Higher maths gets mixed response

Mon, Jun 11, 2012, 01:00

There was a mixed response to this morning's higher level maths paper with some teachers describing 'trauma and shock' among students and others reporting a broadly positive reaction.

The number of Leaving Cert students taking today's maths paper at higher level was expected to jump by around 25 per cent, as the subject will attract a points bonus for those securing a minimum grade this year.

Today's higher and ordinary level papers contained elements of the new Project Maths curriculum, which will be fully implemented by 2014.

"Students' nervousness in advance of this exam paper was well founded," said Aidan Rowntree of the Institute of Education in Dublin.

"Although many students may have been traumatised on initial reading of the paper, 5 of the 6 questions in section A were doable. However, Questions 3 stopped them in their tracks."

Other teachers criticised the language used in this morning's exam.

"Overall this was quite a difficult paper, especially given that this is the first full group of students to sit Project Maths," said Eamon Toland of the themathstutor.ie.

"We would have hoped for an easier opener to help settle students nerves about this new style paper. The biggest issue is the poor wording of the questions. Question 4 on probability is an example of this. Also, it is debatable whether or not parts of Q7 on statistics are really on the syllabus."

Maths teacher Brendan Gildea also questioned the alignment of the exam with the syllabus content. "Our candidates spent many hours learning about solving trigonomic equations, the sin/cos rule, permutations and combinations, periodic graphs and none of these was touched. This exam in no way assessed what candidates learned."

However, TUI subject convener Brid Griffin felt that the paper looked worse than it was. "At first glance it looked difficult, but once you got working on it it was more managable. It was in line with the format we were expecting for the first Project Maths paper.

Asti representative Brigid Cleary also reported that most students were quite happy with the paper, although one student in Ennis complained that the content of Question 7, on mortgage arrears, was too close to home. "Miss, I'm listening to stuff about late mortgage payments at home all the time. Exam questions shouldn't be so personal," the students is reported to have told his teacher.