John Saxon has created a physics text that should be suitable for a wide range of students from average to gifted. Even better, students should be able to do most of their studying independently; the text does not require a teacher with prior knowledge of physics. However, there should be someone with physics knowledge available for consultation or further explanation if needed. The text is challenging and comprehensive enough to prepare students for the Advanced Placement test. Although it appears that only Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 are prerequisite, some knowledge of trigonometry ahead of time would be helpful. (Students learn trigonometry in Saxon's Advanced Mathematics.) The trigonometry and calculus that students will need is covered within the Physics book, but it would be better if students already had a broader understanding of those subjects.
Saxon uses the same incremental approach that he uses in his math series, which might bother students who prefer comprehensive coverage of one topic at a time. Nevertheless, this text is comprehensive, well-written, and easy-to-use. Explanations are clear, and there are plenty of practical applications to which students can relate. Five "curveball questions" at the end of each chapter force students to think through concepts and applications. Solutions follow immediately after these questions, but I would urge students to wrestle with these on their own before looking at the solutions. The only significant problem is the lack of lab activity.
This course would be best for all students who want to use it only for high school credit, and for non-engineering/science majors who want to test out of a college first-year physics course. Engineering/science majors should take a calculus-based course for physics.
The home study kit includes the text, tests, and answer keys. You should also purchase the solution manual, which is sold separately. [Michael Courtney/C.D.]