This note is primarily about LC Project Maths but also contains details on the Old Syllabus

The Leaving Cert mocks are coming up very fast but don’t fret. There is a lot of time in between February and June to learn maths – but there will be no more chances to test your skills as an examinee. This short note will focus on five areas which you must address to get the maximum benefit from your mocks.

1. Syllabus

Assuming that your teacher in school is setting revision tasks for you by way of homework, the first thing you must do is have an overall picture in your head of what is on the syllabus and what is examinable.

Project Maths – very roughly:

Paper 1: Algebra, Complex Numbers, Induction, Sequences & Series, Compound Interest, Differentiation, Integration

Paper 2: Probability, Statistics, Trigonometry, The Line, The Circle, Synthetic Geometry

The full syllabus is to be found at:

http://ncca.ie/en/Curriculum_and_Assessment/Post-Primary_Education/Review_of_Mathematics/Project_Maths/LCM_str1-4_sep09_ex11.pdf

For those sitting the 2011 paper, the calculus elements of the course are examinable under the old syllabus (see section Functions and Calculus):

http://www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/lc_maths_sy.pdf?language=EN

I recommend that you print out the pages that contain the details (they are the pages in landscape in the first pdf). Go through each topic (in both ordinary and higher level), tick them as follows:

  1. \checkmark – I know this and I’m good at it
  2. X – I know this but I’m not good at it
  3. ? – I haven’t a clue what this is (unless you know that the material will be covered after the mocks; e.g. sometimes proofs are learnt off after the mocks)

If you were to do this before the actual LC I would have to recommend that you concentrate on the topics that come under 2.; however for the mocks I recommend that you look at the topics that come under 3. As much as possible you should have a full idea and awareness of the syllabus and answer questions on all topics there.

Old Course – Pretty much the same advice except your syllabus is to be found at:

http://www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/lc_maths_sy.pdf?language=EN

2. Layout

You must have a very good handle on the layout, there is no point wasting time in the exam figuring out what the  layout is – this is something you can do before the exam.

Project Maths –

Paper 1: Unfortunately I can only go by the sample paper:

http://www.examinations.ie/schools/Project_Maths_Phase_2_P1_Higher_Level.pdf

The best I can say is that Section A is on Algebra & Number – but this crosses a very large area of the course indeed (you should know this by looking at the syllabi). However all of Section A and Section B must be completed anyway so this is not too much of a problem:

Section A

Q.1-4       Algebra & Number    4×25 marks

Section B

Q. 5-6      Applied Problems (Numeracy)     2×50 marks

Section C – answer 2/3

Q. 7          Differentiation    50 marks

Q. 8          Differentiation    50 marks

Q. 9          Integration    50 marks

Paper 2: Luckily Paper 2 appears to be much more settled although the option in Q.9 seems to have vanished:

http://www.examinations.ie/schools/Project_Maths_Phase_2_P2_Higher_Level.pdf

Section A – answer all 6 questions

Q. 1          Probability    25 marks

Q. 2          Statistics    25 marks

Q. 3          The Line    25 marks

Q. 4          The Circle    25 marks

Q. 5          Trigonometry    25 marks

Q. 6          Geometry    25 marks

Section B – answer all 2 questions

Q.7      Probability and Statistics    75 marks

Q.8      Geometry and Trigonometry    75 marks

Old Course

Paper 1 – do 6/8

Q. 1-2      Algebra    2×50 marks

Q. 3      Matrices, Complex Numbers    50 marks

Q.4      Sequences & Series    50 marks

Q. 5      Induction, logarithms, indices, binomial expansion

Q. 6-7      Differentiation    2×50 marks

Q. 8      Integration     50 marks

Paper 2:

Section A – do 5/7

Q. 1      The Circle    50 marks

Q.2      Vectors    50 marks

Q.3      The Line    50 marks

Q.4-5      Trigonometry    2×50 marks

Q.6-7      Probability & Statistics, Discrete maths     2×50 marks

Section B – do 1/4 (most people just do Q.8; won’t detail Q.9-11)

Q. 8       Further Calculus    50 marks

3. Exam Technique – Timing

The basic idea in the mocks is to have a rough idea where you are in your subjects and practise your exam technique.

One thing you’ll have to do is get your timing right. If you know the layout, and know which order you want to do the questions, you will need no more than 5 minutes at the start to gather yourself and perhaps make a small decision if you are in two minds between two questions, etc.  I would recommend that you plan to do your favourite questions first and your least favourite last. This allows you to pick up precious minutes early and eases you into the exam.

Finally you need  to budget on at least 15 minutes for the end of the exam to go over your exam. If you had to skip a few questions on account of being stuck, the hope would be that you would now have more than 20 minutes left. Perhaps something else you did in the paper reminded you how to do the troublesome question and you can attempt this question now before you have less than 20 minutes left (i.e. leave 20 mins – going over what you did is going to be more beneficial than making a half-arsed stab at a question you mightn’t be able to do).

Hence, assuming you have 20 minutes left, go through each answer you gave, each time asking yourself:

HAVE I ANSWERED THE QUESTION THAT THE PAPER ASKED?

Often we decide for ourselves what question we are going to answer, get our answer, yet what we present is not what the examiner is looking for. If this happens, and you ask yourself have I answered the question that the paper asked, you are usually not that far away from answering the question properly.

Hence what you need to do is sort the questions that you can be asked from most favourite to least favourite, go in with a definite plan that this will be the order you do the questions, and this is how long each question should take. It is up to you in the exam to keep an eye on the time.

Examples of time allocations:

Project Maths –

Paper 1:

3 minutes to gather yourself

Q. 1-4 are 25 marks each, 11 minutes each

Q.5-9 are 50 marks each, 22 minutes each

15 minutes to read over paper

Paper 2:

3 minutes to gather yourself

Q. 1-6 are 25 marks each, 11 minutes each

Q.7-8 are 75 marks each, 33 minutes each

15 minutes to read over paper

Old Course. Papers 1 & 2 require six questions to be answered. This could allow (on both papers):

3 minutes to gather yourself

22 minutes on each question

15 minutes to read over paper

4. Mathematical Tables

Assuming you know how to use it; it is my belief that you are better off knowing that a formula is in the tables rather than knowing the formula itself. Please spend 25-30 minutes some evening looking through the tables. Become aware of the layout and know what formulae are in there. The tables are an unbelievable resource but you have to use them properly – this means not frantically looking through the economics section during your exam looking for some formula that mightn’t be in there. Know this little book inside-out (you don’t have to learn the formulae in the tables – you have to know what formulae are in the tables).

5. More Revision

If you want to do more revision than your teacher is setting, frankly the only game in town is doing exam papers. There is little point in learning off solutions. For Project Maths remember that a lot of the past papers are game – e.g. all of the material in the old Paper 1, Q. 6-8 is examinable. If you’re not sure consult your syllabi.

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