Sunday 25 February 2018

A subject that threw up a few challenges


Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

LEAVING Certificate higher level maths lived up to its reputation for nasty surprises with Paper 1 yesterday.

"One of the most challenging maths papers of recent times, and geared to only the most exceptional candidates", was how Aidan Roantree of the Institute of Education in Dublin described it.

He said of the six most popular questions, three of them had elements that were exceptionally challenging.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) denied claims there was a mistake in one question, and that another was not covered by the syllabus.

Following some complaints, an SEC spokesperson said that question 7 (b) as presented was correct, and that the material examined in question 8 (c) was within the syllabus.

Brigid Cleary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and St Flannan's College, Ennis, raised issue with a number of questions including Q 1 (b) (ii). She said "students didn't have a clue what to do".

Question 7 was a "bit of a disaster because students were asked to express something in terms of X, when it should have been T, and it also included graphs which are not on the syllabus", she said

Brid Griffin of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) and Carlow Institute of Further Education, said the paper was a mixed bag.

"It will be difficult to get an A, but other than that it was well within students' capabilities."

She said some of the (c) parts were challenging, and provided a sting in the tail of questions.

Mr Roantree said question 8 was a traditional banker for students, but the vast majority would have been very disappointed, particularly in (c) which was "virtually undoable".

Ms Griffin said that question 8 did not stick to its structured form and if students had prepared they should be okay, but otherwise they could in trouble.

At ordinary level, Ms Cleary said the questions were too wordy in parts.

Jean Kelly of the Institute of Education described ordinary level maths as "fair and very doable".

The paper gave weaker candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their mathematical skill, while some tricky elements presented more capable candidates the chance to showcase their knowledge, she said.

Irish Independent

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