A Level Physical Education – More than Just a Game!

One of our fantastic PE tutors gives his experience on A Level PE studies and exams, and why PE students are such a brilliant group to teach.

“You’re coming to the end of Year 11. You GCSE exams are looming and your teachers are requesting your options for A Level. The choices are vast. Suddenly every one of your teachers are telling you how good you are at your subject, and how you should take it at A Level. Your friends in Year 12 are telling you how difficult A Levels are, how much work and writing there is. Their advice……… make sure you take an easy subject.

“I know, I’ll take PE, I’m good at sport, GCSE was easy, we mainly played badminton and basketball twice a week. How wrong could they be?”

A Level Physical Education is a different animal altogether. Many students soon realise that this is more than just a run around the football field for 90 minutes.

GCSE is 60% practical assignments, measured against your sporting talents. A talented sportsperson can enter the exam with a C grade almost guaranteed.
At A Level this reduces to 30% and those that previously relied on sporting ability now have to tap into their academic skills to achieve those higher grades.

A Level Content

The simple describing processes answers that are evident at GCSE are replaced by longer questions and essay style assessments that link together the theory of sport with practical examples. 15/20 mark questions are common place at A Level and are often the nemesis of many A Level PE Student.

Topic areas

• Anatomy and Physiology
• Exercise Physiology
• Biomechanics
• Sports Psychology
• Skill Acquisition
• History of Sport
• Social and Contemporary studies of sport.
In essence, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Psychology and Sociology all in one subject.

A Level Physical Education Theory – the detail

Anatomy and Physiology focusses on the way the body works, through the cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular systems. But unlike at GCSE, students need to know now not only how the body works but how it impacts on exercise and performance.
Mechanisms such as the vascular shunt, Starlings Law, venous return and gaseous exchange are all processes in which we have to have not only extensive knowledge but how each impact on performance. And the different planes of movements and axis of rotations and lever systems within the body further complicates the anatomy and physiology module.


Brought in by Exercise Physiology:
How energy is created, re-synthesised and broken down in the body.
How enzymes work, the products and by-products produced, and acronyms such as PFK, LDH, GPP can concern students about the amount of scientific knowledge required in the early stages.
Add in EPOC, OBLA and DOMS.


Comes into play with biomechanics: Newtons Laws, Forces, Angular momentum, laws of inertia, Magnus effect and Bernoulli Principal will have many running for the hills (literally).

Sports Psychology

How the mind works to impact on performance, the theories of how we learn, how we process information, how we store information and repeat information are all further theories that need to be known, linked and developed.

Historical Aspects

How Sport has developed from pre industrial England and the influence that the Agrarian Revolution, Industrial Revolution and 19th Century Public Schools had on the development of sport in the UK and across the globe. And finally, how technological advantages, media and commercialisation impact on sport today.

Determination and Achievement – a special group of people

We must take into account the characters that we have before us. These young people are sportsmen / women – many of whom have represented their county / region / nation in their chosen sports.
To get to that level, they have shown qualities that will help them succeed. Dedication, determination, commitment, a need to achieve attitude, to not give up after failure, to have a goal and give everything that it takes to achieve that goal.
That’s what makes these young adults a special group to teach. That’s what makes A Level PE students stand out from the rest.

So how will a Justin Craig A Level PE Course help?

A lot can be covered in 4 days. Especially when the basic knowledge has already been learnt. What we can do is fill in the missing pieces and add to the depth.
A mix of teaching content and relating these to past paper questions. Using examples from previous exams and how questions need to be answered in more depth provide the opportunity to move a couple of grades in a very short space of time. Courses are tailored according to students’ needs but we know that many students find Anatomy & Physiology, Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics the most difficult.

Individuals often require help on the History of Sport and Sports Psychology. We do also ensure that techniques for gaining higher marks through AO2 and AO3 questions.

It’s common for a student to leave a PE exam thinking it has gone well, only to be met with a D/E on their exam paper. Not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of their ability to extend their answers to meet the marking criteria. The like-minded nature of these students brings natural challenge and competition between each other and always makes for a fantastic atmosphere within the group.
All students that attend the Justin Craig A Level PE courses feel the benefit of it on return to school and allows them to thrive in the upcoming examinations.”

For advice on how Justin Craig can help you / your child with their PE exams, amongst other subjects, at A Level or GCSE, do give our friendly team a call on 01727 744340.