Maths and the Leaving Certificate

 

Sir, – Seán Byrne (Letters, November 7th) bemoans “the absence of matrices, calculus and complex numbers” from a “modern maths exam”. Continuing, he states, “The topics listed were never on the Intermediate Certificate but they were essential topics on the Leaving Certificate until the 1990s”.

Two of these three topics, complex numbers and calculus, are still on the Leaving Cert syllabus for maths, even at ordinary level, and are examined every year.

Whereas some material has been removed from the syllabus, more has been added. In particular, the statistics aspect has been increased in profile at both higher and lower level. Confidence intervals and sampling are now part of the ordinary-level course, which means that students will know after Leaving School what it means when they hear that the margin of error in a political poll is plus or minus 3 per cent, and that the poll was carried out among 1,000 people countrywide.

For many, this is a more valuable asset than the ability to find the eigen-values of a matrix. – Yours, etc,

FINTAN GIBNEY,

Dublin 9.