Preparing for GCSEs
guidelines for
home-schooling parents
keen to secure a Christian classical education for their children
Latin
Study recommended: 4 years, 6 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 2023 is J282 A.
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 two years, students will prepare for the GCSE exam (course J282) using the following texts:Set Texts: Students for the 2023 exam study the following set texts, the first taken from the Oxford Latin Anthology, the second from the Cambridge Latin Anthology:
Classical Greek
Study recommended: 4 years, 5 hours per week (incl. lesson time). It's 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. See the specification for the new 9-1 GCSE syllabus. The Entry Code for our students sitting this exam in 2023/4 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 2023/4 exam prepare set texts 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.
Mathematics
Study recommended: 4 years, 6 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), now just as challenging.
Textbooks: We use the following textbooks, which can be purchased in either paperback or Kindle version.
Calculators: Each pupil will require a scientific calculator. Suitable models are the Casio FX-85GTX and the Casio FX-991EX. To learn how to use these, 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 our A Level page for further details.
Further Mathematics
Study recommended: 1 year, 8 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 grading scheme).
Exam board: Edexcel. See Specification.
Textbooks: We use Ali Datoo's Further Pure Mathemathics book (see 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). See our A Level page for further details.
English Language
Study recommended: 2 years, 5 hours per week (incl. lesson time). This course would be ideal for students aged 13-15, but students as young as 11 would benefit from it, even though they don't intend to sit the GCSE exam immediately on completion of the course.
Exam board: Edexcel. IGCSE English Language (Specification A). See Specification.
Textbooks: We use the following text books, which can be purchased in either paperback or Kindle version. Students will need the first of these, the Student Book, to begin our course.
We also cover Intermediate English Grammar in our classes and occasionally draw on David Crystal's outstanding, beautifully illustrated Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (shown across). There is no need for students to obtain their own copy of this, but parents may wish to consider obtaining this for the whole family. It also makes a wonderful coffee table book!