Sunday 24 September 2017

Teacher's view: A generous Higher Maths paper.... and proof positive of the Illuminati

In the end, as always, some tips were spot on, others not so much
In the end, as always, some tips were spot on, others not so much

Eamonn Toland

For the second year running, Leaving Cert students sat down to a full Project Maths Paper One today.

There was much discussion online about what was expected to come up - De Moivre, proof by induction, financial maths all being tipped as bankers.

In the end, as always, some tips were spot on, others not so much.

The Higher Paper One was generally met with a favourable reception. Most of the contexts and applications questions were fair and would have been very accessible for Higher Level students.

However, students who did not know their geometric series may have struggled - it appeared in three different contexts across the paper.

The financial maths question, which was hotly anticipated, was quite straightforward.

Section B, contexts and applications, posed some interesting problems, including an airplane landing and an oil slick - thankfully not in the same scenario. Some students have expressed disappointment at the absence of De Moivre's Theorem and proof by induction. For others, this omission came as quite a relief.

The Ordinary Paper One, by contrast, has drawn a largely negative response from many students.

Some Section A questions were presented in a way that might have been unfamiliar to many students, which made them much more challenging.

For example, question 3 (c) was a relatively straightforward factorisation question. However, not presented in those terms, students may not have recognised it as such.

Question 7, showing a triangular pattern, was a difficult question with eight separate parts, carrying almost a quarter of the marks for the paper. Whether it was the distinctive visual pattern or the difficulty of the question, this question has been cited by some students on Twitter as proof positive of the Illuminati.

Probably not what the examiner had in mind when testing quadratic patterns.

Overall the Higher paper was a little easier than those from recent years, while the opposite is true for the Ordinary paper.

All attention is now focused on Paper Two on Monday, which will include the problematic area of Inferential Statistics for the first time.

However, it's a small part of the syllabus, so students are well advised to give appropriate attention to the rest of statistics, probability and all of geometry too.

Eamonn Toland is the founder of, an online support system for Project Maths.

Irish Independent

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