A LEVEL ECONOMICS
OCR Economics AS, Colin Bamford and Susan Grant, Heinemann, 180 pages, £17.99, ISBN 978 0435 692209
OCR Economics A2, Colin Bamford, Susan Grant and Stephen Walton, Heinemann, 350 pages, £19.99, ISBN 978 0 435 69221 6
These textbooks are the officially endorsed OCR economics titles for A level. The authors have plenty of experience as Colin is the chief examiner for Economics Advanced Level and Susan and Stephen are principal examiners.
The AS text
The initial chapter of the textbook provides the reader with a helpful insight into the requirements of the AS course. Emphasising the economist's tool kit, it provides a useful resource to dip into both at the start of and during the AS level year. Part 1 covers "markets in action", the microeconomics module (Unit F581) of the OCR course. Part 2 on the national and international economy relates to Unit F582, the macroeconomics module.
The chapters are logically structured to follow the specification. Each starts with a summary box with learning objectives. This bullet pointed list links directly to the specification and as such helps students to focus on the requirements of the unit.
In each chapter there are useful activities, which range from undertaking numerical analysis to applying theory to current world issues. These activities provide material for homework or for use during lessons. Of particular use are the discussion questions usually included as the final part of the activity. These really help to develop the ability to evaluate concepts, a higher level skill that will help students to achieve the top marks in the exams. A beneficial addition to the book would be to include a mark structure with the activities and, possibly, an answer guide for teachers. This could perhaps be made available on the Heinemann website.
The key terms included in the specification are highlighted throughout the chapters in definition boxes. They are also duplicated in the glossary at the back of the book, which acts as a very useful reference tool when students are developing their knowledge of the subject.
The figures and diagrams in the book are clear and well explained. Unlike other generic textbooks, this book focuses only on the diagrams that are required in the OCR specification. A particularly helpful aspect of the book is the inclusion of "learning tip" boxes. These provide good advice designed to help readers avoid common mistakes or remember more tricky elements of the subject. My students have found this aspect of the book particularly helpful.
At the end of each of the two main parts of the book is an "exam café". This is an excellent addition and an improvement on the equivalent book published for the legacy specification. The exam cafés include excellent revision aides such as a quick-fire quiz which students can complete prior to their exam. The sample exam questions and answers and the "hot tips" section are particularly helpful for emphasising exam technique: this is literally the chief examiner talking to students. I found the exam practice paper particularly valuable when preparing students for their exams. A mark scheme for the practice exam paper would be useful, and could perhaps be included in the Heinemann website linked to the book.
In summary, I think that the book is a crucial addition to any departmental library. …