HIGHER BIOLOGY: Multiple Choice and Matching. By James Torrance et al. Hodder and Stoughton, pound;9.99.
Another text for Higher biology from Mr Torrance and his team. At first glance I was impressed - glossy front cover, matching the New Higher Biology with Answers text, forming a "nice little set". But then I noticed one or two familiar diagrams and questions I had come across before.
I started to cross-reference this book with Hodder's original Higher Biology Multiple Choice and Human Biology Multiple Choice and Matching, and realised there was more than the occasional similarity.
For example, in the first section, Cell Variety in Relation to Function, the only new content is the matching questions and question nine; the rest are the same as in the Higher Human Biology Multiple Choice and Matching section Nucleic Acids and Protein Synthesis, and the multiple choice questions are the same as in the Higher Biology Multiple Choice. Again, in the section on RNA and protein synthesis, the matching questions could be found in the ol Higher book, with just one new question added.
Some questions have subtle changes. For example, Q5 in Meiosis in the new multiple choice text has an extra chromosome compared to the old one. In Q2 in the section Monohybrid cross, the letters used to represent the genotype are changed, though the rest of the question is identical. Why bother? Even the typographical style errors in Maintaining Water Balance Q1 are the same as in the old book.
For someone who has never purchased Torrance multiple choice books before, this would be an ideal addition to class resources, providing the student with practice on multiple choice questions. But if I had bought class sets of the previous books, I would be somewhat miffed. Out of 103 pages, I reckon about 30-35 cover new content and this is mainly matching questions. Why not release a booklet of matching questions with a few new questions as an "upgrade" to existing texts, as software publishers do ?
Duncan McColl is head of biology at Dalbeattie High, Dumfries and Galloway.