Wednesday 18 July 2018

Twists and unfamiliar hurdles on challenging final day of Leaving Cert

Padraig Finnerty and Danny Dixon after their exam at St Patrick's Classical School in Navan, Co Meath. Photo: Frank McGrath
Padraig Finnerty and Danny Dixon after their exam at St Patrick's Classical School in Navan, Co Meath. Photo: Frank McGrath
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The final day of the Leaving Cert wasn't without its challenges, as students tackled papers in Italian, Japanese, technology, religious education and applied maths.

True to form, the applied maths higher level paper was "testing", said teacher Christy Maginn, although he wouldn't say it was "difficult".

Mr Maginn, an ASTI subject representative and teacher at St Declan's College, Cabra, Dublin, said there were nuances and approaches to questions students wouldn't have seen before "but it doesn't mean they were inaccessible".

He cited question three on projectiles, question five on collision, and question 10 as examples. On the latter, he said if students "thought about it sensibly, they could overcome the hurdle of unfamiliarity and it could be very elegantly solved".

Tony Magennis, also ASTI, and a teacher at Errigal College, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, described it as a "traditional paper", with the exception of question one, which is normally about acceleration, but this year, friction - usually in a different question - was brought into it.

Hilary Dorgan of Dublin's Institute of Education thought it "presented difficult twists and turns in almost every question".

"In one way, you would have to compliment the setter for coming up with new ways of framing the questions that can be argued are still within the bounds of the syllabus."

But questions were "far too challenging for the average student who attempts applied maths as an extra subject," she said.

Ms Dorgan said if a student was very bright and remained calm, the paper would have suited them. "But is it fair the paper is set to challenge the top 10pc of the bright 3pc of students who do applied maths?" She also said the exam either needed to be lengthened by 30 minutes or the questions made shorter.

Meanwhile, the Italian higher level paper started with a "challenging piece" about turning open areas into sports centres, according to teacher Robbie Cronin. An ASTI subject representative and teacher at Marian College, Ballsbridge, Dublin, he said it was an "interesting journalistic article but definitely challenging."

Meanwhile at ordinary level, he thought an article about car-sharing was "a bit too difficult for this level".

Irish Independent

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