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Top grade technique

UPGRADE CHEMISTRY A-LEVEL By Ted Lister and Janet Renshaw Stanley Thornes Pounds 9.99.

A-LEVEL CHEMISTRY PASS BOOKS: Cambridge (also London and Northern) By E N Ramsden Stanley Thornes Pounds 6.99.

CHEMISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT By E N Ramsden Stanley Thornes Pounds 10. 99.

It is too easy to dismiss improved grades at A-level with claims of reduced rigour in the questions or soft marking policies. Credit must be given to the examination boards for providing more stimulating syllabuses, to the examination candidates themselves, to teachers perfecting their craft and to those who provide an increasingly wide range of imaginative resources to help students learn.

Upgrade A-Level Chemistry begins with tips on preparing for and taking the examination. It covers core topics and some of the more popular options. Each section starts with key facts, followed by exam questions and detailed answers.

The style is student-friendly and the authors have tried to write as though they were sitting next to the candidate, discussing issues which arise from each question. The text aims to deepen understanding and sharpen exam technique. Those starting to teach A-level will also find this work invaluable.

E N Ramsden's A-Level Chemistry Pass Books are much more specific, individual titles being directed at their own examination board and all are cross-referenced to the author's respected A-Level Chemistry textbook.

They contain concept summary maps, syllabus information, examination questions and commentaries from examiners with the relevant boards.

Where there were thought to be gaps in the original text, additional topics have been included such as condensation polymers in the London volume and nuclear magnetic resonance for the Northern Board.

These books are revision aids and for maximum benefit should be used with the main textbook. They are highly organised and encourage students to be methodical in their revision. Those taking modular examinations should find them especially useful.

Chemistry of the Environment was written specifically to match the 1996 Oxford and Cambridge boards' syllabuses, but it is such an excellent and comprehensive text that it will find much wider applications.

It covers the geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, how they are polluted and possible remedies. Issues such as photochemical smog, eutrophication and recycling versus biodegradability are dealt with in detail.

There are references to the infamous international incidents at Minamata Bay in Japan, and Bhopal in India, as well as problems at Camelford, Cornwall, and the running aground of the Sea Empress in February.

As environmental issues pervade every aspect of the curriculum, and particularly the science curriculum, this authoritative work will be welcomed by all who wish to keep their pupils well-informed and up-to-date.

Hugh Rippin is head of chemistry at Chenderit High School, Banbury

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