Straightforward maths and topical geography papers for Leaving Certs

A relatively straightforward first maths exam was faced into by the majority of Leaving Certificate students who took ordinary level Paper 1.

That was the view of Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) subject spokesperson Robert Chaney, who considered it a fair examination. He said a question about profit made on the sale of fibre-optic cables was very accessible, and he remarked positively also on a question dealing with the relationship between femur bone lengths and people’s heights.

More than a quarter of Leaving Certificate students are likely to have opted for the higher level Paper 1. Mr Chaney said the standard skills were examined and it should have suited those who were well prepared.

He said there was a nice complex numbers question, and just one question where most students were likely to have been left scratching their heads. In a table to be filled in about credit card repayments, he said it was difficult to understand one column heading, which appeared to him to have been inserted in error.

This may have been compensated for by what Mr Chaney said was a really nice question allowing students to show their understanding of the graph of a trigonometric function.

In the morning, Leaving Certificate geography was examined, and the ASTI’s Neil Curran said there was a good emphasis on visual and interpretative skills in higher level short questions.

Four of the 12 questions had photos for students to interpret, and one was based on the topical issue of housing, represented in a graphic from Census 2016 data.

He considered the physical geography questions were fine, but cited examples of language difficult for some students, such as a question asking for an explanation of either thermal or regional metamorphism.

There were many other topical issues, such as the economic and social challenges facing EU states, or the ethnic and religious issues that can result from migration.

“A student who reads newspapers or watches the news could have brought in Brexit, or Syria, or even Donald Trump’s migration policies in their answers,” said Mr Curran.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland geography spokesperson Mary Martin said students who covered the whole course well should have managed nicely on the higher level exam.

She also commended the extensive references to maps and photos to test students’ skills. However, she cautioned that the work involved might have created time problems, putting constraints on the ability of students to write down all their knowledge.

One question asked students about the impacts of coastal erosion, an issue Ms Martin said most would be aware of but might have difficulty discussing.

She thought the ordinary level geography exam was very manageable for those happy to demonstrate the range of skills that were tested. The exam tried to be topical, she said, with a National Geographic article about volcanoes and references to Irish involvement in EU migration issues.

Mr Curran said that the ordinary-level exam contained no surprises, and also made good use of photos.

He remarked on the very up-to-date questions, including that based around data on refugees rescued by the Irish Naval Service.

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