Maths Paper 2 (O): A Very Fair Paper with Plenty of Opportunities

Reaction to Leaving Certificate 2023 Maths Paper 2 (Higher Level) by Jean Kelly, Maths teacher at The Institute of Education.

• A very fair paper with plenty of opportunities for all students to earn valuable marks, while those looking for the O1 will have a chance to distinguish themselves.
• Every expected topic appeared.
• Questions had lots of helpful clarifications to avoid confusion or needless barriers.

After what would likely be for many students an anxious weekend of revision, those sitting Ordinary Level Maths were welcomed back with a brilliant paper. In particular, the first 5 questions eased into the paper with a series of straightforward, methodical questions. Some might second-guess themselves, thinking there was some missed trick in the phrasing, but there was no abstract trap to be found. This was a general trend for the whole paper – the examiner was very good at clarifying what they wanted – either through clear directions or helpful explanations of potentially tricky terms. They really wanted to test your grasp of the concepts, not your reading comprehension.

That is not to say there weren’t a few surprises or twists thrown in. This was the Paper 2 debut of Simultaneous Equations of the Line and Circle, again showing that the exam-setters are blurring the demarcation between Papers 1 and 2. Parallelogram construction appeared after only turning up once previously in the last 25-30 years. But that shock was well managed by the paper, which offered guidance on how to approach the question. Question 7’s use of “gradient” likely caused some to worry but, as always, a pause, a breath and look at all that they gave you would reveal a very manageable question. If you followed their steps and kept your wits about you, things fell into place.

Students looking for marks will have loved Question 8, particularly parts A and B. Question 9 had the much-anticipated Inferential Statistics, which has appeared every year since 2015. This is clearly a staple for the modern exam and thankfully most students will have prepared accordingly. Question 10 was a great mix of Triangle Area and Volume and Probability which gave students an opportunity to really use their mathematical skills and connect all the dots – which is really what it is all about.

This was a fair paper with a healthy balance of easier and challenging questions. The questions’ phrasing was transparent enough to allow the prepared student to apply all their work with the burden of deciphering the examiner’s intent.