Trevor Critchley reviews this textbook

Homework helpers: chemistry
Greg Curran
New Jersey, US: Career Press 2011 | Pp208 | £15.99 (PB) | ISBN9781601631633
Reviewed by Trevor Critchley

cover of Homework helpers: chemistry

Source: Career Press

With many schools opting for course-based textbooks to teach A level chemistry, it can be useful to supplement these with something providing greater depth and breadth. Unfortunately, despite being pitched at post-16 level, I do not think that this book would quite fit the bill for the UK market, but it may be of interest to an international readership.

It covers a range of important fundamental topics found in post-16 courses, but it is by no means comprehensive. In addition, I felt that the chapters themselves varied in depth and clarity. Some explanations appeared rather rambling, whilst others, such as oxidation numbers and polarity in molecules, seemed to lack sufficient worked examples to help cement knowledge and skills.

I don't tend to use the 'factor label method' as a tool for calculations, but this author does so throughout his book. After introducing the method in chapter two, it is used in all of the worked examples of stoichiometry calculations, as well as those on gas pressures. It clearly works, but my concern would be that students who are looking for help with these important types of calculation would have to be fairly confident mathematicians not to be fazed by this rather complex-looking method if they had already encountered different ways of dealing with the dreaded mole at school.

The author sets out in the introduction to 'simulate the feel of one-on-one tutoring sessions with a teacher'. As a result the style is very conversational, and I suspect that this is not a book that would be readily dipped into by students who were looking for quick answers, despite the series title. However, I think that a conscientious student who started working through from the first page might find this a fairly enjoyable bit of background reading to complement their course. 

Related Links

 Homework helpers: chemistry 

Purchase this book from