Applied maths adds up for students as Leaving Cert exams finish

Leaving Certificate 2018 ended much as it started, with warm weather and a fairly good reception for the day’s papers.

Applied maths was one of five subjects in which exams were taken at official State Examinations Commission (SEC) exam centres in schools and colleges.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) subject spokesman Christy Maginn praised those who set the higher level exam, which the vast majority of more than 2,100 entered candidates will have taken.

As has been the case for many years, he said, it was a very accessible exam that provides enabling questions. Mr Maginn felt that meant students could show off their skills and techniques, but at the same time they really tested the ability of candidates to apply their knowledge in unfamiliar situations and scenarios.

A question on projectiles, for example, provided evidence of this as it was about two particles firing against each other, something which students would not have seen before. In another question on an oblique collision, the two particles were also fired against each other.

One type of question which might often be avoided could have been taken on by a lot of students, Mr Maginn suggested, as it was based this year on two items they would have been familiar with, a ladder and two jointed rods.

There was an unfamiliar type of question about population decline, but he said that students who may not have liked the look of it first could have found with some careful reading and thought that it could be quite elegantly solved.

Nearly all the 1,550 students entered for technology were lined up to do the higher level exam.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) subject spokeswoman Fiona Byrne said students reported that the first section of the paper was very challenging, with short questions in which they needed very exact language and many unfamiliar terms appearing.

She noted that because of the nature of the subject, and the rapidly-changing developments in the world of technology, teachers need to go beyond the textbooks as aspects of them can become dated quite rapidly.

While they were not necessarily very accessible, Ms Byrne said the second and third sections of the exam were certainly more so than the first part.

She thought, however, that most students would not have known about the role of a repeater in wireless transmission as asked in one part of a question.

On the other hand, there was a very good World Cup theme in a robotics question about crowd control and waste management, and the final section contained very relevant topics and no real surprises.

For religious education students, TUI’s Stephen O’Hara reported the higher level exam was demanding as usual and would also have left students tight for time to finish.

However, he said, the paper would have rewarded those students who put in hard work, featuring nice styles of questions and a good choice of topics with no ‘curveballs’ that might put students off.

Students also took exams in Japanese and in Italian, the latter considered fine papers by ASTI subject spokesman Robbie Cronin. He said the higher level exam opened with a challenging piece about turning open areas into sport centres, had fair questions on a literary prose piece and an unusual but interesting item on jumping into water to save someone’s life.


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