Maths and Irish were on the menu for Leaving Certificate students at the start of week two yesterday.

The majority doing maths took ordinary level, and Robert Chaney, of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, said Paper 2, which they faced in the morning, should not have been too challenging.

“Questions were well worded, and had nicely graduated steps,” he said.

He was also pleased with the accompanying diagrams or other visuals provided to aid students.

Another positive aspect was the choice given to students on which mathematical methods they used, rather than the prescriptive questions on some past exams. For example, they could use either a graphic, numerical, or algebraic method to find where too lines crossed in part of one question.

A question about metered water usage and billing was a relevant way to test various skills, Mr Chaney said.

He thought the higher-level exam probably challenged students more than their first paper on Friday afternoon had.

While he considered it fair, some questions were less straightforward and tested lesser-used skills, such as one seeking the co-ordinates of a triangle’s orthocentre. Similarly, students who had not practised skills might not have known how to do part of a question about trigonometric identities.

However, a student who knew the rules and procedures would not have been too challenged by a probability question. Mr Chaney also considered a geometry question about a pyramid very straightforward, but felt some students might have found the final part of a question about changing income levels difficult.

In the afternoon, the first of this year’s Leaving Certificate Irish papers were sat.

Ruth Morrissey, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland subject spokeswoman, said the choice of essay titles at higher and ordinary levels gave students a chance to write about topics they had prepared for ahead of their oral exams.

Among the subjects from which higher-level candidates could pick to compose an essay or news article were the 1916 commemorations, Irish people and emigration, youth culture, and rural life in Ireland.

“They had good scope to deal with a number of subjects they would have covered in class and ahead of their orals,” said Ms Morrissey.

Another alternative was to write a speech on the topic of elderly people’s lives, or a radio item for a newly-elected TD about their plans for the new Dáil term.

Asti’s Robbie Cronin said the choice of essays were wide ranging and fair. For the aural test, he felt the questions were as expected for students at this level, although some may have had difficulty with the word ‘aiféala, meaning regret.

Ms Morrissey said the aural test had the usual tricky dialects that may be difficult for some students but no more than in other years. She felt the questions for all levels were fair, being similar to those that come up again and again.

She was equally pleased about composition choices at ordinary level. They could write about last summer or a favourite pastime, a letter or email about a school trip or sporting event, or a conversation on the differences between city and country life.

Mr Cronin thought the questions on the aural test were quite difficult and he spoke to students who found the test very difficult.

However, he said the written composition section was not so difficult. He felt there was plenty of choice among the essay titles.

For students at foundation level, who are examined in just one paper instead of the two taken at higher and ordinary level, Mr Cronin thought the standard was very tough.

He said some questions and comprehension pieces were a bit more difficult than you would see at ordinary level. A question in the listening test asked who fainted due to the heat, one which he felt some higher-level students might have had difficulty understanding.

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