The first of two maths papers for most Junior Certificate students brought an end to the first week of exams.

Elaine Devlin, an Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) subject spokesperson, said the papers taken by students at all three levels were nice.

Her higher-level students at De La Salle College in Dundalk were happy with Paper 1, in which she said many questions gave an example of how to do a task before candidates had to do some more on their own.

While this is helpful for students, she said it may reduce overall standards and the impact might be seen as more students doing higher level progress to trying higher level in senior cycle.

The only question Ms Devlin considered students would have found difficult was the very last one on the paper, which was on algebra. 

While it was not as straightforward as she said students hope algebra questions to be, it was not outside the standard to be expected of higher-level students.

Otherwise, she said the paper featured many expected and liked topics such as income tax, number systems and a nice graph.

For ordinary-level students, Ms Devlin said a patterns question was not far off the standard of a very similar question given to higher- level students. But the paper also had the usual questions on themes like timetables and money with which candidates are very familiar, and there were some very nice graph questions.

For about 2,500 students doing foundation-level maths, Ms Devlin said the single paper they take had a lot of “living maths” questions which are liked by those at this standard. 

One, for example, asked about the cost of paint needed by a woman to paint her house.

However, Ms Devlin said there was extreme confusion for many students arising from a very unnecessary diagram. Students were directed to round up or down the change they had calculated from a task about a shopping transaction, depending on whether the amount was odd or even.

The morning’s geography papers included a higher- level exam which ASTI’s Paul Concannon thought was very well balanced. He said it had a good choice of questions and many current topics like migration, urbanisation problems and global warming.

A question based on a diagram about the earth’s structure, which featured magma and lava as answers to choose from, was very current.

“After events in Guatemala last weekend, this was a good topic for any students keeping an eye on the news,” Mr Concannon said.

He felt the combined question on an Ordnance Survey (OS) map and aerial photo was a good test of sketching skills.

For ordinary level candidates, he said question formats were in line with previous years. 

There were the usual full questions on an OS map and on an aerial photo, and familiar topics like population and urban studies were also examined.

Mr Concannon also said it was good to see students’ sketching skills tested in a number of questions.

Tweet reactions

A flavour from Twitter of how Junior and Leaving Certificate students prepared and fared for yesterday’s exam papers.

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