Junior Cycle Maths: ‘we’re looking forward to seeing the memes later’

Ordinary level Paper 2 maths ‘a tough paper for kids who find maths difficult’

The Maths ordinary level paper 2 was said to be too difficult for some students. Photograph: iStockphoto/The Irish Times

The Maths ordinary level paper 2 was said to be too difficult for some students. Photograph: iStockphoto/The Irish Times


The Junior Certificate higher level maths paper was too easy in parts while the ordinary level paper was too difficult for some students, according to teachers.

Elaine Devlin, a teacher at De La Salle Secondary School in Dundalk, said higher level paper 2 was “tricky” in parts.

“Overall, the students would have been happy enough. There were lots of doable parts but for those wishing to get an A, there were also some quite tricky parts,” she said.

“If you were a hard-working student but not brilliant at maths, you would have struggled to get the A here. There were enough hard or challenging parts in every question to act as a little ’trip’ and if you got caught up in it , the A was gone.”

Eamonn Toland, founder of TheMathsTutor.ie said the exam was “overall an accessible paper, with some challenging elements which were ameliorated by a significant amount of scaffolding for this level.

“A mix of traditional questions with some more Project Maths style questions included, including one very far-fetched scenario that will have students rolling their eyes,” he added.

Teachers were particularly critical of Question 7 in which students were asked to use a pair of shoes to measure the height of a local tower.

“I have no idea why they talked about shoe lengths instead of millimeters. If they wanted students to change from one unit into another unit, let it be units that they use. That was a bit ridiculous,” said Ms Devlin.

The question was described by Mr Toland as one that involved “a far-fetched Project Maths scenario where Gary and Rosie are out for a walk, and decide to estimate the height of a tower using one of Gary’s shoes. Students will no doubt roll their eyes when they read this question - we’re looking forward to seeing the memes on social media later.”

In Question 6, students were asked to explain, in writing, the importance of having a representative sample when doing statistical research.

“The last part of Question 6 invited a lot of waffle,” said Ms Devlin.

Students were invited to write a paragraph but could run the risk of not getting any marks as there was “no guidance” for that question.

Question 9, on page 14 of the paper, was “incredibly easy” and “not of a higher-level standard”.

Students were presented with the statement: “If a shape is a square, then it must have four right angles” and were then asked to complete the sentence: “If a shape has four right angles, then ....”

“This is for higher level Junior Cycle students who spent three years sweating it out on a course and this is what they are presented with. It is ridiculous,” Ms Devlin said.

Ms Devlin’s impression of the ordinary level paper was that it was “very challenging”.

She said she believed the ordinary level paper was becoming “too difficult”

“I know it is in an effort to encourage people to do the higher level but it shouldn’t be putting off students who are always going to be ordinary level students from doing well. There is no shame in getting an A in ordinary level and not going to higher level. This was a tough paper for kids who find maths difficult.”

Questions 2(c) and 2(d) were “very similar” to questions on the higher level, she said.

Question 10 (b) on the ordinary level is a similar but actually more difficult than Question 11 (b) on the higher level. Why is that? If you put the two of them beside each other, 10(b) is more difficult and would have been an unexpected question for ordinary level students.

Ms Devlin said Junior Cycle students would have “loved” a question on the point of intersection but said they would not have recognised the question on equations.

“When I spoke to some of the supervisors at the exam centres, they said the students just left a blank.”

“It just makes it so much more difficult for them,” she added.