The leaving cert is a challenging time for even the most academic students, higher-level maths is no exception and is perhaps even the most challenging of subjects offered to students over the two years.
Take a look at the leaving cert syllabus and get a sense of the topics which will likely feature on the higher level paper.
Passing higher level maths
The first thing that I recommend to students who have covered the higher-level maths material is to start preparing for the exam. This involves more than simply revising the material and making sure your pencil is sharpened for the big day.
It is equally important for students to start practising exam-style questions to avoid being thrown off on the day by seeing a question asked in a particular fashion for the first time. You will find that the way questions are asked on an exam paper is often much different from what you would be familiar with from your leaving cert textbooks.
The best way to do this is by working your way through past exam papers. Here you can practice the exact papers that higher-level students would have sat in previous years.
You can access these exam papers in a number of ways, whether you decide to buy the book and work your way through the ten years previous or alternatively you can access even more papers online right back to 2005 via examinations.ie https://www.theleavingcert.com/exam-papers/mathematics/
If you decide to opt for the hard copy of past higher-level maths exam papers, I recommend that you try not to answer the questions in the book. While this might seem like the more natural thing to do, having the answers in your book will not help when you go to practice the questions again.
As you will know with studying maths, quite a lot of the learning comes from practice and repetition. If you have the answers in front of you, while they will often jog your memory as to how to do the particular question, you won’t have this to rely on in the exam.
Having your exam papers blank will allow you to approach the question each time from the beginning just like in an exam situation. Some useful advice for higher-level maths students that are looking to pass the paper in June, is to practice attempting questions that they are either unfamiliar or uncertain about.
The Project Maths course can often pose a question in a rather cryptic way which encourages students to extract the information, think and problem solve. Looking for ways to start a maths problem and find ways to use the material that have spent the last two years covering is certainly a skill in its own right and needs developing in order to maximise your chances of passing the paper.
How important is time management?
Time management is another important component for students to consider in their preparations for the higher level leaving cert maths exam. There are certain techniques that students can adopt to ensure that they put themselves in the best position possible to pass the paper, and time management is one of them.
The first thing to consider is the timeframe which you are given for each paper. You are given just 2 and a half hours to complete each paper. While this might seem like a lot of time to complete an exam, this is something which you will have been working towards for the guts of 2 years.
Having just 2 and a half hours to convey to an examiner that you know enough to pass the paper, means being particular in how you spend your time in the exam hall. Students often spend months studying chapters and writing out theorems only to run out of time in the exam.
For this reason, I recommend students allocate sufficient time, particularly in the prior months to exam preparation. This entails familiarising yourself with the structure of the exam and what topics feature in particular sections, here are some tips for passing the exam.
Furthermore, I also recommend students time themselves completing exam questions. Surprisingly this is an area students struggle with quite a lot.
Each year countless students hand up their papers and exit the exam hall before the end of the examination period. Similarly, other students can be seen racing to get as much information down onto their answer sheets as possible before the papers are collected.
Unfortunately, many students fall short and hand up their answer booklets with sections unanswered which will therefore be omitted from the marking in their final grade. This is why I place such an emphasis on time management for students who are looking to achieve a passing grade in the higher level leaving cert maths exam.
Get to know the marking schemes
The most important bit of advice that I can give to students who are looking to pass higher level maths and get their extra 25 CAO points is to familiarise themselves with the marking schemes. It is important that students do not mistake this for getting to know the format of exam papers that we discussed earlier.
The marking scheme is the document which an examiner will have at their side when they are correcting your paper over the summer. I really can’t stress the importance of consulting past marking schemes in order to get a sense of what examiners are looking for in your answers.
A quick flick through a past paper’s marking scheme and you’ll quickly realise that you don’t in fact have to get a question entirely correct in order to be awarded marks for it. There are many effective resources that you can use in your preparations.
This is an important consideration for students when attempting any maths problem throughout the exam. Even in situations where you aren’t entirely sure of what process or equations you should use when attempting the question, you should write out the question and try to look for a possibility to progress your equation.
You would be shocked by the number of questions that go unanswered within paper 1 and paper 2 of the higher-level project maths papers. A lot of the time low partial and in some instances, mid or high partial credits are awarded to students for having some educated effort down on their answer sheets.
This can vary from anything as simple as having the correct equation for the problem written down on your answer booklet to having the answer incorrectly labelled or missing a decimal place.
It is important that students realise this when they are in the exam hall sitting their higher level maths papers so that they know not only to answer every question but where they can pick up marks in their attempts.
Achieving a low or mid partial credit in a question will go a long way towards achieving a passing grade in the higher level maths exam. You can bet that there will be marks that you can pick up on the day simply from pulling formulas out of your log tables.
What can I prepare in advance?
There are certain components of the material which feature on the higher level leaving cert maths paper each year. Therefore there are certain elements which students can learn off in advance and guarantee themselves some easy marks on the day.
There is a multitude of theorems that can appear on the paper that students must prove with the aid of a diagram, maths equations and theoretic proof. These are set within the project maths course and can be learned off in advance by students. This can provide a competitive advantage for students looking to pass the exam as every mark counts!
Find the right tutor to help you pass with Superprof
Now that you have some direction for preparing to pass the higher level leaving cert maths exam you may wish to supplement your learning with the help of a tutor. A tutor can be a valuable coach to aid you in your learning and tactics for the final exam.
Superprof is a community that comprises millions of tutors around the world. There is certainly no shortage of maths tutors available to Irish students who wish to maximise their grades in the subject.
Having the option to select your preferred tutor after availing of a free trial session allows students to select a tutor which works best with their preferred style of learning. The service provides students with a degree of flexibility in how they learn. Students are given the opportunity to learn through both ‘in person’ and ‘remote’ options, either in the home of the student or tutor or via webcam.
Through Superprof a student can select their tutor to best suit their particular needs, allowing them to better target their weaknesses across the higher level maths syllabus.
The hourly rate of tutoring varies from about €8 right up to €30, with some tutors offering a reduced rate for a higher quantity of sessions. Many tutors offer their first lesson for free, giving leaving cert students the opportunity to try out the service before making any commitments.
Having an additional mentor to work through leaving cert maths solutions will help students to excel across the extensive range of topics that we discussed in the leaving cert course and more importantly show you how to study maths and achieve your potential in your higher-level maths test.
The platform that connects tutors and students