I am slowly looking at different options and selecting books for us to use in preparation for my daughter to write her IGCSE’s (for those of you wondering IGCSE’s is just International GCSE’s). We know the subjects she wants to do, in most cases we know which exam boards we are going with so now it is a case of deciding which books and resources.
The student book which we have selected for her Biology is this one – Biology Edexcel International GCSE published by Hodder Education.
And straight away one of the things that impressed me about this book is that all the answers for the questions included in the student book are FREE to download from their website. Okay this may sound like a crazy thing to be impressed with, having access to answers, but I have been spending quite a bit of time looking at different books for a number of subjects and I have been amazed at how many do not come with answers or the answers are included in another book which costs you an additional £100 to buy. So yes the fact that we can download model answers for all the questions is a BIG DEAL and it is a MASSIVE plus as far as I am concerned.
I also like the way they have set-up this book. For Edexcel IGCSE Biology you have 7 topics which the kids need to cover. In this book the 7 topics are the 7 sections in the book. The 7 sections are then broken down into chapters. And within each chapter they use subheadings as a way of breaking it down even further into manageable chunks (I think these sub-heading will also be useful when it comes to making summary notes). Now there is a lot of information on these pages (to be expected at this level) but I feel like the use of sub headings helps to stop it being one huge amount of information overload all at once.
And on each page they also include helpful things like – Study tips or Maths tips which directs you to a place where there is more information or remind you about something.
At the end of each chapter you get study questions. Which is great way to see if the kids have understood what they have just read – I really like that they include these study questions at the end of every chapter and do not leave them until the end of the sections as some sections are really long so I think it is good to check the understanding as you are progressing through the sections.
Once you have gotten to the end of the Section who get a Summary page (again brilliant for helping to focus on the important bits and make sure everyone understand those concepts). Then after the summary page there is a Maths Skills page, which I actually never knew I wanted in a biology book until I started going through this book and I love that they are reminding the kids about Maths skills needed.
Then you get the example of student responses with examiners comments. LOVE THIS. As a home educator who is just starting down this path of helping my first child with her Year 10/11 work this is what I have spending a lot of time reading up about – how do the examiners want the answers structured, things like key words etc. So I really like that they have included something like this at the end of each section. And as much as I think it is important for me to read and understand so I can guide my daughter it is also vitally important for her to start reading these comments.
And then at the end of each section you get exam style questions on the whole section (and again let me stress model answers for these are free to download). They tend to include a range of questions – some multiple choice, some explanation type questions, some where you need to understand results of an experiment and some applying maths skills – there is a nice range of questions.
And they are still not finished after the exam-style questions they have also included 2 pages called Extend and Challenge. I like that they include this as kids who are really enjoying the topic have something to help them take it a step further.
I am really happy with the way this book has been structured, I feel like it makes sense and it will be easy for us to navigate around. Once we have used it for a few months and I can get some feedback from my daughter I will write an update post where I discuss what her thought are.
The next step will be a workbook so we can have extra practice (I am a big believer in practice and more practice at answering questions), I have been doing some research and there appears to be two options – a CGP workbook or the Hodder workbook. From what I have read the CGP workbook is considered a bit easy so I asked Hodder for a few press photographs of their workbook so I could show you (I think we will probably be going with this workbook). The Hodder workbook is only £6.99 and again all answers are free to download.
And my daughter loves revision guides. She likes being able to read the summaries both before we start a topic and again afterwards. I found this revision guide from Hodder which I thought looked interesting and I got these press photos – I must admit I like the look of it so we will probably be adding one of these to our bookshelves at some stage (think it costs £12.99).
Because we are doing Biology without using tutors or external help I feel like I need to be on top of it, know what we need to cover, have practice examples, have model answers, guidance on exam type questions. I feel like combining these three books is going to do that for us. I think we have a good starting point and actually I am no longer feeling overwhelmed or worried about Biology at all.
As always I will write up date posts on how we are getting along once we have had time to use our books.
Admin – Hodder kindly sent us some press photographs for the workbook and revision book so I could include some images in this post to show you examples of what the pages look like. The images of the student book are mine.