Spread out in fine style

Jerry Temple-Fry

Science to GCSE Summary Book, By Stephen Pople and Michael Williams, Oxford University Press, Pounds 9. - 0 19 914 634 9.

There is a growing number of science summary books on the market which seem to be aimed at drawing together courses that use disparate resources.

They all concentrate on the "knowledge and understanding" exemplified by the statements of attainment in the national curriculum and they can be applied equally effectively to modular, co-ordinated, integrated and separate science courses.

Stephen Pople's and Michael Williams' new contender in the field is clearly laid out, colourfully presented and effectively organised.

The contents are organised by attainment target. As you would expect in a summary book, very few pages are given to AT1, but 180 pages are given over to ATs 2, 3 and 4.

The book starts with about 100 brief questions that are aimed to guide students to particular spreads in the book. Some of the spreads are indicated as "more advanced" and are aimed at material in levels 8 and above of the last incarnation of the national curriculum. The balance between levels of spread seems appropriate - able students will probably find something of use to them on each spread, while less able students will find quite a number of spreads which they can complete.

Spreads are in colour and make use of clear diagrams and pictures as appropriate. The text is not patronisingly simple, but is generally appropriate to the level of the topic being covered.

There are learning targets at the beginning of each spread and special terms are highlighted using bold text. The spread concludes with questions to reinforce the main points. There are brief answers at the end of the book, together with summaries of each AT and a number of GCSE sample questions from different examination boards.

The very brief answers reinforce the message that this is a summary book not a textbook or an examination preparation book.

As long as users are aware of this, I don't think they will be disappointed. Science to GCSE Summary Book 3 won't replace existing textbooks, but it does provide a clear and attractive summary at a reasonable price.

It is the best of its kind that I have seen so far.

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