Category Archives: Review of assessment books

Short Review: H2 Maths Guide Book by Zac Chen

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Today I will be reviewing another popular guide book for H2 Mathematics by EPH. This mini guide book is written by Zac Chen. This is a supplementary book to the main guide books written by another author Lois Chee (why not the same author?)

As the cover page suggests, this book’s main purpose is to provide a quick refresher session for students before the examination, and the book is around a men’s palm size makes it very easy to carry around.

As usual, I will just cover the main Pros and Cons of this book.

Pros

1. This book is very affordable, priced at $7.90. 2nd hand books can go as low as $2 or $3.

2. All topics from Pure Math and Statistics are covered and it is quite a bit of work to keep all the content into a small book.

3. Every chapter begins with the main concepts sumamrised in 1 or 2 pages and there are several examples covering the different types of popular / standard questions that may come out for examination. The examples contain detailed solutions.

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Cons

1) Notice that the author doesn’t have “PGDE” certification means that he is not a MOE trained teacher. Indeed, there are minor segments whereby the explanation is different from what is being taught in school. For example, on the topic of solving a system of linear equations, this book explains using inverse matrices which is no longer in the syllabus.

2) There are no instructions on GC usage, whether that is important or not depends on individual students.

3) The content follows the “route learning” style whereby they just highlight the main points to memorise without any explanation of the concepts. However this is fine as it is supposed to be used as last minute revision and not during the learning phase.

4) The section on statistics is pretty weak, I guess the author is not well versed enough to write a comprehensive summary for this section. For example, the topic of probability only contained 3 pages, whereby first page only lists certain formulas and then 1 example only. A level math teachers will know that this topic has many strategies such as tree diagram, Venn diagram, etc and mastery of this topic is not achievable by just memorising formula. The only example given was the method of using Permutation and Combination but in examination, questions on tree diagram are quite popular too.

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Verdict

I quite like this book, especially for the Pure Math section. The design of this book makes it very user friendly to refer and bring around and it is indeed a good way to have a quick refresh of content right before the exam. I actually bought a copy for each of my tuition student to act as a supplement to their school notes.

This book is also useful for students who are struggling to pass. Instead of getting confused by thick and complicated school lecture notes, these students can refer to this book for a “straight to the point” crash course. Once they know how to do basic questions through “route learning”, then they may be in a better position to refer to school materials again whereby there are more explanation behind the concepts.

If only they can strengthen the Statistics’ topics, then it will be a very good summary book. Hopefully the main textbooks by Lois Chee will be even better (to be reviewed soon).

Review: A – Level Mathematics Challenging learn by example (Thomas Bond, Chris Hughes)

This is the second book by Thomas and Chris, designed with a different purpose in mind compared to the other book I reviewed: Challenging Drill Questions.

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This book costs approximately S$21, which is not too expensive.

Strength

  • Each chapter is divided into two sections: “Fundamental Examples” and “Standard Problems”. The fundamental examples allow students to recap basic concepts by reading through the step by step solutions before trying the standard problems (full solutions provided).

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  • The solutions provided has a marking scheme, students can have a rough sense how their questions would be graded. However every school adopts different marking scheme so take the scheme provided with a pinch of salt.
  • Sufficient problems for students to practice: 10 – 20 per chapter.

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Weakness

  • Not all the “examples” are practice questions. Some of them are merely formulas to memorise but they wrote it as “example” to increase the count (kind of cheating in my opinion).
  • Same as their “Challenging Drill Questions” book, the topics could be further divided following local JCs or IP schools’ syllabus.
  • This book is not useful for H1 students because many topics in H2 are not in H1. H1 students would have difficulty extracting relevant questions on their own. There is no indication of whether a question is suitable for H1 or not.

Targeted audience:

  • Students who find difficulty in attempting tutorial questions on their own and need more solved problems to “read” before practicing.
  • Students who has attained a certain level of mastery of each topic may not find the book too useful. They are better off with the “challenging drill questions” book.

Review: A-level Mathematics Challenging Drill Books by Thomas Bond, Chris Hughes

This is my humble simple review of a popular revision book for A level mathematics, especially at H2 level.

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Strength

  1. Each chapter contains many questions, good for exposure purpose. E.g. the chapter of sequence and series has over 170 questions for students to practice on.
  2. Question book is relatively affordable at $15.95 with numerical answers provided.
  3. All major topics are covered.
  4. Solutions’ book is separated so that student can refer to both questions and solutions in an easier manner.

Weakness

  1. The topics are not finely divided and the questions are arranged in a mess.

For example, the questions on summation and mathematical induction are mixed together, it is actually quite difficult for

a student to practice questions on a single topic at a time.

2.  The problems in the book are not being carefully selected.

For example, there are plenty of questions on mathematical induction based on summation. However there are only 1

or 2 questions on induction involving sequences with recurrence relation.

3.    The solution book is very expensive, costing approximately $58. If they are not profit driven then probably they would

have provided e-solutions through registration using a code per user.

4.    The questions are of standard level of difficulty, so it is not as “challenging” as indicated by the book title.

These books are suitable for

Students who can achieve a safe pass on their own (C grade and above) and hopes to push their grades further

through exposure.

These books are NOT suitable for

Students who are struggling to achieve a pass as the questions are not arranged in a user friendly format and not sorted by fine topics nor level of difficulty.