Leaving Cert maths paper 1: Accessible exam adds up for most students

No financial maths but plenty of calculus, algebra and geometry

Students and teachers have reacted positively to both the higher and ordinary level maths exams. Photograph: iStock

Students and teachers have reacted positively to both the higher and ordinary level maths exams. Photograph: iStock

 

Students and teachers have reacted positively to both the higher and ordinary level maths exams, despite some surprise that financial maths did not appear on the paper.

Teachers said that the higher-level paper was dominated by calculus, whereas usually algebra is more prominent.

Eamonn Toland, founder of TheMathsTutor.ie, said the higher-level paper was “very accessible, especially as they were able to choose their preferred questions this year.

“Due to Covid-19, this was the first time in the Project Maths era that students had a choice of questions.”

Studyclix.ie expert Alan Boal, a maths teacher at Royal and Prior Comprehensive School in Raphoe, Co Donegal, said the questions were generous.

“It could have been a lot worse although a paper with no financial maths again will have disappointed quite a few people. Students will need to have been confident with their algebra, functions and calculus as these topics dominated paper one.”

Mr Toland said paper one included some interesting topics. “Grandfather clocks, the growth of trees and the rate of cooling of coffee all appeared. Thankfully the examiners steered clear of bringing up Covid-19.

“Most of the questions in section A were quite short but some involved lateral thinking – such as the question on the volume of a cuboid – or were phrased in a somewhat tricky way. Paper one contained a substantial amount of geometry which may surprise some students.”

“In a normal year, there would have been a lot of students looking for H1s with this set of [higher-level] questions,” said Mr Boal.

“Could it potentially mean a gruesome paper two is on the cards? Time will tell.”

‘Lovely’

The ordinary level paper was “lovely”, according to Jean Kelly, a maths teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin.

“Students were delighted and left the exam with smiles on their faces,” Ms Kelly said. “No heavy language was used and the questions were phrased in a clear and concise way. This paper was heavy with number patterns, algebra, financial maths and functions, but very light on differentiation.”

Mr Boal said the short questions on the ordinary level paper were very doable and students had to be happy about with topics including VAT, complex numbers, algebra, functions, calculus and patterns.

“Long questions also made for joyous reading for many students,” he said.

“Question 10b involved a story about John and Mary walking around in circles,” said Mr Toland. “This is perhaps a fitting metaphor for the Covid-19 era.”

Try this at home: Ordinary level maths, paper one

The first three terms of an arithmetic sequence are -5, k, 1.

Find k and hence or otherwise show that the common difference is 3.