What textbooks should you buy for the IGCSE Edexcel Sciences?
For all you busy bees I’m cutting to the chase. Here’s my ultimate textbook set for completing any of the IGCSE Edexcel sciences. I’m showing you biology, but the same will apply for chemistry and physics (just switch the subject name).
FULL DETAILS -
Pearson Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Student book
Edexcel International GCSE for the grade 9-1 course. The Revision Guide. By CPG
Edexcel International GCSE Exam practice Workbook for the 9-1 course by CPG
Edexcel international GCSE (9-1) workbook by Hodder education
Essential maths skills for GCSE Science for the grade 9-1 course - study & practice
For the rest of you, here’s why I came to this conclusion……
There are two things I reach for when considering a new (I)GCSE for my child. The exam board’s subject specification and some textbook advice. I know from first hand experience, as a home ed mum, a good textbook can mean the difference between a relative sail through to the exams and a hard slog of worries that we’re doing it right. The exam spec is for another blog post, but today I’m talking textbooks.
THE MAIN BOOK!
Firstly, you’re going to need a main book. The one with the ‘whole’ course inside (supposedly). You’re going to read this forwards, backwards and sideways. Get it? It’s your holy grail. Here are your main book options. Moving away from this list is risky. You could potentially not be following the right course (they change between different exam boards and years). Remember, we're talking edexcel, not CIE.
Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Biology Student book by Pearson
Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Biology Student book by Collins
Biology for Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Hodder education second edition.
Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Physics Student book by Pearson
Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Physics Student book by Collins
Physics for Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Hodder education second edition.
Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Chemistry Student book by Pearson
Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Chemistry Student book by Collins
Chemistry for Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Hodder education second edition
Notice they’re all 9-1? That’s super important! It’s the new grading system and without that on the cover, you’ve probably got an old book. Not ideal. The only other real difference is the publisher. Pearson (edexcel), Collins and Hodder.
They look like this:
My fav? As Pearson (edexcel) is the actual exam board’s book, it stands to reason it is probably the best choice as your main book.
OTHER REASONS WHY PEARSON IS MY ‘MAIN BOOK’ CHOICE
It is genuinely quite nice to read.
A 'mostly' clear layout and instructions.
Well thought out diagrams.
Some good practice questions.
A glossary. More important than you think and Hodder’s doesn’t have one.
Extends beyond the specification nicely.
Additional online version for if you’re travelling light.
THE BAD ON PEARSON
Expensive. Three sciences and you're closing in on £90.
A bit flimsy. This is a sit at your desk and open gently book. Two years of it curled over and it’s likely to fall apart.
No answers. To be fair, this is the case with all the main books. They reserve answers for the £100 teachers packs. But, home educators have had success getting the answers through persistently contacting the publisher so do try and don't give up.
It confusingly covers more than the exam spec, leaving you to question which are the more important parts to learn to pass.
WHY HODDER & COLLINS COME IN SECOND
It's sad, but the main reason is it's written by the exam board. I hate feeling to ransom, you it really does come to this.
Collins was my ‘go-to’ book at the start. Basically because it was the first of the three to be released and I wanted to get my teeth in to some science. I also managed to get hold of the answers, albeit through blood sweat and tears. But, as time passes I realise I’m not too impressed. It's cover came off within a few months and although it does have a glossary and lots of practice questions (I feel more than Pearson?) the explanations are shoddy. In physics, they are sometimes down right awful.
Hodder’s on the other hand is of way better quality. That bad boy cover isn’t coming off for no one. The chemistry definitely feels more condensed and to the point (demonstrated in its 280 pages compared to pearsons 344). There’s not as much waffle which although can be shame to lose context with the real world, it may help you learn those hard calculations. The biology and physics, however, hold lots of extra info, but that lack of glossary can be a real bind.
Next stop …. THE BEST REVISION GUIDES
This is easy for me. Hands down. No context. CPG. Since the dawn of textbooks these have been the dudes of revision guides and for good reason. Cheap, concise and give you a really nice overview when revising. I'd buy this early and keep dipping in. One down side? They, again, fall apart easily. But, what can you expect for around £5-6 with free postage (amazon prime).
Practicing with WORKBOOKS.
I wouldn’t necessarily buy a workbook on day one. I'd wait until the student was sure they wanted to take the exams. But, as we approached the half way mark of the course I’d definitely make the investment.
The jump between learning info and doing exam questions is huge and you really should be practising way before you even sniff an exam. There’s two mainstream workbooks out at the moment and to be honest, I’d grab both considering they’re only around £5-7. I think CPG is much easier than Hodders… so should hopefully act as a good confidence booster, whilst the Hodder will really get those cerebral juices flowing. Make sure you buy the CPG with answers included (yes there is one without….how annoying!?) and Hodder’s release the answers for you through their website (click here for physics, biology and chemistry). If you haven’t had any help from a course or tutor this really will be a great chance to practice some questions with model answers available.
Finally .... EXTRAS
The main struggle I see in students is maths. There is maths in these IGCSEs. Edexcel say there is 10% maths in biology, 20% in chemistry and 30% in physics, but honestly, if you’re not understanding it, it feels like A LOT more. Sometimes I even question their percentages on this. Lots of people clam up with maths. But, it’s not going to go away, so I can’t recommend enough tackling it slowly and methodically from day one. KS3 maths is essentially what you’re covering, but I do love this book to cover the core. Yes. It’s CPG again. I know it says GCSE, but trust me it will help IGCSE too!
The truth is, all these textbooks go in different directions from the exam spec and we really should be taking that in. Read your exam spec! Know your exam spec! The exam spec info comes first!
So, you guessed it. The next post will be on exactly how to do just that!