Leaving Cert maths paper helps settle the nerves

THE second round of maths papers was taken by Junior and Leaving Certificate students at more than 700 schools around the country yesterday morning.

Around five-in-six Leaving Certificate students took the second ordinary level paper which Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) spokesperson Imelda Moloney said had nothing untoward for most students.

Christina Kennedy of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) said the availability of a formulae and tables booklet in the exam for the first time should have made geometry and other questions more accessible for many. While the final parts of some questions were challenging, she said the opening questions on area and volume should have settled most people’s nerves.

Another ASTI member, Elaine Devlin, said the higher level Leaving Certificate exam had clearly-presented questions on vectors and the circle, although it was quite a challenging paper. She said students who recognised Pythagorean triplets in the final part of one question should be given marks and the probability questions were very fair.

Ms Devlin said the higher level Junior Certificate maths paper introduced new labelling in geometry questions for the first time and the availability of formulae in the tables book meant there were some more challenging questions, but she felt the paper was fair overall.

TUI’s Michael Berry said most higher level students should have been happy, although the final parts of the two geometry questions were challenging. He felt the first parts of most questions meant the majority of candidates should have done well on a paper which had very clear diagrams.

Ms Kennedy said ordinary level Junior Certificate maths Paper 2 was tougher than the first paper but should have been straightforward for most students.

The first Leaving Certificate Irish papers were taken in the afternoon, with ASTI’s Robbie Cronin saying the essay choices for higher level candidates were not the best. They included a debate speech on the future of Gaeltachts and an essay about Ireland’s future as a member of the EU, although he felt many students may have opted for a nicer title about the importance of good news.

He criticised the lack of glossaries with the two comprehension pieces and said the first piece about a retired teacher doing the El Camino de Santigo de Compostela walk was unfairly difficult.

Mr Cronin was happier about the ordinary level essay titles and had no major difficulties around the two comprehension pieces, although one might have been a bit tough for some students. He said the letter question was more demanding than in other years, as it required the writers to suggest their friend apply for a job in the hotel where they have been working.

For Junior Certificate students, the civic, social and political education (CSPE) exam featured pictures of President Mary McAleese and England’s Queen Elizabeth, but ASTI’s Jeanne Barrett thought EU Commission President Manual Barosso might not have been as recognisable for most students. She said the exam featured a nice range of topical issues, such as Barack Obama’s US presidential campaign and mobile phone ringtones which made clear to teenagers how the EU impacts on their everyday lives.

Brendan O’Regan of the CSPE Teachers Association said some parts of the exam were more demanding than usual, with a lot of text in some stimulus material about the environment, human rights and animal rights.

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