The first maths exams, dreaded by so many students each year, brought the first week of the 2016 State exams to a close.

At Leaving Certificate, Robert Chaney of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) said the ordinary level Paper 1 was very fair, testing students on many topics they would have expected.

If students were practised in most skills, they should have worked their way through, and questions led nicely from one part to the next. Mr Chaney singled out nice questions on quadratic and arithmetic sequences as not overly-complicated.

There was also a straight- forward tax question and another about compound interest had no twists to it.

Mr Chaney said the higher level exam was straightforward with no surprises.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) had indicated earlier this year that nearly 35% of maths students would take the higher level papers. But patterns from previous years suggest this will have dropped back to a bit over one-in-four, which will only be known when national results are issued in August.

Mr Chaney said many anticipated topics were examined, including proof by induction and differentiation by first principles.

One aspect of a question he thought might have posed difficulties was a tricky part of a differentiation question. But, he said, students should have managed if they worked through it systematically.

The high number of decimal places to work through in a question about the arc of a basketball’s flight also gave students a lot to do.

Mr Chaney said a geometric series question was quite nice, although it would have been good to develop the aspect about the Fibonacci sequence a bit more.

Most Junior Certificate students — almost 35,000 out of 60,000 — were entered for higher level maths but ASTI’s Tony McGennis said he thought the standard was quite high.

While many parts of the paper could have been of a standard facing students at the end of transition year, he said this would almost certainly be reflected in how papers are marked.

He cited a particularly hard question on sequences and series, which he felt might not be out of place at Leaving Certificate higher level. Elsewhere, he thought it unusual acceleration was brought into a question about time and distance.

Mr McGennis said the ordinary level Junior Certificate maths Paper 1 also featured a question with acceleration. It was a topic likely to have been new to many students, although he thought the related questions were ok.

At foundation level, he noted that two questions were the same or practically the same as two on the ordinary level exam. One was about functions and another, dealing with a boy’s age, might have been a bit abstract for foundation level students.

Meanwhile, Neil Curran of the ASTI said the higher level geography exam for Leaving Certificate students was very fair. Short questions were as might have been expected, but weather and cloud charts in one question were very small, making it difficult for students to read properly.

The paper managed to cover most parts of the course, and there were many topical issues such as the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Mr Curran said students needed more than having learned the course, as many skills were tested, such as map reading, interpreting photos, and analysing data and statistics.

He said the ordinary level short questions were fine but a satellite photograph provided was very small. This paper also tested skills like sketching and graphs.

Junior Certificate geography was examined yesterday morning and ASTI’s Sue Honan said the paper for higher level students was straightforward.

The questions were clearly worded with inviting diagrams and pictures, and question formats followed those of previous years. She said there appeared to be an emphasis on human geography in the second section of the exam.

For ordinary level students, Ms Honan said, more complex language meant students needed to read the questions carefully to ensure they followed instructions. But with a full question on the Ordnance Survey map and another on an aerial photo, students who had prepared for those would have been happy.


Gifts from God and equation errors — students react to geography and maths

The end of the short first week of Junior and Leaving Certificate exams was greeted with mixed emotions by some of the 120,000 students who shared their feelings on papers with Twitter:


With the housing crisis, renovating a run-down property is worth considering if you have the inclination, time, funds and a good team of contractors around you, writes Carol O’CallaghanBehind the scenes in The Great House Revival

How toned is your pelvic floor? If you live in France, it’s likely to be very toned. In Ireland, perhaps not so much.Big squeeze: Why pelvic floor exercises are essential for women

More From The Irish Examiner