Mathematics Paper 1 (H): A Reassuring And Approachable Paper

Leaving Certificate Mathematics Paper 1 (H)

Reaction to 2024 Leaving Certificate Mathematics Paper 1 (Higher Level) by Brian Scully, Mathematics teacher at The Institute of Education.


  • A reassuring paper with a clear presentation of the questions and an emphasis on core skills. 
  • An interconnected approach to the curriculum rewarded students who were broad in their study, while still allowing students of all abilities to find opportunities for marks. 


Many students will have entered the exam hall anxious, a natural feeling only compounded by reactions to last year’s paper. However, upon opening the paper everyone should have been reassured: the opening questions were clear and familiar. They were accessible tests of mathematical skill unobscured by reading comprehensions. Questions followed trends from previous papers: graphs, areas and volumes, and the mingling of algebra and calculus will all have been welcomed by those who had been studious in their practice. Towards the latter parts of Question 3, which examined students’ understanding of a derivative, we started to see the material get more complex, prompting an agile approach to the concepts, but this was part of an extraordinarily fair exam that sought to represent a wide range of abilities. 

Naturally there were challenges on the paper that allowed those striving for the very top grades to distinguish themselves. Students who were mindful to cover all elements of the course will find that paying dividends as every question combined units.  There was nothing too stark and every question offered manageable introductions but someone taking an overly segmented approach to the material will find the later steps challenging. There were places where a student could trip up, but these were the exception rather than the rule.  



Some of the upper end questions would have caused students to pause momentarily, for example the graph in 8 (D) and the cap of a sphere in 9 (A) would look unfamiliar at first glance, the latter being rather niche. Yet the mathematical principles at play just beyond that first impression were manageable to those well attuned to the underlying principles. While these moments may have daunted some, they were outliers to be capitalized on by top students. 

Ultimately, students will find more than enough opportunities to apply their practice. With more than 50% of the paper emphasizing core skills, students should leave the exam hall feeling they had a fair chance to reflect their work to date.