Sunday 18 August 2019

Leaving Cert Maths: Students pleased but told 'don't put away your financial math notes just yet'

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Overall students will be very pleased with the Leaving Cert higher level Maths Paper 1, which was much shorter and easier than they experienced in their mock exams, said teacher Aidan Roantree.

He said while some of the more tricky elements of the course were examined, these would only have accounted for a relatively small number of marks. “And most of them had been well flagged,” he added.

Like last year, there was no financial maths on Paper 1, but Mr Roantree cautioned:  “Don’t put away your financial maths notes just yet! Remember what happened last year: Financial maths made an unwelcome appearance on Paper 2”

Mr Roantree, of Dublin’s Institute of Education, said if any topic could be said to have dominated Paper 1 this year, it was algebra.

“A large number of questions, in both sections, required different elements of algebra. This is not to say that calculus, both differentiation and integration, complex numbers and sequences & series were absent. They were there all right, but not in any dominant way” he said.

According to Mr Roantree, many of the Section A questions, the Concepts and Skills section, were very well thought out and quite clever.   Some managed to range over three topics in the one question.

Mr Roantree said the Section B questions were “fair and manageable”, although one required the solutions of a number of slightly awkward trig equations.

“Most students will be more than content. It could have been far worse!” he said.

For Eamonn Toland,  founder of the TheMathsTutor.ie website,  “ the accessibility of Section A balanced out some challenging parts in Section B.”

He said the only slight twist in this Section A  was the appearance of mean and median in a question on algebra, which might have been a little surprising at first.

In Section B,  Contexts and Applications, he said  the examiner continued a trend of borrowing some concepts from advanced third level maths to create a question

“This year they used the Cantor set which is a famous example of a fractal. The description of the question is quite difficult and may have caused problems for some students. Good students had a chance to show their stuff on the question on the Cantor set.

He said the question on calculus in this section  was pretty straightforward, although part (iii) was not clearly stated. Did they mean find the ratio?

Sean Donnelly, a teacher at the Studyclix.ie website said while the paper was “very nice, there was some very challenging calculus”.

He noted the “massive emphasis” on algebra in Section A, with every question requiring students to find the value of an unknown in various manners.

Among the other points  he made was that the iteration of proof by induction in Q2 was also less typical and tested fundamental knowledge of induction due to its unfamiliarity.

He said Section B was, in many ways, harder to approach and would have been more time consuming for a lot of students.

“Many students will have spent too much time answering Section A, and they will undoubtedly have been disappointed to find a more time consuming Section B appear without enough time to focus on it. This type of paper definitely rewarded flexible thinkers who could prioritise the questions appropriately and knew when to move on to another question.”

Jean Kelly,  another teacher at the Institute of Education,  described the ordinary level paper as “very nice” although the last question, Q9, on financial maths, may have thrown some of the weaker students.

Algebra, financial maths, and functions and graphs all appeared heavily on the paper.

Ms Kelly  noted that Q2 Part B in the short questions, hadn’t been asked since Project Maths started and students would have been well prepared for it.

Also in the short questions, Q 5, part A on the Trapezoidal Rule, which involved  a bit of measuring ,  may have surprised some students, as area and volume normally appears on Paper 2, she said.

Ms Kelly added that  part B of the same  question, involving converting metres per second to kilometres per hour, may have caught a few students out, although it was on the sample paper proved by the Department.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News