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Level-headed approach to middle tier;Mathematics

General Mathematics for GCSE (Intermediate Tier). By Brian Speed. Collins pound;12.50. GCSE Mathematics Revision (Intermediate Tier). The School Mathematics Project. Cambridge University Press pound;4.95

General Mathematics for GCSE provides a comprehensive course for students working on the intermediate tier. It sets out important topics such as number, percentages, ratio and shape.

At the end of each chapter is an examination question, some suggestions for coursework and a summary of the contents. After each group of chapters comes a revision paper, and all solutions can be found at the end of the book.

Each chapter sets out its purpose in a user-friendly style: "This chapter is going to remind you about the basic language of algebra and the algebraic processes that you will meet through this book. It will lead you through simple linear equations." This is followed by a list of "what you should already know: 4+x means add 4 to the number x . . ."

The explanations, with helpful, clear diagrams, are concise, but sufficient for most students at this level, assuming teachers can develop points where necessary. There is advice on what you need to know to award yourself a grade from E to B.

The "possible coursework tasks" and coursework examination questions at the end of each chapter are useful. In some cases they might form a good starting point for a new topic, with reference to the chapter's exercises when practice and consolidation are required.

The coursework examples will prove helpful for students and teachers alike, as hints are provided and comments included on how the marks would be awarded.

The School Mathematics Project's GCSE Mathematics Revision is also aimed at pupils working on the intermediate tier. This is a much shorter book (154 pages against the 567-page Collins text) with brief explanations of each topic followed by exercises including GCSE questions from past examination papers.

At the end of the book come mixed revision exercises and some orally-given questions for pupils to practise their mental arithmetic. The most helpful part of the book, for some pupils, is the "answer and hints" section. Not only does it reveal the answers, it also indicates how the solution was arrived at and provides alternative answers where appropriate. For those students who need additional explanations or some further exercises, SMP also refers to its Red and Blue books at the end of each topic.

These books offer clear explanations for mathematical topics at this level and provide plenty of opportunities for consolidation and practice. Brian Speed's book also includes coursework activities alongside useful guidance and worked examples. But if you need only to revise for examination papers, the SMP text will remind everyone of all the topics needed.

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