By Adam Arnell
Letts pound;3.99 each
GCSE in a Week: Geography
By Jon Marker
Revise GCSE Geography
By Alan Bilham-Boult and John Hancock
A New Introduction to Geography for OCR GCSE Specification A: Revision
By John Belfield, Steve Sibley and Greg Hart
Hodder Stoughton pound;4.99
Revise for Geography GCSE OCR Specification A (2nd edition)
By David Atkins
Revise for Geography GCSE OCRWJEC Specification B (2nd edition)
By Stuart Currie
Revise for Geography GCSE AQA Specification A (2nd Edition)
By Ann Bowen and John Pallister
There is a vast array of GCSE revision guides on the market, giving geography teachers an unprecedented opportunity to recommend books to suit their students and their specification.
Of the books here, my first choice for those who need encouragement to revise would be GCSE Success Visual Revision Guide: Geography. It's in full colour and has a lively, magazine-style format. Sub-topics are presented on their own double-page spreads with quick questions and answers for each one, as well as write-on practice questions at the end of the three main sections. This would be a strong choice for those taking the foundation tier or needing to focus on the basics, providing there was teacher direction to the topic sections.
Questions Answers: Geography is full of test-yourself activities. The format is varied, with multiple choice, short and longer questions for each sub-topic, relating back to the main revision guide. Students can mark their own work and record the scores in the homework diary. This is great for encouraging engagement with key content, but more specialised exam question formats, such as problem-solving exercises, are not covered.
GCSE in a Week: Geography, with its friendly message: "It's never too late!", may have a role to play in supporting those whose revision plans didn't quite work out. The format of test, improve and use your knowledge for each topic is sound, but I felt there could have been greater variety in the question styles. The guide would help middle to higher attaining students check their key knowledge, but they'd have to work independently on their case studies to be assured of a good grade.
In contrast, Revise GCSE Geography is for the serious student who's planning ahead in their revision. It's a much more detailed and thorough guide, almost a textbook. It gives a breakdown of each specification's requirements and helpfully signposts these throughout the text. Case studies receive attention and there are progress checks for each unit as well as a small number of exam-style practice questions and model answers with markers' comments. Though the guide has a lot more text, it is still attractively presented with good use of colour.
The Heinemann guides are carefully tailored, each to a certain exam specification. They also share a common design, being printed in black and white but with a colour section containing maps and aerial photos. I thought Revise for Geography GCSE OCRWJEC Specification B was the most accessible of the three, with plenty of lively diagrams and a helpful matrix for relating case studies to likely exam questions. Revise for Geography GCSE OCR Specification A seemed to have a greater proportion of text, but with plenty of short questions and a skills section. In Revise for Geography GCSE AQA Specification A, skills received particular emphasis and a useful self-assessment checklist rounded up each chapter. All three guides would be useful to dip into as a classroom resource, or for a motivated student to use independently. Other volumes in this series were reviewed in TES Teacher on April 30, 2004.
A New Introduction to Geography for OCR GCSE Specification A: Revision Guide is tailored not only to a particular specification but also to a partner textbook, with reference to relevant page numbers throughout. While the black and white A4 format isn't particularly lively, there is plenty of good information and advice on revision strategies. A particular strength is the sample answers, which students are encouraged to criticise and compare with the marker's comments. These are also provided for problem-solving questions and would be a helpful base for class discussion.
Liz Taylor is a lecturer in geography education at Cambridge University