Maths Paper 1 (H) 2016: Slightly more challenging than last year

 

Comment/ analysis on Maths Paper 1 (HIGHER Level): Aidan Roantree, Senior Maths teacher at The Institute of Education.

This year’s Paper 1 is of a similar but slightly more challenging standard to last year. Overall it continues the trend of the last couple of years, where the papers have become more and more accessible to the large number of extra students doing higher level maths.

It also highlights the fact that most of the mock papers out there are totally out of kilter with the current standard of the real higher level maths examination papers.

Section A:

Section A would have been completely accessible to most students, with one proviso. In Question 5, the phrase ‘Pythagorean Triple’ might have confused some students, as it does not appear in the textbooks. It did however appear, along with its definition, on the 2014 examination paper.

Despite so many predictions to the contrary, financial maths was conspicuous by its absence. Financial maths is a major topic on the new syllabus, and its omission is unexpected. Its absence will have disappointed many students, who would have invested a lot of time and energy on it.

• Question 1 on complex numbers, was a standard mix of complex roots and De Moivre’s Theorem.
• Question 2 consisted of two straight forward parts on modulus and simultaneous equations.
• Question 3 was an anticipated question on the use of graphs to solve equations.
• Question 4 (A) was a standard proof by induction. Question 4 (B) examined the properties of logs.
• In Question 5 (A) the phrase ‘Pythagorean Triple’ might have confused some students, as it does not appear in the textbooks. It did however appear, along with its definition, on the 2014 examination paper.
• Question 5 (B) was an overdue question on the theory of functions.
• Question 6 was a straight forward question on differentiation from first principles and differentiation by rule.

Section B:
The questions in section B contained an interesting mix of algebra, calculus and sequences and series. Most question parts would have been found manageable by the majority of students, but there were a couple of interesting, challenging parts. For example, question 9 B, about the male bees and the ancestors of male bees.

• Question 7 was a relatively nice, short question on calculus, both differentiation and integration.
• Question 8 (A) dealt with the features of graphs and transformation of graphs, an area that has been under represented on previous papers.
• Question 8 (B) was a question on index equations, in the context of the Olympics heptathlon event.
• Question 9 (A) was on geometric series. Whereas students might have had difficulty with part 3 of the questions, the first two parts were quite straight forward.
• Question 9 (B) on male bees, while novel in appearance, was really about a recursion formula for a sequence.