Tuesday 25 June 2019

Leaving Cert Maths: Paper 2 'a lot more challenging than paper 1'

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Teachers had mixed views on the Leaving Cert higher level Maths Paper 2.

Aidan Roantree of Dublin’s Institute of Education said students would have been “far less happy” than they were coming out of Friday’s exam .

"Whereas it was too much to expect as straightforward a paper as on Friday, there was a significant jump in standard going from Paper 1 to Paper 2," he said.

Meanwhile, Eamonn Toland of TheMathsTutor.ie website said “there was a lot of tricky geometry and even Q1 was not completely straightforward”.

Financial maths did not make the same surprise appearance on Paper 2 as it had last year, and Mr Toland said while "some students are likely to have been disappointed that financial maths did not show up in either paper others may be relieved!"

However, Sean Donnelly, teacher at the Studyclix.ie delivered a more upbeat view .

He described it as a  “true Project Maths” paper and said“it definitely rewarded problem solvers and deep thinkers” who, he felt, would he happier than they were with Paper 1.

“This is a promising trend for Project Maths, as the emphasis is not to fool, but to challenge,” he said

He said “the most notable thing about this year’s Paper 2 is, without a doubt, the amount of thinking a student is forced to do without being given all the variables or even an approach.

“It was a very good indication of what Project Maths is all about, with less marks being available for proofs or constructions, and more for performing the kinds of thought experiments that are required for probability in particular.”

In Section A, he said Qs 3 and 4 might caused some doubts however, with “Q3 being more time consuming and Q4 being a less conventional trigonometry question which massively put a student’s deductive reasoning to the test.”

He added that many students  would have struggled to complete  Q6, on probability: “The wording of the question is the real challenge here and its appearance deceived those who didn’t stick with it to delve into what was required.”

Marion Lowry of Yeats College, Galway said the paper “rewarded the consistent worker and provided challenges in the right parts of the questions to enable students to feel confident to push through to the end. “

She said students faced a paper “with no traditional Statistics which was embraced by the more problem solving critical thinkers”.

Ms Lowry though that, compared with previous years, “this  paper will send out a positive vibe about future students considering the uptake of this subject.”Mr Roantree said Section A was the most difficult with “six of the 14 question parts  at the upper end on the scale of difficulty”.

Apart from “a very benign Q 2, each of the other questions in Section A had the potential to put off students”, he added.

Meanwhile, of the 18 question parts in Section B,” four to five were challenging and the others would have been familiar to most students, “ he said.

Ordinary level candidates faced a “long paper, with lots for students to do in each question and they will have needed the full two and a half hours to complete it," according to his colleague Jean Kelly.

She said there was a ”nice mixture of topics within questions”, with a number of topics, appearing for the first time.

“The language used on the paper was clear and concise and students were prompted in the right direction,” she added

Ms Kelly described the short questions a very straightforward, although she said candidates may have found Q5, on the speed at which water flows through a pipe. “tricky, as this type of question hasn’t appeared before”.

In Question 6, students were asked to construct a parallelogram and she said this  had not been asked before either. “But it was nice and straight-forward and students would have been well prepared for it, although Part B, finding angles in a triangle, may have challenged weaker students”.

In Section B, she said while Q7 on statistics was “nice and manageable. The last table, in Part D, may have thrown a few students”.

And in Q8, on area and volume mixed with statistics, “the combination might have thrown some students” She added that this was also the first time displacement and Archimedes Principle had appeared.

Mr Toland described the paper  as “a fair test “, but also noted questions in Section B were “quite long and contained lots of information and context, which can be a challenge for students in an exam situation”.

“But overall most of the questions involved fairly straightforward maths,” he said.

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