Preparing for GCSEs

guidelines for home-schooling parents
keen to secure a Christian classical education for their children


Study recommended: 4 years, 5 hours per week (incl. lesson time).

Exam board: OCR. View specification for the new 9-1 GCSE syllabus. The Entry Code for our students sitting this exam in 2018 is J282 E.

Henle First Year Latin Preliminary textbooks: The best introduction to Latin for Catholic students aged 11 upwards is Henle First Year Latin (with accompanying Grammar) by Fr Robert Henle SJ. Although the focus is on classical Latin, it provides a useful introduction to ecclesiastical Latin as well, including a line-by-line presentation of the Pater Noster and Ave Maria. Perfectly paced and packed full of exercises, its 500 pages normally take two years to complete. Take a peek on Amazon. Don't be put off this superb series by the American ordering of the grammatical cases. It takes only a few minutes to learn how to read the layout in a British manner, and pupils learn this simple skill right at the beginning of our course. Cover all four volumes if you really wish to get to grips with Latin. Broadly speaking, they map to the British exam system as follows:

NB. These books can also be purchased in digital form from Google Books.

Exam-preparation textbooks: In their final year, students will prepare for the GCSE exam (course J281) using the following texts:

Set Texts: Students for the 2018 exam study the following set texts in the Cambridge Latin Anthology:

Classical Greek

Study recommended: 3 years, 5 hours per week (incl. lesson time). It is best to wait until children have completed at least one if not two years of Latin before starting Ancient Greek. This will allow them to grasp the novelties of classical grammar (conjugations, declensions, etc) before embarking on a new language. Don't be deterred by the strange-looking Greek alphabet; children love learning the Greek letters and will quickly master them.

Exam board: OCR. View specification for the new 9-1 GCSE syllabus. The Entry Code for our students sitting this exam in 2018 is J292 A.

Textbooks: We use the following textbooks, for which both paperback and Kindle editions are available.

Students should also download the Defined and Restricted Vocabulary.

Set Texts: Students for the exam in 2018 prepare the texts in the Anthology from the following authors:

Typing Greek: Type Greek is a free online tool for typing Greek. Enter one of the symbols ( ) \ / = | after letters to add breathings, accents or iota subscripts. Copy the text into a word processor to preserve it. Lexilogos is an alternative online tool for students who have difficulty typing.


Study recommended: 3-4 years, 5 hours per week (incl. lesson time). Students should have mastered basic arithmetic and know their multiplication tables thoroughly by the age of 11.

Exam board: Edexcel. You may choose either the well-established International GCSE or the new 9-1 GCSE (Higher), which is now just as challenging.

Textbooks: We begin our course with Maths for Edexcel: Specification B, and then go on to use Mathematics for Edexcel IGCSE (seen right).

Calculators: Each pupil will require a scientific calculator. Suitable models are the Casio FX-85GT and the Casio FX-991EX (aka Classwiz). To learn how to use the latter, students should watch these Help videos. Graphical calculators are also permitted in the GCSE exams, the recommended model being the Casio CG50 (aka Prizm); see the Maths section in the A Level page for further details.

Further Mathematics

Study recommended: 1 year, 6 hours per week (incl. lesson time). Before commencing with this course students should have completed their ordinary GCSE Maths studies and have obtained (or be expected to obtain) at least a grade 7 (or A under the old scheme).

Exam board: Edexcel. Specification for 2018 exams. Specification for 2019 exams and onwards.

Textbooks: We use Greg Attwood's Edexcel IGCSE Further Pure Mathemathics book (on right). Also useful is this IGCSE Further Mathematics website.

Calculators: For students who hope to go on to study A Level maths, this would be a good time to invest in a graphical calculator. I highly recommend the Casio CG50 (Prizm). The TI Nspire CX is also a good choice, although I don't use this in class. See my A Level page for further details.