Saturday 25 October 2014

Leaving Cert: Maths paper 'could have been far worse'

Published 06/06/2014 | 17:06

The first of the Leaving Certificate Maths higher level papers was ”not without its difficulties, but it could have been far worse”, Aidan Roantree, Senior Maths teacher at The Institute of Education, Dublin.

“Naturally as you would expect on a higher level paper there were a few tricky parts” he said.

The final elements of the new, phased-in Project Maths syllabus to be examined were covered in Paper 1 and Mr Roantree said that now that all changes had been incorporated “many of the fears of students across the country will have been allayed.

“Overall student fears about the style of the new Calculus questions proved to be unfounded, as these questions were for the most part accessible and fair”, he said..

Mr Roantree said, in contrast, a feature of the paper was the absence of any difficult Differentiation, a significant part of the syllabus and one which would have taken a lot of class time.

In Section A, he said  Q 1 on Graphs was “very manageable” and while the final part of Q 2 on Complex Mumbers might have appeared unusual, if students applied methods from Trigonometry or Coordinate Geometry they would have found it quite manageable.

“Bar this, there was no other question in Section A that would have caused a surprise” he said..

He said  Section B, which contains application questions that cannot be predicted, had a surprising number of accessible parts, with only a couple that may have proved challenging to some students.

But he said a major surprise was the absence of a question on Financial Maths, although this was partly made up for by a question on Exponential Decay, a related idea.

His colleague, Jean Kelly, described .the ordinary level paper as lovely and  accessible

“Overall there were very few topics asked and even the harder topics that did feature on the paper weren’t that demanding. Students of all abilities would have left the exam with a smile on their face”, she said.

While Ms Kelly described Section A as 2very manageable”, she said Q 2 on Complex Numbers, Part a, iii, “may have caused difficulty for some students, as they were asked to explain, in their own words, the theory behind the application”.

Meanwhile, Functions & Graphs and Calculus, “always the hardest topics on the old syllabus, which many students would have been apprehensive about, were far less challenging than anticipated”.

Ms Kelly said there was “nothing unexpected” in Section B , although two parts of the syllabus that normally appear on Paper 2, Area & Volume and Co-ordinate Geometry, were integrated in to other topics in this section, which may have surprised some students.

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

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