) in each of those subjects. You must have also studied A level English.

Similarly, the minimum requirements to study A-level Physics as stated by the majority of colleges, is a 6 in GCSE Maths and GCSE Combined Science or Triple Science and a 5 in GCSE English.

These requirements are placed to ensure the students are able to cope up with A-level Physics and do not end up dropping it due to the difficulty.

If you do not meet the requirements, you can still study A-level Physics. You can explain to your college the reasons that prevented you from getting good grades in your GCSE and how you plan to succeed in your A-levels. Most colleges will respond positively.

Some of those colleges might give you extra work to help bridge the gap and ensure you do well at A-levels. These minimum requirements are only a guideline and they should be taken as such.

If you have a strong passion in Physics and if it is an integral subject to the university degree you want to apply to, then definitely go for it. Physics is a subject that you can master with a lot of hard work and dedication.

What can A-level Physics Lead to?

A-level Physics can provide you with the mathematical, analytical and scientific skills to pursue an undergraduate in Physics and related fields. Physics will help you understand and acknowledge the physical world better.

A degree in Physics will allow you to pursue a career in many fields including Engineering, IT, Business, Finance, Teaching, Computer Science, Software and many other fields.

It will also give you countless research opportunities. This is because Physics is continuously evolving and there is always a huge demand for high-quality researchers.

Many Physics degree holders decide to teach. You can do this at schools or give tuitions. You also have the chance to start a Youtube channel and sell your courses online. It takes a lot of time and dedication to set up something online, but then you can earn passively from those sources for years to come.


A-level Physics is no doubt a challenging subject. But it is also a subject anyone can easily master by practice and more practice.

A-level grades are proportional to the time and effort you put in them. Physics will help you refine your thinking and make it more analytical. It will truly transform your mathematical reasoning.

There is a preconceived notion that Physics is a useless degree. It is true that most jobs do not specifically require a Physics degree. However, the skills you learn and the value of a Physics degree will make you employable almost everywhere.

A physics degree is one of the most difficult degrees. Employers recognize this and they will reward you accordingly.