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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

on 27 August 2002
Written for UK students of GCSE Biology, this textbook would also be useful for those studying the biology component of GCSE Science: Double Award. Divided into clear topics, there are examinination questions at the end of each. The questions are recent and come from a range of exam boards. Checklists at the ends of chapters provide useful revision 'tick lists' and there is also glossary at the end.
Though accessible to most candidates, this textbook would probably best suit those aiming for the higher tier examination. Substantial amounts of information are packed in, but in a very readable manner. Diagrams are clear and colour photographs are used well. The information added since the 2nd edition is particularly relevant and useful, including updates in genetics, chapters on the historical development of biological ideas and the nature of scientific evidence.
The only slightly disappointing feature, common to many GCSE texts, is the the lack of answers to either the in-text or the examination questions. Although this allows questions to be used as homework, having some answers could promote independent study. Instructions for practical work, plus provision of expected results, usefully allows consideration of experimental design and interpretation of results even if the practical is not carried out.
This must rate as one of the best and most comprehensive GCSE Biology books currently available. The author not only knows his subject, but can put it across well to readers. With this being the 3rd edition, it has all the advantages of previous editions being refined, improved and new material added. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 4 September 2001
This book is excellent for GCSE biology. it includes all the information needed for the GCSE exam. It also includes example investigations, which is especially useful for the coursework. I found it extremely useful, and was the only book I used for reference in homeworks, and for coursework.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 April 2011
I have a considerable personal history with this book.

When I was a schoolboy (so many years ago that I hesitate to number them) I encountered a charismatic science teacher called Mr Tuffnell who really inspired me. At that time, this book wasn't available but in later years, even though my careers veered away from science, I found the first edition in a bookshop and bought it for my own pleasure. Later on, when my daughter was studying for her GCSE's and Advanced GNVQ's as a precursor to training to be an Occupational Therapist, I bought her the 2nd edition and she found it as interesting as I had. It helped her get excellent grades and go on to do her training. Now that the 3rd edition is available, I'll once again be buying it purely for my own pleasure and interest.

In the 2nd edition that I bought for our daughter, McKean produced a treasure-chest of accurate information, superb illustrations, diagrams and relevant photographs. The sections were well organised and it quite rightly stood as a testament to what good quality educational should be all about --- accessible, easily digestible but without any hint of over-simplication or pandering to the trend of reducing everything to the lowest common denominator of understandability.

Personally (and professionally as an ex-teacher) I can't say the same for the increasing use of multiple-choice questions and dumbed-down exams, but as long as texts like Mr. McKean's book remain available, there's hope after all. I can only hope that when it arrived, the 3rd edition will be just as good as I remember it.


UPDATE - So disappointed. The latest edition isn't anything like the book I remember and seems to have fallen foul of the latest trends in teaching and education which veer towards multiple choice and (therefore) easier marking techniques for examiners.
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on 28 August 2010
Despite being a relatively old compared to the flurry of recent GCSE Biology textbooks and revision guides, this book has undoubtedly helped me to achieve an A* in my recent 2009-2010 Biology examinations at GCSE.

A highly informative textbook, it has all of the basics explained at a depth which I'm sure will help even at AS/A2 level. Diagrams are both excellent and clear with labelled terms that develop an excellent further understanding of the content. Topics are grouped in appropriate modules making required information easy to find. Unlike textbooks published to suit an examining specification/criteria, this avoids the importance of how a page looks and focusses on providing a vast amount of information to the student. Whilst I found textbooks at secondary school slightly bare and uninformative at times, GCSE Biology provided information in a condensed but orderly fashion that helped immensely with both exam preparation and general touching up on biological knowledge.

I depended on this book a large amount over my two years studying GCSE Biology, and I highly recommended it to any GCSE student (or pre-GCSE, if they want to start preparing early) who requires a sturdy Biology textbook for reinforcement.
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on 25 August 2011
Good book, lots of illustrations which is always nice. I felt it was a bit dated but it was very cheap so I cant complain. It includes some nice little practice questions and such (which is uber useful if teaching yourself!)
all in all good value for money
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on 25 October 2013
Mackean's Biology textbook for GCSE level students is a good standard textbook for this level. It is not tailored to any particular exam board so may not contain every detail of every syllabus, but it is a much better textbook than the syllabus-specific publications I have seen. It actually provides a good, solid explanation of biological concepts and information - not the superficial context-free "trivia" approach to science I have seen elsewhere. The pre-used book arrived promptly and is in very good condition as described, although there is some highlightling of the text, which was not mentioned. However, this does not reduce the usefulness of the book in any way and I am happy with the purchase for my 13-yr-old daughter.
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on 7 June 2013
I used this book as a teenager, when I saw the updated version I was impressed and being a teacher I am making full use of it - it has details which is often lacking in many of the standard texts and the diagrams are clear and memorable. This book is worth having as a useful reference for biology at GCSE and even beyond.
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on 23 February 2013
This product was perfect for me. It helped greatly with my work within class and for homework when I was at home. It has also greatly helped me when I wrote an essay on the nervous system.
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on 8 November 2016
Quality of content excellent, as expected from using the two previous editions. Updating excellent.
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on 29 September 2015
very useful theory book
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