Fair Maths papers should leave most happy

The country’s Leaving Certificate students were examined in the first phase of the much-hyped Project Maths syllabus yesterday.

Maths Paper 2 was made up mostly of questions on elements of the new course which will form the basis of both Leaving Certificate papers in 2014.

Bríd Griffin, Teachers’ Union of Ireland maths spokeswoman, said the higher-level paper at first glance appeared to be more difficult than it really was and it was formatted in line with sample papers.

She said there was a lot of reading in some contexts and applications questions, particularly the one about mortgages. But she said it was a realistic application of maths concepts, dealing with arrears and negative equity.

Overall, she thought it was an appropriate paper for average and higher-performing students, and should balance out the more difficult Paper 1.

Brigid Cleary, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland maths representative, thought it a fair assessment of the new course, with a mix of difficult and easier questions.

She said the first question on co-ordinate geometry was easier than in previous years. But a question on the equation for a common tangent may have surprised many students, and they may have struggled with the circle and tangent question.

Ms Cleary thought the language and terminology was bothersome in parts of the contexts and applications section, but not as complicated as was feared.

The ordinary level exam was less wordy than might have been expected, Ms Cleary said. She considered it a very fair paper but said some students were unclear about being asked to write a geometrical result in one question.

Ms Griffin thought the ordinary level Leaving Certificate maths exam was in keeping with sample paper formats. While an area and volume question from the old syllabus was very straightforward, she said the final part of a geometry question may have troubled some students and the opening question on probability might also have caused problems.

At Junior Certificate, Ms Griffin thought yesterday’s Paper 2 at higher level should have left most students pleased.

She said some might have been challenged by part of the area and volume question and some theorem questions might have been difficult to anybody who had not learned all the theorems.

Ms Griffin said the ordinary level exam was along usual lines and any students who had practiced on previous papers should have been well prepared.

Ms Cleary said both Junior Certificate exams were of the same standards as previous years and neither contained any surprises.

Junior Certificate civic, social and political education was examined in the afternoon and ASTI representative Jeanne Barrett said a good knowledge of the Irish political system was needed for the short questions. She was pleased with the questions about the national age card and a campaign to reduce the voting age.

CSPE Teachers’ Association spokesman Brendan O’Regan said the option in the final section about Universal Children’s Day was topical ahead of Ireland’s referendum on children’s rights, and another about developing a local youth centre was well linked to the community concepts in the curriculum.

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