Mathematics Paper 1 (O): An Accessible Paper That Was Rich In Opportunities For Marks

Leaving Certificate Mathematics Paper 1 (O)

Reaction to 2024 Leaving Certificate Mathematics Paper 1 (Ordinary Level) by Jean Kelly, Mathematics teacher at The Institute of Education.


  • A paper rich in opportunities for students to earn marks that will have students feeling assured heading into Paper 2.
  • Anxious students were given the chance to get their footing in the exam and fairly show the scope of their mathematical knowledge. 


This paper will have pleased many students. The usual suspects appeared in the usual ways, so there were no big shocks in a subject that often makes students worried. The paper was heavy on algebra and arithmetic (ratios, percentages, cross method etc.) and very light on calculus: a combination that many will be very pleased with. 

One of the best things about the paper was how the exam setter made it absolutely clear what the student was expected to do by offering useful clarifications or, in some cases, overt hints. This meant that nothing was hidden behind awkward phrasing, so students could just get stuck into the maths straight away. This was particularly good for students who know how to work through the problem but are anxious about where to start to get it rolling. This paper really helped those students find their footing and display their ability.  

For the paper to be really fair, there needs to be some challenges in the mix. Q5 (C) asked about the “rate of change” on a graph, and while the task wasn’t too tricky students did need to grasp the underlying concept. Additionally, the Trapezoidal Rule which is often thought of as Paper 2 material appeared in what might be a surprise to some. It did appear on last year’s Paper 1 and so this might be the first sign of a new pattern appearing. These tougher moments were the minority on the paper and only would impact on who get the very top marks. 

Previous years’ papers often had some trickier moments that would have caused students to get stuck and worry, sending them into Paper 2 desperate for every mark. This year, students of all abilities should go into the weekend relieved that their practice and study will have paid off.