Maths Paper 2 (H) 2019: Significantly more difficult than Paper 1

Reaction to Leaving Cert 2019 Maths Paper 2 (Higher Level) by Aidan Roantree, Senior Maths teacher at The Institute of Education.

This morning’s Higher Level Maths Paper 2 was significantly more difficult than Friday’s Paper 1.

Students would have been far less happy leaving this paper. Indeed, one of the only saving graces is that financial maths did not make an appearance here, unlike last year.

Most of the difficult parts occurred in Section A, and many students are likely to have scored better in Section B than in Section A.

Out of the 18 question parts in Section B, 4 to 5 were challenging. The others would have been familiar to most students. In Section A however, 6 of the 14 question parts were at the upper end on the scale of difficulty. Besides a very benign Question 2, each of the other questions in Section A had the potential to put off students.

Whereas it was too much to expect as straight-forward a paper as on Friday, there was a significant jump in standard going from Paper 1 to Paper 2.

Question 1: Nice question on basic probability and combinations. For the second year running counting techniques were examined in Paper 2.

Question 2: Straightforward question on co-ordinate geometry of the line.

Question 3: The second question was on co-ordinated geometry. This was a mixed question. The A part was easy and accessible, but the B part was very challenging.

Question 4: This trigonometry question was another with parts of widely different standards. The A part was an easy proof that should have taken no more than 3 lines. However the B part was a tricky 3-D problem. It was tricky not least because the first thing students had to do was design a strategy to approach the question.

Question 5: Again, the A part was easy but the B part was difficult in this geometry question. The A part was a standard construction, while the B part was a tricky ‘geometry cut’, based on parallelograms and equilateral triangles.

Question 6: The second probability question, this was much more difficult than Question 1. Both parts involved setting up tricky algebraic equations before solving them.

Question 7 (A): Finding the area of a base and the volume of a prism, whose base is a segment of a circle.

Question 7 (B): For the third year in a row a major question concerned areas and volumes. Part (i) was easy enough, but part (ii) would have required a lot of care.

Question 8: This question dealt with inferential statistics. The parts of the question ranged over confidence intervals, normal distributions and p values. Again, this final part was tricky enough, as students had to work backwards from a p value.

Question 9: This was the main trig question and contained many easy parts early on. Indeed only part E should have caused significant difficulty. This question probably saved many students.