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Classical A-level Physics textbook

  1. Mar 7, 2016 #1
    Hi, can someone refer me to a good, 'A' Level Physics textbook. Thank You
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2016 #2
    Hello Vjstylz,

    A levels are an extremely well developed and tested syllabus, they have their own specialized books which should always be your primary source. While there are several boards offering a levels (OCR, CIE, AQA etc..) each one have their own specialized self contained books with CDS and exercises. I recommend you definitely purchase these as they are always the go to source for A levels.

    As supplemental material, I can say the for dummies series or schaums outlines for physics may be good, but as a former a level student I know that the content in the official textbooks are nearly exactly what you need, but also need some further reading or learning because sometimes the explanations may not be good or lacking an interesting holistic explanation (this helps me remember some stuff easier later)

    I used a thing called a "learner guide" for CIE, it had a list of books officially endorsed by the UCLES (uni cambridge local examination syndicate) as primary material for physics. So definitely recommend that. Also since A levels are pretty rigorous (at least CIE), it would be good if you download the exact syllabus and go through it list wise (which is essential). I do not know which board you are from (though I suspect CIE) but I hope this helped.

    These books can be used as supplements to the a level book as well:
    - Halliday and resnick fundamentals of physics (a first uni level text, seems a bit crazy for me to recommend this but the explanations are really nice! only use for the relevant chapters!)
    - schaums outline of basic math with applications to science and engineering.

    These are the learner guides for all CIE subjects: I used them for myself and they definitely helped me a lot


    It is important to stick to the outcomes in the learner guide while studying books like schaums outlines or fundamentals of physics, because a levels only test the content in the learner guide, but rigourously. So say in the learner guide it says you must X Y, you read the standard text and found the explanation boring and not good enough, you open the other books to chapters which explain X Y Z, but you really don't need to focus much (or at all) on Z. It simply wont be tested. Another example is motion, a university level physics book would probably include 3 dimensional motion but A levels won't, you need to avoid learning what you don't need when studying for a levels. It's tough to explain but you will notice this when going through other books not designed for a level.
    This can only be done if you know what you have to learn. The syllabus outline ("learner guide") is impressively comprehensive in this regard. The standard textbooks are based on the learner guide 100%, so check your recommended textbook for physics. I took learner guides for all my subjects, my friends had them printed out and stuff..they also contain other important information.

    Hope I helped.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016
  4. Mar 16, 2016 #3
    I cannot say, though, that I was able to learn physics well from it. It may just be that I am poor learner, though.
  5. Mar 16, 2016 #4
    No obviously halliday and resnick is better..or schaums
    but you need to know where to draw the line I guess. no need to learn advanced stuff (time constraint) when u wanna do well at a levels. Is what i meant
  6. Mar 16, 2016 #5
    Sorry; I hardly learned anything with just that book.
  7. Mar 20, 2016 #6
    When books are not suiting your learning style, effort must be made to reproduce the information in a manner that suits you instead. I am into 3d art and love making things in wings 3d. After I failed or flunked my a levels (A*CDCC at A2) I knew the way I was learning was wrong. I tried out two things:

    1. Mindmaps; I used a software called freemind, u can find them on the net for free. I made this right now, in a few minutes. It follows the CIE books explanation, but is not complete (i did it from memory, dont have the book nor the original mindmap). Just to show you (there will be errors but bear):


    2. Making concepts which I didnt understand in wings 3d (difficult but doable). Recording motion in a lab: three ways: 1. Lightgates, ticker tape and radar...(in the book)

    and then you got onto the ad/disadvantages of using each method, I think radar would reflect the motion best, ticker tape, and then lightgates. Radar too high tech, light gates too, ticker tape too.
    But, ticker tape would also induce a force against the object (its not frictionless)..when I see this picture, i can see it..idk. So I think you have to try :) I know that no matter what, motivation is key. so, motivate yourself too.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2017
  8. Mar 20, 2016 #7


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    You know, if you don't learn anything from a book with 1000 pages, then that's probably your fault and not the book. Especially since Halliday and Resnick is a really standard book that a lot of students succesfully learned from.
  9. Mar 20, 2016 #8
    HRW is one of the most accessible introductory physics textbooks. Even with just the bare basics of calculus, one should be able to learn from it.
  10. Mar 20, 2016 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    Just out of curiosity from the other side of the Big Pond... does A level physics use any calculus? I'm thinking of the distinction between algebra/trig-based and calculus-based intro physics, over here.
  11. Mar 20, 2016 #10

    no, you dont need calculus..
    Basic algebra like knowledge of fractions, conversions of units, knowledge of trigonometry (basic SOHCAHTOA) area of a triangle stuff..etc..
    In A level mathematics is where calculus based physics is tested there are 4 modules, usually 2 are pure math, and 2 are applied math. The applied math modules for me were Mechanics 1, and Statistics 1. Those use calculus based physics. Also existing is the possibility of another qualification known as further maths, which is basically, more pure math and applied math.
    A level physics consists of 4 papers at both AS and A2 level, AS is like year 11 and A2 is year 12..
    1. Multiple choice (AS)
    2. Question answer. (AS)
    3. Question answer. (A2)
    4. Experimental and lab paper. (A2)
    Knowledge of calcullus can only help though. I heard some public schools in florida made CIE a levels mandatory, but a levels are more common nowadays.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
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