Maths is one of those subjects people either love or hate.

A lot of the time those who love it are 'numbers people' they tend to also be interested in subjects like accounting, physics and even more manual subjects that rely heavily math on during the construction/creation process, subjects like Homeconomics and Technical Graphics.

However, even if you're not a 'numbers person' there are plenty of reasons why studying maths at Leaving Cert Level is important, some of which we will explore in this article. We will also take a look at the breakdown of the Leaving Cert maths exam across all levels:

  1. Foundation Level
  2. Ordinary Level
  3. Higher Level

Let's get started.

"Every culture has contributed to maths just as it has contributed to literature. It's a universal language; numbers belong to everyone.'

Daniel Tammet

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Leaving cert maths can really help when studying other leaving cert subjects - Image by marijana1 from Pixabay
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Exemptions

There is no complete exemption for Leaving Cert Maths, no exemptions mean that students can opt-out of Maths at Leaving Cert level. This is down to the fact that Maths, is an essential entry requirement for almost all courses in third-level colleges and colleges of further education.

However, there are options available to everyone studying maths, there are 3 main exam levels, Higher Lever, Ordinary Level and Foundation, so no matter what your math abilities you will find a course which will help you achieve your best possible Leaving Cert results.

The Foundation Level Leaving Cert Maths Exam

The Foundation Level Leaving Cert Maths exam consists of two sections, Section A and Section B.

Typically, the first part of the Foundation Level exam, section A, is worth a total of 200 marks. The marks are awarded over 8 questions, all of which must be answered. The second part of the Foundation Level exam, section B, is worth 100 marks which are divided into 2 questions.

Candidates are required to answer all of the questions in both Section A and Section B.

However, in 2021 the exam changed a little, this is largely down to the fact that in 2020 there was no leaving cert exams held into 2020 because of the Covid-19  global pandemic, instead students were given predicted grades. In 2021, students were given the choice between predicted grades or taking an exam. For those who chose to do the exam, it was changed slightly so the students were required to answer fewer questions.

The exam changes were as follows:

  • In 2021, Section A will contain eight questions, as usual. However, the marks per question in section A will increase to 30 marks, and candidates will be required to answer any six of the questions. There will be three questions at 50marks each in section B, and candidates will be required to answer any one of them.
  • The total mark allocation for the examination paper in 2021 will be 230 marks, instead of the usual
    300 marks.
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Leaving Cert Maths is a life skill you will use time and time again - Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay
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The Ordinary Level Leaving Cert Maths Exam

The Ordinary Leval maths exam for the Leaving Cert is actually split into 2 papers, meaning unlike the Foundation Level exam, you will need to sit 2 separate exams.

Paper 1 - The first paper for the Ordinary exam is broken down as follows:

There are two sections in this examination paper.

  • Section A Concepts and Skills (6 questions worth 150 marks)
  • Section B Contexts and Applications (150 marks over 3 questions)

Candidates must answer all nine questions. Paper 2 is broken down in the same way as Paper 1.

However, just like Foundation Level, in 2021 the exam changed, again, this was down to the fact that in 2020 there were no Leaving Cert exams held because of the Covid-19  global pandemic, and students were given predicted grades.

So, in 2021, students were given the choice between predicted grades or taking an exam. For those who chose to do the exam, it was changed slightly so the students were required to answer fewer questions.

For both Paper 1 and Paper 2 the following changes were made:

  • Section A will contain six questions, as usual. However, the marks per question in Section A will increase to 30 marks, and candidates will be required to answer any four of the questions.
  • There will be four questions at 50 marks each in Section B, and candidates will be required to answer any two of them.

The total mark allocation for each examination paper will be 220 marks, instead of the usual 300 marks.

Higher level maths
Although the layout for the Ordinary and Higher Level Leaving Cert exams is the same, the difficulty levels are completely different - Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

The Higher Level Leaving Cert Maths Exam

As far as exam structure goes, Ordinary Level and Higher Level are laid out the same. The Higher Level maths exam for the Leaving Cert is also split into 2 papers.

Paper 1 - The first paper for the Higher Level exam is broken down as follows:

There are two sections in this examination paper.

  • Section A Concepts and Skills (6 questions worth 150 marks)
  • Section B Contexts and Applications (150 marks over 3 questions)

Candidates must answer all questions. Just like the Ordinary Level structure, Paper 2 is broken down in the same way as Paper 1.

In 2021 the Higher Level exam changed, in the same way, the Ordinary exam was changed.

Students were given the choice between predicted grades or taking an exam. For those who chose to do the exam, it was changed slightly so the students were required to answer fewer questions.

For both Paper 1 and Paper 2 the following changes were made:

  • Section A will contain six questions, as usual. However, the marks per question in Section A will increase to 30 marks, and candidates will be required to answer any four of the questions.
  • There will be four questions at 50 marks each in Section B, and candidates will be required to answer any two of them.

The total mark allocation for each examination paper will be 220 marks, instead of the usual 300 marks.

Leaving Cert Maths Tips and Guidance

you can do math
As mentioned at the start of this article, some people are 'numbers people' and absolutely loves, however even if you're not a maths person you can still do maths, you may just need to approach the subject from a less advanced level - Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Even though all the exam levels are different when it comes to how difficult/advanced the questions are, they all look for a certain standard of the same information. No matter what level of maths you take for the Leaving Cert, the exam will look for you to correctly demonstrate the following:

  • Application of math
  • Math context
  • Math concepts
  • Math skills

"There's barely any aspect of our modern lives that hasn't had a mathematical contribution at some point and yet, if you asked the average person, they might think that maths is just difficult, irrelevant and uninteresting."

Hannah Fry

What is meant by the Application of Math, is real-life questions. The exam will involve some questions that will be drawn from real life, and you will have to find a mathematical solution.

Practical (real-life) math is the reason everyone needs to study maths for their Leaving Cert. Whether is knowing how to calculate on the spot, preparing a personal budget or even figuring out how many more kilometres until your car's next services, maths is a life skill, even if you don't love it, at some point you will be so glad you studied it.

For more about Maths at Leaving Cert Level, visit the pages below:

 

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Maureen

Hey, I'm Maur/Mo, I'm a writer from Ireland. I've written a novel and a lot of poetry and fiction. Currently, I work as a content writer at superprof