Craig – Ordinary Level Paper 1Craig McHugh

That was the easiest maths exam I have sat since the Drumcondra test in 5th class. Anyone who was looking to just get by in the Maths paper was treated to an array of opportunities to demonstrate their worth above foundation level. Similar to my sympathies for those that banked on Yeats for English; anyone who dropped to foundation today- I am sorry, you missed out, there’s no dancing around it; that was a lovely paper.

On an initial skim through the pages, I found myself quite calm – not sure if that was the dangerous levels of herbal remedy my mother has doused every thing in the house with ; but all the more it was brilliant to not get that horrible feeling I got in the mocks whereby I felt I couldn’t do any full questions.

Our paper opened on very basic financial maths and slowly evolved into a test for independent thinking , rather than just pure knowledge of the course.

The final two questions were incredibly similar , and the financial maths section was very well spread out across the exam. Calculus was also impeccably easier than previous years, along with the section on basic algebra and complex numbers.

My only fear is Paper 2 now which is normally a paper I find a lot tricker. Still, in spite of this I think I have the marks from my first paper to comfortably land me an honour and meet my entry requirements. Fingers crossed – now into a lovely weekend of cramming!


Ellen – Higher Level Paper 1 DSC04117 (1)

I was just wrecked after English P2 yesterday so my preparation for this exam consisted of watching Total Wipeout, having a nap and a few bowls of chowder. On top of that I was sick this morning and could barely move, so it’s safe to say I was not looking forward to this exam… Stuffed to the brim with neurofen and tea, I took my place in the exam centre dreading the next few hours.

I’m not going to say I was pleasantly surprised because there was nothing pleasant about it. Everything seemed to be algebra and logs – my two least favourite topics – and there was no financial maths in sight. Although, the proof by induction was rather lovely, as was the log question with all the p’s and q’s. I really really do not like algebra so you can imagine my horror when I saw the first two long questions, anyway, I soldiered through, even finding the parabola for basketball. (Although I admit I had no idea how to find the angle with the horizontal, something with tan maybe?)

The sequences and series question was kinda quirky and I got the table but not the answer. That last question about the bees seemed a bit out of place and was way more difficult than it looked. I answered everything, with just enough time to look over at the end which has never happened to me before. Paper 1 is supposed to be my strongest so I’ll probably spend the whole weekend focusing on Paper 2. Hopefully it’s worth it for those 25 extra points!

Cárthach – Higher Level Paper 1 DSC04123 (1)

I opened the paper and stared blankly at the first page for 5 minutes, not knowing what exactly to do. I was 100% sure I would fail, friends will laugh saying this isn’t true, but I genuinely skimmed through the paper, pretending to see things that weren’t possible to do. However, I made myself write something in the tiny first box, and suddenly a flow begin to come. No, I didn’t manage the first two pages well at all, but what followed seemed to suit me. Plenty of calculus, trigonometry and logs as well as co-ordinate geometry almost made the paper feel like paper 2, which I prefer!

I was worried previously about financial maths and none came up!!

It wasn’t perfect, but it was much better than I had thought it would be, reading over the English version of the paper now. I may have actually passed, no time to celebrate, paper 2 is dawning on me!


Liam – Higher Level Paper 1 DSC04124 (1)

Maths you done done us good! I must say, this paper was immaculate! I didn’t know what it was going to be like because they could pop an awkward question and that would put you completely off but in fairness, I liked it.

Question 1 was a complex numbers question and it was fairly good, there was no weird DeMoivre proof or anything like that so it was fairly straightforward. 2 was just basic algebra, the second part really got my goat during the whole thing. I kept finding myself going back to it, but towards the end I found the errors of my ways, I forgot to square the 2 under the line! But sure be grand.

Question 3 was exponential graphing and it was again, fairly straightforward. 4 was proof by induction and if it weren’t for a video I watched online last night, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it, then the log questions afterwards. I like logs and logs like me, well at least I think they do after those questions.

5 was kind of triggy ( sorry, I had to! ). The first part was Pythagoras theorem, with algebra combined! And then the next part was the SEC just making up some new definition, safe to say that that box was filled with last minute scribbling. Part b was grand too, just a bit of functions. Because that and the part a are related…?

6 was calculus. Good ‘ol calculus, and in fairness, it was grand if you took your time with it. Differentiation by first principles was simple and the next part was one of those product and chain rule hybrids, just do it slow and keep it clear and you’d get it!!

Then we got more calculus in question 7 where you manipulated the surface area and volume equations of a sphere to find rates of change. It was grand, once you understood the whole situation.  Part b, is where they kicked the ball. Would’ve been better kicking it all off the paper being honest, but sure it was grand.

8 was all about Sarah and her basketball and instead of doing an essay in English about the olympics, we got a maths question. 9 was grand too, just about if sequence and series, and with a bit of last minute thinking , that was that !

All in all , maths this year was really the story of a bad joke. They pumped up a ball (7) for Sarah to play in the Olympics (8) and along comes a bee (9).

Paper 2, please have a heart!!

Emma – Ordinary Level Paper 1 Emma O'Callaghan

Just out of maths paper one and lovely is an understatement. I don’t know if it’s because last years paper was so difficult but ordinary level paper one went fabulously!! It started with a basic money question, and had little differentiation which I was delighted to see. There were some parts, like everything that took a little time and thinking but it wouldn’t be maths without that I suppose. Question eight like many people caught me but I’m banking on attempt marks for that one!!

The reaction to the paper seems pretty positive!! Hopefully paper two will be just as lovely!!



Conor – Higher Level Paper 1Conor O'Hare

When I open the paper, I carefully analyse each question, labeling the top, as to which topic on the syllabus they apply to.

Complex numbers…



So when I arrive at question 8, I let out a great sigh, mentally saying “of course they “delight” us in having the financial maths question last.  I turn over the page and… oh my sweet Jesus of Nazerteth, it’s sequences and series. Mixed feelings are roaming through my head at this moment. On the one hand, life has given me the wonderful gift of hope. On the other: hold on – I just spent countless hours attempting to comprehend as to what even a ‘financial maths’ is, and how does one use ‘financial maths’. That being said, the only course of action was to proceed with the paper. And thus, I did.

Overlooking the internet now, I am seeing quite mixed remarks about the paper. There are people similar to one half of my brain, saying “Whoever wrote that exam, leaving out financial maths, I’m buying him a pint”. Others, furious over the absence of financial maths; but overall, an overwhelming delight. Twitter has deemed it to have been “piss easy”, and that it was a “looovvveelllyyyy paper”.

To those people that are complaining about a lack of financial maths, and are looking back over the hours spent on learning it, ask yourselves: did you really want it to crop up. Imagine, if you will, how the exam would have panned out:

Let’s see… let’s see… Ah, here it is. Financial maths. I have done so much work for you, and now I can- wait. I still don’t know how to do this. I WANT ALGEBRA! [sobbing] So, do not focus on what did not come up. That is futile.  Focus on what did, and, if you are like the majority of students, you would have considered those questions “leeeeeeeeethaaaaaallll”.

Personally speaking, I found it to be a just paper. It was not a walk in the park, and there were parts that you had to seriously contemplate – as it should be, seeing as that is the nature of mathematics. But it was approachable in every aspect. I can assume that most could have filled in each box with one line at least. In Project Maths, that typically means half of the marks. Oh, biased marking scheme – our saviour.

To those that are sitting behind the screen in a state of melancholy over what they believed to be an incredibly tough exam, do not fret. As I have said, attempt marks are there to boost people up. I remember doing a question on one of the papers – it was a 50 mark question – and the very first part, a part that was essentially asking you to sub in values into an equation, gave you almost half of the total marks for the question. Marking schemes favour those that have done poorly. Besides, it is only half of the paper. So to those that found it “piss” – you’ve only climbed over the first obstacle.

All in all, however, it has, at least from what I’ve seen, been a great start to the Leaving Certificate Examinations. It has provided many students with the confidence to face each paper now with a will to do well, as they have done in the past. Take a break sometime this weekend – then prepare for another battle. But the battles are thankfully coming to a close before you know it.

Please note: blog posts reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union. Blogs are updated daily by 6.30 pm on scheduled examination dates.

Zeminar is an event for Generation Z, particularly those aged between 15 and 19, and their parents, teachers, mentors and coaches. It will take place from 11th – 13th of October 2016. For more information see

Zeminar cover image