Which is the Hardest Science A-Level?

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Biology vs. Chemistry vs. Physics?

In the 21st century, technology is gradually becoming an integral part of our daily life. Various technological advancements have improved the quality of life through the enhancement of different educational resources. It is evident that without the development of specific techniques or equipment, scientific fields, including but not limited to Biology, Chemistry, or physics, would not have been as promising as they are nowadays.

Since the scientific areas mentioned above play one of the critical roles in our daily life activities, it is of crucial importance to give individuals the enthusiasm to become successful scientists. Unfortunately, students at an early age usually consider scientific subjects as too hard to understand, so they simply refuse to study but this is true only for those who do not have any interest or background in such subjects.

Usually, topics for Advanced-Level courses are pretty much the same as the topics that are covered throughout the classes one has already taken. The significant difference is that the points and concepts that were covered throughout the beginner courses are expanded and explained in greater detail.

Considering the information provided above, it will not be that easy to identify which one of these three subjects is the hardest without considering specific criteria. Moreover, the difficulty of each A-Level qualification ultimately depends upon the individual’s skills, educational background, interests, and willingness to study. For that reason, the article will provide some specific details regarding A-Level Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, according to which one can identify the hardest qualification for him/her. 

Advanced-Level Biology

Biology, in general, is one of the natural sciences that studies the life and living organisms along with their physical environment and structure, chemical processes and molecular interactions, various physiological mechanisms, development, and evolutionary principles.

A-Level Biology is a subject-based qualification that can lead to further studies, training, or university. Courses that are covered in A-Level Biology typically focus on the topics provided below:

  • Cell Structure
  • Biological Molecules
  • Enzymes
  • Cell Membranes and Transport in Plants and Mammals
  • The Mitotic Cell Cycle
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Protein Synthesis
  • Gas Exchange
  • Infectious diseases and Immunity
  • Energy and Respiration
  • Photosynthesis
  • Homeostasis
  • Inherited changes
  • Control and Coordination
  • Selection and Evolution
  • Biodiversity, Classification, and Conservation
  • Genetic Technologies

Throughout the A-Level Biology courses, one will take theoretical sessions as well as laboratory-based courses through which theoretical and practical skills, cooperation, and teamwork can be enhanced.

To apply for an A-Level Biology course, understanding of basic Chemical principles is very important. Along with that, knowledge of Mathematics is also a must. Considering the framework of Biology, there is no need for knowledge of complicated Mathematical principles; Rather, understanding of data provided either in tables or graphs and simple calculations implementing statistical tests is enough.

As was already mentioned, A-Level Biology covers the topics that one has previously studied, but every chapter provides an in-depth analysis of a particular topic. For that reason, at first glance, it might seem a huge jump from GCSE Biology to A-Level Biology, but the studying process becomes smoother and more straightforward as long as you have an interest in the discipline and the willingness to study and understand.

In case if you have a strong educational background in Biology, it might not be as challenging to complete A-Level Biology since you go more in-depth with the same concepts and apply them to a more detailed scenario.

The major difficulty in studying A-Level Biology can be considered to be the fact that you have to memorise too many new words which are quite similar to each other but have very different meanings.

Another aspect that makes the A-Level Biology slightly tricky is the mark scheme. Even if you understand the specific concept, it is sometimes quite hard to get the mark since you might have been required to demonstrate the knowledge of that concept in a particular way using the specific terminology.

In conclusion, of course, it is a quite challenging step to take at the beginning, but the preparation for A-Level Biology qualification gradually becomes less complicated as long as you build on your existing knowledge, consolidate the new concepts, and revise the material rapidly.

A-Level Chemistry

In contrary to Biology, Chemistry is one of the branches of life sciences studying the composition, structure, and physical/chemical properties of matter. Chemistry incorporates five main sub-disciplines, which are the following: Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Biochemistry. Although, A-Level Chemistry only covers general topics from Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry.

More specifically, the concepts that are typically included in the A-Level Chemistry courses are provided below:

  • Physical Chemistry
    – Atoms and Molecules
    – States of Matter
    – Stoichiometry
    – Atomic Structure
    – Chemical Bonding
    – Chemical Energetics
    – Electrochemistry
    – Equilibria and Reaction Kinetics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
    – The Periodic Table and Chemical Periodicity (Group 2 and 17)
    – The Chemistry of Transition Elements
    – Nitrogen and Sulfur
  • Organic Chemistry
    – Introduction to Organic Chemistry
    – Organic Compounds (Hydrocarbons, Halogen Derivatives, Hydroxy Compounds, Carbonyl Compounds, Carboxylic Acids and Derivatives, Nitrogenous Compounds, Polymerisation, Organic Synthesis

In contrary to the A-Level Biology, a robust educational background in Mathematics is much more critical for A-Level Chemistry. Along with that, it also requires a proper understanding of general topics and a strong foundation since if you cannot completely understand one concept, it will only get harder to understand further issues.

Furthermore, the grading scheme for A-Level Chemistry is much more specific, and so are the exam questions. If it was quite hard to interpret the correct answer using the appropriate terminology in Biology, it is much easier to get the right solution in Chemistry since if you know the concept – you know the exact answer.

Along with that, there are many more online resources that might be helpful to prepare for A-Level Chemistry than it is in the case of A-Level Biology. One can find quite a comprehensive video as well as written resources, depending on their personal preferences.

The most challenging part of preparing for A-Level examination in Chemistry is that sometimes you get questions that you cannot understand at first glance since you have to integrate several concepts to get the correct answer. Therefore, you should be detail-oriented during the studying process to understand all the ideas and then link them to the specific question you are asked to answer.

Even though lots of students struggle with the organic section of the A-Level Chemistry, it only requires rapid practice, understanding, and revision rather than memorisation.

A-Level Physics

Physics is one of the branches of natural sciences studying the matter, its motion/behavior in a particular space and time. Moreover, the discipline covers the concepts of energy and force.

Generally, A-Level Physics courses cover the following topics:

  • 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

A-Level Physics is considered as one of the hardest courses due to the amount and complexity of material as well as the difficulty of exam questions. Even though, the subject is quite interesting and compelling for many of the students.

Considering the difficulty of the subject and the fact that almost the majority of the students taking A-Level Physics cannot get high grades in the course, it can be concluded that getting an A is quite tough but still possible if you put the work in and learn the concepts very thoroughly.

One of the significant problems that the students face during the A-Level Physics studies is the absence of proper textbooks. Usually, the material provided in the manual is not that easy to read since the book is loaded with too much information that you do not need. Moreover, it is also quite challenging to understand the diagrams or charts provided in the textbook.

Furthermore, it is sometimes hard to find appropriate online resources for physics courses since the material is quite comprehensive, and it is almost impossible to find an online video or article explaining every scenario that you might get.

As was mentioned in the case of Chemistry, Physics also requires an understanding of the concepts rather than memorisation. If you can understand the basic concepts, the studying process becomes much more manageable time after time. There is no way one can memorise physical concepts and do well on the final exam.

Conclusion

To conclude what was already mentioned and explained in the article, there is no specific answer to the question “Which is the Hardest A-Level Subject.” Instead, the answer to the issue is utterly dependent upon individual interests, skills, and preferences. 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. For that reason, the summary of the hardest parts of each A-Level subject is provided in the table below.

A-Level Course Difficulties
BiologyMemorization of quite similar terms with completely different meanings;
Studying process is time-consuming;
Hard to follow the mark scheme and get the points on the exam.
ChemistryRequires a strong educational background in Chemistry;
Knowledge of basic mathematical concepts is a must;
Abilities to understand and apply concepts to various scenarios;
Requires repetitive completion of past exam questions, which is time-consuming.
PhysicsRequires rapid thinking and complete understanding of the material, including diagrams,
graphs, charts, etc.;
Not enough online resources;
Requires good understanding of Mathematics.

While the table above summarizes the general points that might be difficult for students preparing for A-Level courses in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics, it can be concluded that all three of the subjects require detail-orientation, patience, ability to link and integrate concepts, and more importantly, the interest in the specific course.

References:

Cambridge International. (2016). International AS & A Level Biology. Retrieved from:             https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/Images/329527-2019-2021-syllabus.pdf

Cambridge International. (2016). International AS & A Level Chemistry. Retrieved from:             https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/Images/329530-2019-2021-syllabus.pdf

Cambridge International. (2016). International AS & A Level Physics. Retrieved from:             https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/Images/329533-2019-2021-syllabus.pdf