"Mathematics as an expression of the human mind reflects the active will, the contemplative reason, and the desire for aesthetic perfection. Its basic elements are logic and intuition, analysis and construction, generality and individuality." -Richard Courant

Whether you think they are beautiful or not, mathematics is so abstract and infinite yet logical and structured that they have fascinated mathematicians for centuries. The feeling of completing a maths problem and finding the answer to something that was previously unsolved is hugely satisfying to those who work tirelessly in maths.

Also, it is worth stating that while maths have existed since the beginning of time, the concepts of mathematics have slowly been uncovered and taught to students of all ages during primary and secondary school. So, in all honesty, though the process of studying maths can be a bit dry at times, we owe an outstanding debt to the mathematicians who wanted to understand the universe better.

Having an appreciation of maths helps secondary-school learners take the academic discipline more seriously since they realise that mathematics is used in many aspects of life. 

So, without further ado, we shall look at how Irish pupils can study for the leaving certs maths exam to get brilliant results and move onto post-secondary studies.

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Understanding the Grading System of the Leaving Certificate in Ireland

leaving cert diploma
Knowing the grading system of the leaving cert exams beforehand helps secondary school students envision graduating with honours that catapult them to future career success. (Source: Unsplash)

If you've lived in Ireland your entire life and have become used to hearing about the leaving cert during all your formative years, it is improbable that you have stopped to think about its format and how exams are graded; if that's your situation, there is no need to worry since most individuals in countries around the world don't exactly know how exams are marked.

Nonetheless, it is essential to state that knowing the grading system and how teachers/examiners assess course material and final exams is a great advantage. How's that? It helps students aim for the highest and do all that they can to avoid getting a fail.

Therefore, it's worth mentioning that as of 2021, every leaving cert subject is examined at one of three levels. The three levels are the following:

  • Higher, 
  • Ordinary, 
  • Foundation. 

The foundation level is the most basic level, and only two subjects may be taken at this stage: Irish and maths. All other leaving cert topics must be completed at a higher or ordinary level.

Those who want to embark on the more challenging subject matter to become eligible for admission at prestigious further education centres usually spend their high school life studying higher-level courses. Whereas, on the other hand, those who want to keep their options open and haven't decided between entering the workforce straight out of secondary school or going to university usually study ordinary-level classes.

Additionally, the marking system also has three sections that help examiners determine the student's level and whether they have passed or failed. The three ways to determine a grade include: the percentage, the grade, and the points awarded.

For instance, the highest possible grade for leaving cert exams is an H1 grade, between a 90-100% on exams, and 100 points are awarded. The grade and the percentage are for teachers and examiners, whereas the points rewarded are usually used for admission to universities and colleges.

Check out this link to learn more about the different grades of the leaving cert that were slightly modified in 2017.

As for mathematics, it is one of the few mandatory subjects studied for the leaving cert. Those who study higher maths are awarded bonus points on their assessments since the material is quite complex. For instance, 25 bonus points are awarded for higher-level maths for H6 grades and above to help students move up the marking system.

Now that we've analysed the marking system and how examiners assess the leaving cert examinations let's examine how students can triumphantly study for their cert maths assessment.

Techniques: How to Successfully Prepare and Study the Leaving Cert Maths Assessment

In many situations, studying is a mind-numbing experience that bores even the most intellectually gifted individuals at times; however, if you know how to research and are given some techniques, it is much more manageable to prepare and review for upcoming exams.

So, we shall analyse five techniques that will significantly help secondary school level pupils study for leaving cert maths assessments.

maths equations and problems
Taking the time to go through maths problems you previously didn't understand regularly will help you prepare. (Source: Unsplash)

Practice Past Leaving Cert Questions and Problems

By dedicating time during study sessions to look back at past cert questions and problems, you are successfully preparing yourself for the type of questions that will appear on the exam. It would be best to focus your attention on finding past maths questions relating to your struggles.

Also, when practising past leaving cert questions, it would be wise to do so without the help of your class notes so that it feels like an actual examination. 

Remember that when you find past leaving cert exam questions, there will usually be a few of them together on the same document since it was an exam. Therefore, if you don't know how to solve the first few questions, move on to the following maths problem until you find one that you understand because if you stay stuck on the first one, you will get discouraged and want to give up.

The saying "practice makes perfect" couldn't be more true. 

Time yourself and complete the past practice leaving cert maths questions in a quiet room without any disturbances; make it feel like an exam!

Dedicate Time Studying on Important Maths Topics

By asking teachers/examiners or simply taking a look at past leaving cert maths examinations from previous years, you will get a pretty good idea of which topics of maths will be prioritised on your upcoming test.

Nonetheless, no matter the year, 17-19-year-olds taking the leaving cert maths exam in Ireland will have questions that relate to the following:

  • Algebra, 
  • Calculus, 
  • Trigonometry,
  • Probability. 

Many Irish students recognise the previously mentioned mathematics topics as the four most important. Therefore, during study sessions, it would be wise to dedicate time to algebra, calculus, trigonometry, and probability maths questions;  Prioritising your time to be ready to answer these types of questions sets you up for success.

Review Course Notes

During maths class, you should take a lot of notes when the teacher is speaking or showing maths problems on the board since they can be reviewed later. Although you might not understand all of the lesson notes you have taken, you give yourself the necessary time to assimilate the information by checking them.

Also, another added benefit of reviewing class notes during study sessions is that if you don't understand a mathematical concept, you can highlight it and show it to your teacher or tutor when asking for assistance. Your maths instructor might even let you know if the problem or maths topic in question will appear on your leaving cert exam.

using calculations
Having a scientific calculator and understanding its functions is very important for upcoming exams since they can save your life. (Source: Unsplash)

Take the Time to Get to Know Your Calculator

To study higher or ordinary-level leaving cert maths, you've most likely bought a scientific calculator for your two-year preparation before the final mathematics exam. Nonetheless, buying an advanced-level calculator and knowing how to use it are two very separate things.

So, dedicate time to getting to know the functions of the most outstanding maths tool you know: the calculator. Many scientific calculators come with a short manual of instructions; take a look at them and don't just throw them away because that could be the difference between an H2 and an H1.

Some maths teachers show their students some of the functions of their scientific calculator; however, if that isn't the case, don't wait around for miracles to happen; take the initiative by using your calculator during study sessions and watching YouTube tutorials to get pointers.

Take Advantage of Online Resources

Since maths is an essential academic discipline encompassed in the leaving cert, practically every person in Ireland has undergone the maths examination at a higher, ordinary, or foundation level. Therefore, various online resources touch on maths topics that are relevant to the leaving cert examination.

Some resources may include helpful blogposts, interactive apps that feature maths games on topics such as trigonometry or algebra, or practice exams that may be completed virtually.

Whichever online resources you can find that specialises in advanced maths, you should take advantage of since it makes study sessions more entertaining and less tedious. If worthwhile, you might want to share the online maths resources you've found with your fellow leaving cert classmates.

In conclusion, we hope that all of the advice about studying for the leaving cert maths examination will prove helpful during preparation!

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