STATE EXAMS: Record numbers for higher level mathematics

The highest number of students on record was entered for higher level maths and the first of two papers was considered fair.

STATE EXAMS: Record numbers for higher level mathematics

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) subject spokeswoman Sarah Barnicoat said it was straightforward in parts, with no unforeseen pitfalls in section A, and financial maths made an appearance.

She said the second section appeared to pose more challenges that required students to think at a deeper level but some more difficult parts were still manageable.

Ms Barnicoat said there was a lot more calculus examined than in previous years but it was a fair paper overall.

Robert Chaney, on behalf of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), agreed it was fair. He said a question about a landing plane required students to visualise a difficult concept, while another about an oil spill was challenging.

While the final question on calculating lengths of days was straightforward, he thought many students would have been caught for time at that point.

Mr Chaney said the ordinary level paper was challenging for many students, but some parts looked more difficult than they actually were due to wording or other aspects. A question involving a negative quadratic might have caused problems and a complex numbers question could have been difficult.

In the section on applications, he said one question helped students by telling them to use calculus to find the answer.

Ms Barnicoat said the ordinary level complex numbers and currency exchange rates questions would pose a challenge for some students. But, she said, they may have found the questions on algebra and on sequences and series more manageable.

Overall, she said, most students could have made a fair attempt at all questions.

TUI’s Clare Fannin said Friday morning’s higher level geography exam had plenty choice for students.

While the short questions were mostly good, she said the term ‘geo’ in a question on an aerial photograph may have been unfamiliar to many students. More problematic was difficulty students had reading a short-question map, but she expected that would be factored into the marking scheme.

Ms Fannin said there was a fair range of physical geography questions and well-prepared students should have been fine with some difficult parts.

In a regional geography section with a lot of options within questions, she thought a question asking about traffic issues from a sketch map a bit unusual but manageable.

ASTI geography spokesman Noel Curran thought the short questions were straightforward but the final parts of physical geography questions, asking about tectonics and isostacy, were quite difficult.

Students needed to apply what they had learned when asked about the influence of climate on regions, but students from cities could have used their observation skills in a question on urban problems. The ability to answer the paper inside the time allowed might have troubled some students, Mr Curran said.

Ms Fannin said the ordinary level exam’s short questions were very clear, and there was a very wide mix of long questions. She thought it was very fair and that most candidates should have been happy with the paper.

Mr Curran said good map-reading skills were needed on the short questions, and the use of graphs in a number of questions linked in well with the recently-new Project Maths syllabus. It may have been a surprise to see questions on two landforms in the physical geography question, but he said most of the issues on the paper were very standard.

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