Tips on how to make the grades

17th March 2006 at 00:00
Hugh McGill has used all his knowledge gained with the Scottish Qualifications Authority to produce a well written, well structured revision book for Higher physics.

Its unusual first sentence, "Well done, you've decided to sit Higher physics", draws the reader into the most comprehensive account of the requirements for Higher physics.

The first three chapters follow the coursework. Simply set out, with line diagrams and drawings, the text is liberally peppered with the learning outcomes, worked examples, exercises and details of the most important experiments that pupils will be expected to undertake or be familiar with.

Chapter four deals effectively with units, prefixes and scientific notation, followed by uncertainties. It contains a wealth of information, including a list of prefixes and a table of physical quantities. Perhaps the only details missing are a list of the relationships required for Higher physics but, since this is now provided by SQA, it may not be necessary.

The final chapter gives the solutions to all the questions contained within the text. Structured in the same way as SQA marking schemes, with additional hints and tips, this chapter provides an excellent resource for pupils and teachers.

Overall How to Pass Higher Physics is a well thought out book which will be of great value to those pupils who use it properly and would provide an excellent classroom resource for Higher physics.

Another well known name in the physics teaching community, Campbell White, principal assessor for Standard grade physics, has written the companion book for Standard grade.

Also featuring diagrams and shaded text boxes, the Standard grade version has the added benefit of a few photographs (probably very necessary at this level). The introduction contains much valuable information to enable pupils to get the most they can out of a comprehensive, modern and relevant study guide, as well as a list of relationships and a data sheet similar to those that pupils will have in their SQA exam.

The seven Standard grade topics are covered systematically with the learning outcomes and many questions scattered throughout each chapter.

Added to this are hints and tips. These deal with such issues as significant figures, derived units and how to write them and the difference between mass and weight. For pupils, it is useful that these tips are contained within the text and not lumped together at the end. Answers to all the questions are at the end of each chapter.

Chapter eight consists of a Credit level question paper with answers.

This book would also be a welcome addition to any physics classroom.

Ronna Montgomery teaches at Bearsden Academy, East Dunbartonshire and is the Institute of Physics teacher network co-ordinator for Greater Glasgow

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