'Wordy questions' throw some students in Junior Cert Maths Paper 1

'Wordy questions' throw some students in Junior Cert Maths Paper 1
Ballincollig Community School student William Tun after the Junior Cert Maths Paper 1. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Students would have required stamina and concentration to get the best out of the Junior Cert Higher Level Maths Paper 1 exam.

Overall, the paper was described as "accessible" but many of the sections included "wordy questions" that could have thrown some students.

However, the inclusion of a series of real-world scenarios, including a 5k race, an exercise programme and personal finance, would have helped students relate to the exam.

Eamonn Toland, founder of theMathsTutor.ie, said that students had to recall many of the skills learned throughout the year.

"There was a heavy emphasis on sets, graphs, factors and sequences, as well as the usual algebra and numerical skills," he said.

Elaine Devlin, ASTI Maths spokesperson and teacher from De La Salle Secondary School, Castleblayney Road, Dundalk said that the first half of the paper was "traditional, nice and doable."

However, she said that issues were clear in the second half of the paper.

"There was a huge emphasis on sequences and series," she said.

"This would have taken about 30 minutes of a two-and-a-half hour exam, which is a huge amount of time to spend on one topic.

"There was also real confusion for students and teachers in the phrasing of question 13 (C).

"Every student I spoke to was so confused by this and little things like that need to be avoided when setting an exam."

Ms Devlin said that students sitting the Ordinary Level Paper 1 sat a "doable" paper but she raised concerns about the decision to remove the Foundation Level paper.

"This year is the penultimate foundation level exam and it is such a nice paper for those who find maths challenging," she said.

I don't know why it is being removed and so many people will have nowhere to go unless there is a dumbing down of the Ordinary Level paper.

This year, of the 64,354 students sitting the Junior Cert Maths exam, 2,381 were expected to opt for the Foundation Level exam.

Meanwhile, before they turned their focus to Maths, students were taking their Geography exam.

Students will be happy with a paper that included "no real surprises", according to ASTI Geography Spokespeople Margaret Fitzpatrick of Midleton CBS Secondary School and John Byrne of Hamilton High School in Bandon.

They said the papers covered a wide range of topics, including climate change, weather and the impact of human activity on the environment.

The questions on Ordnance Survey maps and Aerial Photographs were "very accessible" for students.

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