Leaving Cert Maths paper 1: Less ‘wordy’ as examiners take criticism on board

New approach as concern over Project Maths considered

A record high of 20,040 (37 per cent) of students opted for the higher level paper this year. Photograph: Getty Images

A record high of 20,040 (37 per cent) of students opted for the higher level paper this year. Photograph: Getty Images

 

This year’s higher-level maths paper contained short questions that got to the point, and was a clear response to criticism that the new Project Maths syllabus was too wordy, teachers have said.

“The paper had enough layers to cater for the wide range of ability typically found in a higher level maths class since the change to the new grading system,” said Margaret Kenny, a maths teacher at Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Enniscrone, Co Sligo, and subject expert with Studyclix.ie.

“It was clear that several questions in section B were structured such that the early part of the question would be accessible to all but the later parts of the question were progressively more challenging to complete successfully and were there to separate the H1 and H2s from the rest of the pack.”

However, students were hit by a sting in the tail on this year’s higher level maths paper, which involved a famous example from the advanced topic of fractal geometry, said Eamonn Boland, founder of TheMathsTutor.ie. “The concepts and skills section was very accessible for a higher level paper. Probably the trickiest question in this section was on arithmetic sequences, but even this should have been very doable for a higher level student. Section B had two fairly straightforward questions.”

Aidan Roantree, a maths teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, said that the higher level paper was dominated by sequences and series, although algebra and calculus were also important.

On the ordinary level paper, Ms Kenny said that section A had many reasonable questions for the practised student and that work done on previous exam questions would have paid off. “Having said this, there were still tricky questions such as question 5 where the later parts of the question depended on getting the earlier parts worked out correctly.”

She said that section B required students to read the questions carefully and that many of the borderline foundation and ordinary level students would have struggled to recognise the concepts.

Mr Toland said that the ordinary paper was a reasonable test but the section on contexts and applications was very wordy. Question scenarios included tsunamism, theatre seating plans and medicinal drugs.

Jean Kelly, a maths teacher at the Institute of Education, said that students would have been delighted with the paper, and that there was very little financial maths on the paper, although the wording of the last part of the calculus question may have thrown them off.

A record high of 20,040 (37 per cent) of students opted for the higher level paper this year, although some may have switched at the last minute. Meanwhile, just over 32,000 are understood to have taken the ordinary level paper.