Junior Cycle maths: Mixed reaction to ‘wordy’ higher level paper

‘Many questions contained multiple sentences and contexts surrounding them, with few just “straight up” maths questions’

Leaving cert, junior cert exam

Higher level students faced a wordy exam and are being negatively impacted by a lack of choice on the paper, teachers have said.

Stephen Begley, Studyclix.ie subject expert and a maths teacher at Dundalk Grammar School, said that the paper had drawn a mixed reaction from students.

“The exam was accessible and diverse, though far too wordy,” Mr Begley said.

“Many questions contained multiple sentences and contexts surrounding them, with very few just ‘straight up’ maths questions. This would have surely swayed a few students in trying to unpack what was being asked of them.”


Niall Duddy, ASTI subject representative and a teacher at Presentation College, Athenry, said that there is no marking scheme on the paper, although students are advised how much time to spend on each question.

“My students seemed happy enough, but there were a few stings in the tail,” he said.

“There was a question on the universal social charge and, in keeping with the general public view on it, it was not very popular. Part B had some tricky parts and, if they couldn’t answer it, they wouldn’t have been able to answer part B,” Mr Duddy said.

With students having no choices on the paper, Mr Begley also felt that it contained too many questions.

“The examiner pushed to squeeze in almost every topic on the course, with co-ordinate geometry, trigonometry, algebra, statistics, probability, geometry, financial maths, sets and number systems being examined,” he said.

The questions on statistics, trigonometry, co-ordinate geometry and algebra will have surely delighted students, while geometry, financial maths and functions pushed students to really think.

Mr Duddy said that the ordinary level paper appeared to be straightforward and accessible, while Mr Begley said that, overall, it was quite nice.

“Questions were presented in a well-guided and encouraging manner and spanned much of the course,” Mr Begley said.

“The paper featured topics such as number systems, area & volume, probability, functions, trigonometry, co-ordinate geometry and algebra. It was a very fair paper overall, but indeed pushed students to really think in parts.

Notably, number patterns, distance speed and time did not appear on the paper. All in all, students would have been happy with the fair, diverse and direct questions on the paper.”