Preparing for A Levels
Latin
Years of study required: Two or three years. If taking course over two years, students should be prepared to study for 10+ hours (incl. lesson time) per week, otherwise 8 would suffice.
Exam Board: OCR. See specification page. Note that the new A Level syllabus (first sitting in 2018) still provides for exams at AS (Advanced Subsidiary) level, but these are now standalone qualifications and no longer count toward 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 (2025-2026)
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 students have finished Fr Henle's Fourth Year Latin (focusing on Virgil's Aeneid), they should be as accomplished as any second-year undergraduate.
Classical Greek
Years of study required: Two or three years. If taking course over two years, students should be prepared to study for 10+ hours (incl. lesson time) per week, otherwise 8 would suffice.
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.
For students keen to get to grips with Homer, 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, 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. Our own current attempt to translate the whole of the Ancient Greek Bible can be found here.
Maths
Study required: A Level Maths is a challenging syllabus. Students who haven't studied GCSE Further Mathematics or who failed to obtain a top grade (8+) in ordinary GCSE Maths are going to find it extremely difficult to tackle in two years, so they should consider doing it in three, perhaps taking in GCSE Further Mathematics en route. If taking course over two years, students should be prepared to study for 12+ hours (incl. lesson time) per week, otherwise 9+ would suffice.
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. In addition to these four books, there are four associated Exam Practice books, which students should work through if they wish to obtain the very best grade.
You will also need to downoad the Large Data Set. 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. 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 Online training videos to learn the basics.
Check prices on Oxford Educational Supplies and also Pearson Edexcel UK before you decide to buy elsewhere. Finally, don't buy a calculator with ana inbuilt CAS (Computer Algebra System) as it won't be allowed in the exam room. The free third-party XCas add-in provides rich CAS functionality for the fx-CG10/20/50, but remember either to remove it from your calculator or to put the calculator in Exam Mode before you sit your exams with it.
Free Non-Exam Calculators: There are many excellent free calculator apps available. Here's a list of some 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 on your own or with our e-Academy, Stroud's Engineering Mathematics can hardly be bettered.
For those thinking of applying to read maths at University, consider studying the delightful preparatory challenges in Advanced Problems in Mathematics.