Mathematics support for all students studying A-level chemistry, regardless of their awarding body.

Maths skills for A level chemistry
Dan McGowan and Emma Poole
Nelson Thornes
2013 | 112pp | £9.99 (PB)
ISBN 9781408521199

Book cover

Books to support chemistry undergraduate students with their maths skills are well established and relatively common. It is therefore very welcome to be invited to review a book on this topic that is aimed at all students studying A-level chemistry, regardless of their awarding body.

Material is ordered according to chemical topics, which is a useful approach for those students who have less confidence in mathematics. Each topic is presented in a double page spread that includes an introduction, worked example and practice questions. Some topics also include boxes of additional information and more advanced questions. The overall feel is very much of a chemistry textbook rather than one on mathematics and the authors are to be commended on this.

Answers to the practice questions are available online. I was surprised that these are generally just the final numerical answer for each problem, and I feel that an opportunity has been missed to provide more detailed outline answers given the absence of space and printing constraints. It would also be useful to provide a more specific URL for this resource rather than just that of the home page of the publisher.

My major issue was with rounding and the treatment of significant figures. Coming from a higher education background I find it irritating that students are constantly told how many significant figures or decimal places to which numerical answers should be quoted. I appreciate that the authors are constrained here by the need to adopt usual practice. However, I was alarmed by some of the answers quoted where the accepted rules had not been followed.

The book will undoubtedly be of use to students who are less confident with the mathematical elements of A-level chemistry. It will also be of interest to more able students through its presentation of mathematics in a chemical context.

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