Maths Paper 2 (H) 2016: Question 2 (B) on co-ordinate geometry was among the most challenging in recent years


Comment/ analysis on Maths Paper 2 (HIGHER Level): Aidan Roantree, Senior Maths teacher at The Institute of Education.

As in 2015, this year’s Paper 2 was that bit harder than Paper 1. Surprisingly the difficulty lay mainly in Section A, rather than in the traditionally more daunting Section B.

In particular Question 2 (B) on co-ordinate geometry was among the most challenging in recent years.

Also, in Question 3 (A) the question referred to ‘cotan’, a concept most students would not be aware of, although it is defined on page 13 of the maths tables.

It is interesting to note the change in the number of questions and the amount of marks from probability & statistics to geometry, co-ordinate geometry & trigonometry. More marks went for trigonometry (125) than for probability and statistics combined (100).

On average, students will be reasonably happy with this paper.

By and large there was enough for students to obtain a pass mark. However, more so than on Paper 1, there were also question parts that would have allowed the very best students to show their abilities.

Section A:
Question 1 was a nice introductory question. A pleasant mix of co-ordinate geometry and geometry.
Question 2 (A) was a simple introduction. But Question B on co-ordinate geometry would have caused much anguish.
Question 3 (B) was a reasonably straight forward trig identity.
Question 4 was a novel geometry question involving constructions. Students were meant to use a result from similar triangles to help construct an arbitrary square root.
Question 5 was a manageable probability question, involving one practical and one abstract part.
Question 6 was another probability question based on expected value. After an easy part A, the B and the C parts of the question were quite challenging.

Section B:
Question 7 was a much anticipated trigonometric problem, involving three dimensions.
Question 8 was the second trig question, this time focusing on trig functions and trig graphs in the context of tide levels.
Question 9 was a reasonably straight forward question on inferential statistics, involving hypothesis testing, confidence intervals and sample size.