Junior Cert geography and maths: old and new

Students happy with predictable paper while project maths makes afternoon debut

A good spread of questions greeted students, although some were surprised at the omission of the topic of migration, especially considering how current the issue is. File photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

A good spread of questions greeted students, although some were surprised at the omission of the topic of migration, especially considering how current the issue is. File photograph: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Fri, Jun 6, 2014, 22:14

It was a good morning for Junior Cert students, particularly the geography buffs who would have done well in a “very predictable” higher level paper.

A good spread of questions greeted students, although some were surprised at the omission of the topic of migration, especially considering how current the issue is. “There wasn’t very much asked about regions either,” said Valerie Redmond, geography teacher in the Presentation Secondary School, Wexford.

Short questions encompassed a wide spread of topics and included a section about Ireland’s housing vacancy rates.

There were no shocks in the longer questions apart from a question about population change which was “slightly unusual”, according to Ms Redmond.

“The wording of some of the questions was slightly difficult,” Ms Redmond said. “Strong students would have been fine but the average students might have struggled slightly.”

This was a problem repeated at ordinary level, where students may have struggled with the wording of some of the questions, according to Ms Redmond.

In the afternoon, maths paper one, which this year is mostly based on the new Junior Cert project maths syllabus, made its debut. For the first time, students wrote their answers directly into the exam paper, not on a separate script.

As expected, the higher level paper was a mixture of wordy and more straightforward problems. It was “much less predictable than the old style paper and required a lot more interpretation and analytical skills,” said Eamonn Toland, founder of TheMathsTutor.ie.

The paper featured an interesting question about filling water into some unusually shaped containers, according to Mr Toland.

“The question on generating prime numbers asked for reasons and explanations regarding methods which don’t always work, which may have confused some students,” Mr Toland said.

By contrast, the final old-syllabus question on functions was “quite predictable and uninteresting”.

Ordinary level did not hit quite the right note for its students, according to Mr Toland, who criticised the “gimicky” puzzle-solving questions and questions where students are asked to explain how to do a calculation without a calculator. “This is a big ask at this level. Literacy can be a big factor for the students,” Mr Toland said.