Junior Cert maths: Ordinary paper lacked any ‘serious’ challenge

Higher paper ‘broadly fair but will have challenged the weaker students in parts’

Junior Cert maths is too simple and is failing to prepare students for the challenges of Leaving Cert, according to John Brennan, a teacher at the Ballinteer Institute in Dublin.

Junior Cert maths is too simple and is failing to prepare students for the challenges of Leaving Cert, according to John Brennan, a teacher at the Ballinteer Institute in Dublin.

 

Junior Cert maths is too simple and is failing to prepare students for the challenges of Leaving Cert, according to John Brennan, a teacher at the Ballinteer Institute in Dublin.

Mr Brennan said that the higher level paper was “broadly fair but will have challenged the weaker students in parts, especially part 4C, which focused on trigonometry.

“And in recent years, there are far more students taking higher level maths that really should not be.”

He pointed out that question three on the higher level paper could be approached in different ways and suggested that the marking scheme should reflect the fact that any of these approaches are equally valid.

There too many students taking higher level, said Mr Brennan, who also runs leavingcertsolutions.com.

“Students are just not as strong as they used to be, and this was reflected in the recent report from the chief examiner where concerns were expressed about candidates’ lack of basic competency in algebra,” Mr Brennan said.

“These Junior Cert students are going to struggle with many aspects of ordinary level Leaving Cert maths. Anecdotally, third-level lecturers are in despair over the quality of some of their first years.”

Eamonn Toland of themathstutor.com said that the higher-level paper was challenging and with a clear emphasis on the style required by Project Maths, the new syllabus which focused on real-world applications.

“Several questions tested knowledge of more than one area, as is typical for Project Maths. Notably a question on the volume of cylinders which also tested sequences.”

Mr Toland said that the ordinary level paper “saw a return to the verbosity of 2014, which will be a disadvantage to many students at this level who have weaker literacy skills.

“This paper is unrelentingly Project Maths style right from the start, involving lots of real-world scenarios, some quite long-winded. It was certainly more challenging than the 2015 paper.”

Mr Brennan said that the ordinary level paper was fine but lacking in any serious level of challenge or substantial maths.