Leaving Cert Maths Paper 2: Nasty surprise on higher paper

Teachers react to ‘tough’ higher-level paper and ‘easy in parts’ ordinary-level exam

This year’s higher-level maths paper was said to be demanding. File photograph: iStock

This year’s higher-level maths paper was said to be demanding. File photograph: iStock


The second of this year’s higher-level maths papers was very demanding, with some especially tough parts and a nasty surprise, according to teachers.

“It was easily the trickier of the two exams,” said Eamonn Toland, founder of TheMathsTutor.ie.

“The concepts and skills section had some deceptively tricky questions. For example, the question on the empirical rule had a twist that might have stumped some students, although it could be solved without using the empirical rule.”

Mr Toland added: “The two geometry questions were fairly doable but the statistics question was quite difficult.

“The students had to be very good at interpreting abstract mathematical results and some of the parts were quite different from previous statistics questions. This is a part of the course that many students find difficult so parts of this question might have stumped quite a few of them.”

Luke Saunders, Studyclix.ie founder and a maths teacher at Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Enniscrone, Co Sligo, said that students sitting higher-level maths paper two would have found section A relatively straightforward but that there was a sting in the tail in section B.

“Question 8 combined questions on statistics with probability and may have thrown some weaker students,” he said.

Mr Saunders was surprised to see a question on sequences and series appear on the paper given that they had been a particularly dominant topic on paper one.

Aidan Roantree, senior maths teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, said it was a very demanding paper and that to move beyond a H4 or H5, students would have required a very good understanding of the material.

“The headline surprise is the inclusion of a question on financial maths on paper two, which normally appears exclusively on paper one,” he said.

“The most difficult of the geometry proofs was asked and the B part of question 8 was a completely new in-depth analysis of the margin of error approximation, which was very tough.”

However, he said the questions on geometry and trigonometry were generally “very fair”.

With regards to the ordinary-level paper, Mr Toland said that section A was easy but section B contained some tricky statistics.

The number of atoms in a solid gold sphere was among the topics featured.

“The concepts and skills question was fairly straightforward and many of the parts were extremely easy,” he said.

“For example, to complete a table that shows the possible values for the sum of two dice the student only needs to be able to add two numbers together. The concepts and applications section had quite a lot of statistics, which is normally a topic reserved for higher level.

“Even though the question is fairly straightforward, many students at ordinary-level may not be familiar with the phrase ‘confidence interval’.”

Mr Saunders said that students who were comfortable with applying trigonometry and geometry skills would have been happy with today’s paper and that it was typical of what is expected from Project Maths.

Try this at home: Leaving Cert higher-level maths paper two

Q8(c) Acme Confectionary has an employee pension plan. For an employee who qualifies for the full pension, Acme Confectionary will pay a sum of €20,000 on the day of retirement.

It will then pay a sum on the same date each subsequent year for the next 25 years.

Each year the employee is paid a sum that is 1 per cent more than the amount paid in the previous year.

What sum of money must the company have set aside on the day of retirement in order to fund this pension? Assume an annual interest rate (AER) of 2.4 per cent.