What does it take to get a H1 in Higher Level Maths?
Tadhg Collins & Saoirse Sheehy, past students from The Institute of Education who achieved a H1 in their Leaving Cert higher level maths exam, explain how they got top marks.
Practicing questions is paramount and indeed the only way to study maths. Try to do as many questions as possible, the more difficult the better. I also think it’s a good idea to take note of the most difficult questions you come across and treat them as ‘benchmark’ questions. This is a good way to identify any weaknesses you may have and work on them.
Work hard & smart!
Working both hard and smart is essential in order to achieve a H1. When you reach the end of a question think logically and ask yourself if your answer is reasonable. You may even cross check it by subbing your answer into an equation or using an alternative method to get the same answer.
Read the paper fully before starting
In the exam, read through the paper fully before starting. A lot of questions are ‘scaffolded’, meaning that one part leads to the next with incremental difficulty, so reading ahead gives you an idea of what they’re looking for at the start.
Also, spend a minute or two on the questions you think are most difficult at the beginning of the exam. Simply reading through them a few times means they will be in the back of your mind and you will more than likely have a better grip on them when you attempt them later.
Know your theorems, constructions & definitions
Finally, know all your theorems, constructions and definitions. There is no choice on the paper so it is definitely worth your while to learn these.
Get the ground work done!
I worked hard in 5th year making sure I understood the ideas and basic principles when first taught. This made revising much simpler. Having the ground work done was immensely useful. It took a lot of the pressure off. It is a good deal easier reminding yourself how to do a question than having to re-teach it to yourself.
Test yourself regularly!
Being dyslexic means that I don’t find last minute cramming very effective. Regular testing is key. I used to get very stressed around tests and found them scary. But with constant quizzes I learned not to be. If your teacher doesn’t have the time to test you, then I would recommend testing yourself on topics that you have just covered. Make this feel real by studying before testing, doing it in a quiet environment, timing yourself and not allowing yourself to look at your notes.
Get help from your friends
I got help from friends at different times during the year. We all found it helpful. You get a much better understanding of the material when you go through the process of teaching it to someone and I was able to get one on one tuition with a peer.
Timing is key
Time management is important in all tests but particularly in maths. You don’t want to find out in August that you spent 15 minutes on a question no one could answer so it was subsequently marked down to only 3 marks in the marking scheme.
Reaction to 2023 Maths Exam Paper 2
Each year, our exceptional teachers give their take on the Leaving Certificate Higher Level exam papers.
See what Louise Boylan, maths teacher at The Institute of Education, had to say about the 2023 Higher Level Paper 2 in this short video.
To view reactions to previous year’s maths exam papers check out the videos below or visit our YouTube channel.
“Expect the unexpected!”
As the 2018 higher level maths exam showed, the idea that certain topics belong exclusively to one paper no longer strictly applies. There is now more crossover of topics and combination of ideas across both papers.
In this video Aidan Roantree, senior maths teacher at The Institute of Education, shares some valuable advice for students preparing to sit the exam next June.
Need a refresher on Financial Maths?
Aidan Roantree steps through some sample higher level questions and answers in these three online tutorials below.