Preparing for A Levels
Latin
Years of study required: Two years. Students should be prepared to study for a minimum of 8 hours per week (incl. lesson time), but 10+ hours is recommended.
Exam Board: OCR. See specification page. Note that the new A Level syllabus (for first sitting in 2018) still provides for exams at AS (Advanced Subsidiary) level, but these are stand-alone qualifications now and no longer count towards the full A Level.
Textbooks: Cheaper versions of the following books may be available either (i) secondhand or (ii) for the Amazon Kindle reader.
Core Language Textbooks
Set Texts (2018-2019)
Additional Aids
Beyond A-Level: For those who wish to take Latin beyond A-Level but prefer not to incur the expense (not to mention grave danger) of studying in a modern-day 'university', consider consolidating your Latin with Fr Henle's outstanding four-part series. His Second Year Latin (focusing on Caesar's Gallic Wars) should be fairly straightforward after AS studies, and his Third Year Latin (focusing on Cicero's Orations) would be readily accessible after A2 studies. When the student has finished Fr Henle's Fourth Year Latin (focusing on Virgil's Aeneid), he/she should be as accomplished as any undergraduate after their first year at university.
Classical Greek
Years of study required: Two years: one year to prepare for the two AS exam papers, and another for the two A2 exam papers. Students should be prepared to study for an absolute minimum of 10 hours per week (incl. lesson time), but 12+ hours is recommended.
Exam Board: OCR. See specification page.
Textbooks: John Taylor's Greek Beyond GCSE covers all the linguistic requirements for the AS paper and should be studied in depth. Also important is Greek Unseen Translation, which prepares candidates to tackle exactly the kind of Latin unseens that will appear in the AS and A2 exams. Further unseens of an intermediate nature can be found in the online version of Morice's Stories in Attic Greek (for which see our translation aid). Also recommended at this stage is The Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek.
For students keen to get to grips with Homer and tackle the mandatory Homeric set text to best advantage, Clyde Pharr's Homeric Greek is strongly recommended. A pdf copy can be downloaded for free from Textkit.
The set texts, both prose and verse, are mainly taken from authors of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. They may include Homer, Aristophanes, Plato, and Thucydides or Herodotus.
Biblical Studies: The Greek studied in the British exam syllabus is Attic Greek (plus some Homeric Greek at AS level), not the Common Greek (or Koine) used in the Septuagint and New Testament. However, once the student has completed A-level studies, the transition to Common Greek is exceptionally easy.
Maths
Study required: A Level Maths is a challenging syllabus. Students who haven't studied GCSE Further Mathematics or who failed to obtain a grade 8/9 or A* in ordinary GCSE Maths are going to find it difficult to tackle in two years, so they should consider doing it in three, perhaps taking in GCSE Further Mathematics en route. Students should be prepared to devote 10-15 hours per week (incl. lesson time) to their studies.
Exam Board: Edexcel: See specification. Students sit three two-hour papers at the end of their studies: two Pure Maths papers and one combined Statistics/Mechanics paper.
Textbooks: We use the new Pearson series. See right for the four text books used. Kindle versions are also available. Websites offering extensive video coverage of the syllabus include examsolutions.co.uk and m4ths.com.
Exam Calculators: You will require a calculator for A Level Maths. It may now be used in all exams. I recommend students take two calculators into their exams: (i) a basic scientific calculator like the Casio fx-85GT Plus or Casio fx-991EX (pictured left, around £20) for bread-and-butter work, and (ii) a graphic calculator for more advanced functionality.
Some students make do with a scientific calculator alone. I think this a mistake. Purchase a graphic calculator if you really want to maximize your chances of obtaining a top grade. I recommend the Casio fx-CG50 (pictured right, around £100). This is the calculator we use in class, and I cover its rich functionality in depth. Watch Casio's Help videos to learn the basics, and study this excellent guide.
The cheaper Casio fx-9860G-II (around £70) is very much a second best. I no longer recommend the even cheaper fx-9750G-II (around £50) as it supports neither Maths mode nor surd output. See this comparison video. Check prices on Oxford Educational Supplies before you decide to buy from Amazon. Finally, don't buy a calculator with CAS (Computer Algebra System) as it won't be allowed in the exam room.
Free Non-Exam Calculators: There are many excellent free calculator apps available. Here's a list of the best:
Beyond A Level: For those wishing to pursue Maths further, consider doing the Further Maths A Level (see below). Briefly, this requires one to sit two Core Pure Mathematics papers (green books on right) and any two other papers from the eight remaining options.
When you've done that, consider studying the remaining six modules! That will give you a breadth of mathematical knowledge which surpasses that of almost all university maths students.
If you wish to study first year university maths, either with our e-Academy or on your own, Stroud's Engineering Mathematics can hardly be bettered.
Further Maths
details to follow