Boosting As to A*s
2013 | 64pp | £59 (PB & CD)
This is a welcome addition to a series that already features a title aimed at the C/D borderline. While the resources are similar in style, they contain a good deal more to stretch and challenge the most able students. I liked the inclusion of a skills checklist at the start, which makes it very clear what the expectations are of an A* candidate and underlines the rigour with which students must approach their studies if they expect to achieve the highest grades.
The revision exercises are all cleverly laid out. The Concept Boosters start by focusing upon key technical vocabulary, short answer questions and sequencing exercises before asking three longer-response questions of varying styles. My only complaint about these is that the mark scheme is generic and, as such, not all that helpful since it adds nothing to those already produced by the exam boards. I appreciate that you can’t really predict what the examiners will ask and that there are some transferrable principles to be learnt. However, I imagine that many teachers would appreciate something a little more detailed so they can give clear guidance to their students on how to improve in specific topic areas.
The Experiment Boosters provide some sound practice for trickier skills involving data analysis and mole calculations, and are presented very clearly. I also particularly liked the Argument Boosters, which focus upon fossil fuels, volcanoes, the atmosphere and the Haber process, providing further practice for the ‘quality of written communication’ questions that are a significant feature of the new GCSE courses. Once again, a clear mark scheme would have been helpful.
This book is aimed at the most able students, and contains a wealth of nicely designed worksheets that meet the need at this level to go beyond simple factual recall. I certainly intend to use as many of these materials as I can conceivably squeeze in, particularly around revision time, and I would recommend it to others.