Leaving Certificate Exam Review Maths(O) Papers 1 & 2

Maths Ordinary Level

Review by Tomás Keane

Paper 1 – A fair, straightforward paper, with accessible language and no unexpected twists.

Students from Yeats College were pleasantly surprised with Paper 1. They were happy with the concepts that appeared and they felt prepared for the paper. Thankfully, none of the questions were exceptionally challenging for the students. In fact, the trickier elements of the paper were still manageable because the language used provided clues for the students. This would have helped the weaker student realise the question being asked.

Algebra, functions, graphs and financial maths were heavily featured on the paper. Section B shared a lot of similarities with last year’s paper. Q7 on functions and differentiation was remarkably similar. Rearranging formulae also appeared on both papers, along with the arithmetic sequences formulae. The unusual part of this paper was that the second derivative was asked for the first time. Students would have been prepared for this since the method is the same as the first derivative. Secondly, students were asked to measure the dimensions for the trapezoidal rule, before they had to substitute these values into the formula. It is important to note that this is highly unlikely to appear on the Area & Volume questions for Paper 2. Finally, time wasn’t a major issue for students. Students had amble time to answers the questions and check their work. Overall, students should be pleased with Paper 1 and should now focus their attention on Paper 2 (Paper 2 concepts include statistics, probability, area & volume, the line, the circle, trigonometry, geometry, constructions and enlargements).

Paper 2 – Longer and more challenging that Paper 1, but manageable overall.

The main opinion from students about Paper 2 was that it was harder than Paper 1. I would have had the same sentiments about last year’s paper too. Paper 2 requires more problem-solving skills from students since the questions often include a real world problem that they have to decipher.

The majority of Section A came up in previous years. The questions on The Line, The Circle and Probabilty should be well answered by most students. The main challenge occurred in Q5(b) where the question involved the speed at which water flows through a pipe, a question that had never appeared before. The Geometry and Area questions of Q6 could have also challenged students because the questions required knowledge of trigonometry and the circle theorems.

Students would have needed a lot of time to answer Section B. The questions this year were drawn out more. However, this could be a good thing because it allows students to showcase their understanding of the course. All predicted topics came up, namely a question involving trigonometry, hypothesis testing and area & volume. In the statistics question, students were told to use their calculators in order to find the standard deviation. This was unfair for students that had practiced the formula from their maths tables. Secondly, there wasn’t space for doing the formula method. The question involving a sphere submerged in water was also difficult for students because it never came up before. The trigonometry question was well designed, prompting students in the right direction by giving concise instructions and diagrams. Despite the length of the paper, students would have a strong knowledge of the paper and hopefully this in reflected in their grades in August. Finally, a big well done to all candidates that sat Ordinary Level  Maths this year.