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# ** LC Applied Maths 2014 - Before and after discussion **

• Any answers for 10, 8 or 6?

• Any answers for 10, 8 or 6?

For Q6
(a) (i) 320pi^2
(ii) 47.374
(b) (i) 8.81d
(ii) 14.2m

I messed Q8 up pretty bad and got some crazy answer for k

• I thought applied Maths was far easier than the mocks

But this could be one of those "oh it was such a nice paper" and then you do badly moments. :pac:

• DoodleMe wrote: »
For Q6
(a) (i) 320pi^2
(ii) 47.374
(b) (i) 8.81d
(ii) 14.2m

I messed Q8 up pretty bad and got some crazy answer for k

Something similar for me, I think, on both counts of 6 and 8 :P

• Yup, I think so. What did you get for k? I got 15

Ya I got 15. The periodic time was so simple, it was great
I couldn't get q10(b) ii, so I had 10 mins left at the end so I said I'd try and cram in q8, and it was prob like my best q other than q3

• mcratsix wrote: »
Ya I got 15. The periodic time was so simple, it was great
I couldn't get q10(b) ii, so I had 10 mins left at the end so I said I'd try and cram in q8, and it was prob like my best q other than q3

Excellent, another bit of good news, which seems limited these days... If I can ask, for Q4, what did you get?

• Excellent, another bit of good news, which seems limited these days... If I can ask, for Q4, what did you get?

For part A, I said that the acceleration of the free weight was twice the acceleration of the particle on the table, and the tension in the string connected to B was equal to the two tensions in the other strings added together. Can't actually remember what my answers were, I left them in surd from coz they weren't nice round numbers. Think the tension worked out around 270N though.
Part B: again, I forget my answer for part i, but I said it moved 66cm for part 2

• Re Q1 A i) I got 24-.5T^2 too but it now looks like I made a slip and the answer is 24-4.5t^2...

Distance = Sp - Sq + 24

S = UT + .5AT^2

Up and Uq = 15m/s
Ap = -4 m/s^2
Aq = -5 m/s^2

= 15T - 2T^2 - 15T - 2.5T^2 + 24

= 24 -4.5T^2

Got 18.375 for the second part.

Am I wrong?

Best of luck to everybody...

• KevStar wrote: »
Re Q1 A i) I got 24-.5T^2 too but it now looks like I made a slip and the answer is 24-4.5t^2...

Distance = Sp - Sq + 24

S = UT + .5AT^2

Up and Uq = 15m/s
Ap = -4 m/s^2
Aq = -5 m/s^2

= 15T - 2T^2 - 15T - 2.5T^2 + 24

= 24 -4.5T^2

Got 18.375 for the second part.

Am I wrong?

Best of luck to everybody...

There should be a double negative in there. Sp is 15t -2t*2 and Sq is 15-2.5t*2. Distance between is Sq-Sp+distance at start (24) which is 15t-2.5t*2-15t-(-2t*2)+24, which is 24-.5t*2.

While you're here, did your answer to 5 b make any sense (ie were the impulses the same) because no one I've seen here got it.

• Thanks Matthew I am just going to walk away from it my head is scrambled. I was clearer on the day. No, 5b was a mystery to me too...

• I appreciate most of you folk may have mentally signed off at this stage, but thought this was worth a shot.

I thought both this year's and last year's papers were particularly difficult and I am concerned about the effect this could have on the long term take-up of the subject if this pattern was to continue. I appreciate that A students will probably do fine on the paper and be able to handle most of the questions. But for those not in this category, I would be interested in how you (honestly) found the paper.
I have penned a bloppost on this at
thinkforyourself.ie

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie

• hohum wrote: »
I appreciate most of you folk may have mentally signed off at this stage, but thought this was worth a shot.

I thought both this year's and last year's papers were particularly difficult and I am concerned about the effect this could have on the long term take-up of the subject if this pattern was to continue. I appreciate that A students will probably do fine on the paper and be able to handle most of the questions. But for those not in this category, I would be interested in how you (honestly) found the paper.
I have penned a bloppost on this at
thinkforyourself.ie

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie

Can I ask what in particular you found particularly difficult about the two papers?

• hohum wrote: »
I appreciate most of you folk may have mentally signed off at this stage, but thought this was worth a shot.

I thought both this year's and last year's papers were particularly difficult and I am concerned about the effect this could have on the long term take-up of the subject if this pattern was to continue. I appreciate that A students will probably do fine on the paper and be able to handle most of the questions. But for those not in this category, I would be interested in how you (honestly) found the paper.
I have penned a bloppost on this at
thinkforyourself.ie

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie
Firstly Noel thanks a million for setting up a great website. I thought this years paper was tough compared to others, I found 1b all of 3 to be fairly dirty compared to other years and 5b incredibly long and tedious

• Join Date: Oct 2006

Now that's what I call a long time reader, first time poster.

I wouldn't say this years paper was particularly tough looking back. 2 and 10 were routine as they come. 3, 4 and 5 were hard for sections that are usually straight forward, and 1, while not routine, was very easy if you had any notion on power and an inclined plane.

On another note, isn't it a bit weird how, considering the marks are handed out in 5 marks supplements, an attempt mark (2) for a section will get you the exact same as everything right except for one blunder (5-3=2)?

• hohum wrote: »

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie

First of all, thank you for your excellent website. In the absence of pre-01 marking schemes your site has been a lifesafer, and has really helped me eh, not fail everything on this course

Anyway, I concur largely with your sentiments.

The problem is not with Question 2, or 1(b), 7(a) or 5(b) alone etc being odd. The problem is so many questions being odd.

By all means, change things around - that's great. But give students time to prepare. Putting 4 or 5 unusual questions on paper is completely, unforgivably unjust. Perhaps if they gave us warning - a list of topics to be revived or something.

The best that could be done for this subject would be a relatively easy paper next year. Sort out the bell curve later.

Thanks again, you're some man for one man

• hohum wrote: »
I appreciate most of you folk may have mentally signed off at this stage, but thought this was worth a shot.

I thought both this year's and last year's papers were particularly difficult and I am concerned about the effect this could have on the long term take-up of the subject if this pattern was to continue. I appreciate that A students will probably do fine on the paper and be able to handle most of the questions. But for those not in this category, I would be interested in how you (honestly) found the paper.
I have penned a bloppost on this at
thinkforyourself.ie

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie

Applied Maths is my favourite subject by far, generally get A1s with minimal effort... I thought the paper was an absolute disgrace, a lot of the questions seemed designed deliberately to trick people, and I can fully understand how a lot of people may have been completely thrown off by the manner in which some questions were asked, for example the pulley system shown in Q4.a. This system was clearly designed as a trick and completely deviates from the precedent of the part as simply being a test of knowledge and understanding as opposed to a problem solving question. Question 1.b was also quite an atypical question.

In the school I go to, the numbers taking up applied maths are dropping as far as I know and in all fairness this paper and the reaction to it would not exactly encourage me to take up the subject.

• hohum wrote: »
I appreciate most of you folk may have mentally signed off at this stage, but thought this was worth a shot.

I thought both this year's and last year's papers were particularly difficult and I am concerned about the effect this could have on the long term take-up of the subject if this pattern was to continue. I appreciate that A students will probably do fine on the paper and be able to handle most of the questions. But for those not in this category, I would be interested in how you (honestly) found the paper.
I have penned a bloppost on this at
thinkforyourself.ie

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie

I'm not an A student in Applied Maths, I think I got 1 A in about 20 class tests over the past 2 years, I'd usually average a B2. I didn't actually find this paper too out of the ordinary. The first part of q4, although it was confusing, the only approach that made sense was to give one of the accelerations twice the other, so it wasn't bad really. I don't get why people are complaining about q3, I'd done questions extremely similar to that several times. Q5 was incredibly tedious, finding the kinetic energy after the collision was honestly one of the longest pieces of algebra I've ever done. Q2 was unusual, but it wasn't particularly hard in my opinion. Q1 was very tricky and sly, even part a. Q8 was very nice and 10 wasn't bad either.

On the whole, I honestly don't see why the reaction to this paper is as bad as it is. I think more exams like this would make people think differently, which can only be a good thing.
This was one of my better applied maths exams, and I thank my teacher for that. Every test he ever gave us was from the 1999 exam papers at the earliest, the papers were harder back then so you really work hard, and don't go into state exams overconfident. I can see where people are coming from when they say this exam had too many surprises for one paper, but I think if you approach the exam expecting to be under pressure, and know you'll have to face some weird questions, then it was fine.

• hohum wrote: »
I appreciate most of you folk may have mentally signed off at this stage, but thought this was worth a shot.

I thought both this year's and last year's papers were particularly difficult and I am concerned about the effect this could have on the long term take-up of the subject if this pattern was to continue. I appreciate that A students will probably do fine on the paper and be able to handle most of the questions. But for those not in this category, I would be interested in how you (honestly) found the paper.
I have penned a bloppost on this at
thinkforyourself.ie

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie

Hi Noel,

Thanks for your great website, the wealth of past papers and marking schemes have been invaluable throughout the year.

On the topic of this year's paper, I genuinely did not find it that bad. I have been getting A1's in pretty much all of my class tests and I've done a good few past papers, and I thought that the paper wasn't too out of the ordinary. Questions similar to question 1 have been asked before, and I don't see what the problem is with it being slightly different. Question two was very manageable when approached with a calm head, question three was mostly standard except for the last part, as were four and five, less the tedious algebra of the latter. Question ten was also manageable in my opinion.

I do appreciate that the questions were slightly different this year, but they were no more difficult. If students can only solve problems that they have seen before and not adapt to abstract scenarios (as shown by question two), should they really be doing applied maths? If the exam has to be made so predictable so as to cater for students of all abilities, what's the point of it? Applied maths is difficult, and so it should be. If it means that numbers taking the subject will drop, I don't see the problem – the integrity of the subject will be maintained.

While I don't speak from a C-student's point of view, I do not see how they could have found it so difficult.

Mark

• hohum wrote: »
I appreciate most of you folk may have mentally signed off at this stage, but thought this was worth a shot.

I thought both this year's and last year's papers were particularly difficult and I am concerned about the effect this could have on the long term take-up of the subject if this pattern was to continue. I appreciate that A students will probably do fine on the paper and be able to handle most of the questions. But for those not in this category, I would be interested in how you (honestly) found the paper.
I have penned a bloppost on this at
thinkforyourself.ie

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie

Hi Noel, thanks for this!

I was an A1 student studying Applied Maths as an 8th subject outside school. I was quite confident in my ability and really enjoyed solving the problems for homework. I learned a huge amount in the 2 years I was doing Applied Maths and felt it really benefitted me for Physics and Project Maths as well.

I was terribly disappointed with the paper, and I will not be getting the grade I hoped for. It wasn't impossibly difficult, I just didn't feel that that paper gave me an opportunity to demonstrate how much I had learned. What annoys me is that I probably could have worked out every problem on the paper properly if I had more than 25 minutes per question. When you're under time pressure you have to rely to a certain extent on practised methods and familiar approaches - you don't have time to think about a problem from several angles and try new things! And the more time you spend trying to work out how to approach the question, the less time you have to actually work through the Maths - I know I rushed through a lot of the algebra and as a result made mistakes that will cost me marks.

I'm all for ensuring that students are able to think for themselves, I just don't think throwing lots of unconventional problems at them in the one exam that determines their grade for 2 years' work is fair at all.

• Allow me to associate myself with the comments made by others regarding thephysicsteacher.ie: it's an excellent resource and one I feel is in the spirit of education in that monetisable content has been released to the web for the benefit of students. While there are a few others, I find it disappointing that there aren't more examples of such sites.

First, I don't think the exam was especially difficult. As was said, 1,2, and 10 were very much on the easy side, and 3, 4, and 5 (a) were in no way peculiar. It's strange that 7 incorporated Rigid-body Motion as that will only discourage the taking of what is already a little-taken question.

Either way, I don't see how a difficult exam could have an effect on uptake, which is most influenced by A-rate (which won't change) and ill-defined perceptions regarding the subject. It seems to me that if AM is to increase its uptake, it ought to attack the second: the perception that the subject is an extension of LC maths (as we all know, the majority of the maths on the AM syllabus is little more advanced than JC). The best way, IMO, to do that would be to offer an introductory course and, with that in mind, I find it astonishing that a course hasn't been designed which could be delivered by schools in Transition Year (I'm aware that some schools, including thephysicsteacher's, offer something along those lines). Another issue is that the subject applies maths to a very limited range of topics, Newtonian Mechanics - something which does not appeal to the vast majority of those that don't take Physics. The course could be redesigned to include numerous other areas of Applied Maths. This is an interesting paper (given as a speech) which, amongst other things, discusses potential topics. There is scope for the inclusion of a project and of ICT, as well. The exam paper itself could have an MCQ-section and be a lot more accessible without compromising its standard.

I think AM has a problem: if it is to be justifiable as a stand-alone subject, it must be challenging; it needs to reward something different from core maths (already, IMO, it's dangerously close to not meeting that criterion). And, let's face it, if the difficulty remains as is, any increase in uptake as a percentage of LC cohort is likely to be negligible. The alternative is to somewhat decrease the standard, but then there'd be a situation where even averagely-talented maths students would be getting an almost guaranteed AA from the two subjects.

In the UK, the content of AM is incorporated into the A-level Maths/F. Maths course as choice modules (M1-4). The same could happen here.

I loved Applied Maths so much that I swapped Economics for Physics on my CAO after five years of thinking I had wanted to do the former. But I must conclude that it is not justifiable to have a Physics subject which is stripped of decent maths and two maths subjects which reward the exact same aptitudes.

This is a topic which greatly interests me, and I look forward to reading others' remarks.

• hohum wrote: »
I appreciate most of you folk may have mentally signed off at this stage, but thought this was worth a shot.

I thought both this year's and last year's papers were particularly difficult and I am concerned about the effect this could have on the long term take-up of the subject if this pattern was to continue. I appreciate that A students will probably do fine on the paper and be able to handle most of the questions. But for those not in this category, I would be interested in how you (honestly) found the paper.
I have penned a bloppost on this at
thinkforyourself.ie

I would appreciate your thoughts either here or as a comment on the blog.

I will forward all relevant comments to the Applied Maths convener and the comments should get read out on the day that the examiners come together to put together their marking scheme.

Noel
thephysicsteacher.ie

I felt this paper was really difficult, I was really disappointed with how I performed. I get mostly As and Bs in class test and I got a B1 with only 5 topics done for the pree. I had 8 topics for the actual leaving cert and was pretty competent in all of them but now, I can't see myself getting more than a C in this exam.

I thought the lack of straightforward questions in this exam was a real problem. Question 1(b) was atypical, question 2(a) was quite difficult and strange as a question with a table has never been asked before, question 4(a) was sneaky, considering the acceleration and the pulley system, question 5(b) was very long and tedious, question 6(b) was unusual, I had never seen it before and question 9 (a) was hard. All these unusual and difficult questions unsettled me.

Furthermore there were no easy questions, except perhaps question 10 (which many people won't get right because they will forget the change in direction). You need a few straightforward and easy questions on a paper so you have time for the trickier questions.

To be honest my biggest problem with the paper was the lack of "show that questions". I had no idea with some of the stranger questions, if I was even close to the correct answer, it was really discouraging.

Lastly your leaving cert website is amazing, it really helped me in physics

• qweerty wrote: »
Allow me to associate myself with the comments made by others regarding thephysicsteacher.ie: it's an excellent resource and one I feel is in the spirit of education in that monetisable content has been released to the web for the benefit of students. While there are a few others, I find it disappointing that there aren't more examples of such sites.

First, I don't think the exam was especially difficult. As was said, 1,2, and 10 were very much on the easy side, and 3, 4, and 5 (a) were in no way peculiar. It's strange that 7 incorporated Rigid-body Motion as that will only discourage the taking of what is already a little-taken question.

Either way, I don't see how a difficult exam could have an effect on uptake, which is most influenced by A-rate (which won't change) and ill-defined perceptions regarding the subject. It seems to me that if AM is to increase its uptake, it ought to attack the second: the perception that the subject is an extension of LC maths (as we all know, the majority of the maths on the AM syllabus is little more advanced than JC). The best way, IMO, to do that would be to offer an introductory course and, with that in mind, I find it astonishing that a course hasn't been designed which could be delivered by schools in Transition Year (I'm aware that some schools, including thephysicsteacher's, offer something along those lines). Another issue is that the subject applies maths to a very limited range of topics, Newtonian Mechanics - something which does not appeal to the vast majority of those that don't take Physics. The course could be redesigned to include numerous other areas of Applied Maths. This is an interesting paper (given as a speech) which, amongst other things, discusses potential topics. There is scope for the inclusion of a project and of ICT, as well. The exam paper itself could have an MCQ-section and be a lot more accessible without compromising its standard.

I think AM has a problem: if it is to be justifiable as a stand-alone subject, it must be challenging; it needs to reward something different from core maths (already, IMO, it's dangerously close to not meeting that criterion). And, let's face it, if the difficulty remains as is, any increase in uptake as a percentage of LC cohort is likely to be negligible. The alternative is to somewhat decrease the standard, but then there'd be a situation where even averagely-talented maths students would be getting an almost guaranteed AA from the two subjects.

In the UK, the content of AM is incorporated into the A-level Maths/F. Maths course as choice modules (M1-4). The same could happen here.

I loved Applied Maths so much that I swapped Economics for Physics on my CAO after five years of thinking I had wanted to do the former. But I must conclude that it is not justifiable to have a Physics subject which is stripped of decent maths and two maths subjects which reward the exact same aptitudes.

This is a topic which greatly interests me, and I look forward to reading others' remarks.

I've just read Noel Cunningham's blog post, and reread his sub-OP, and it's clear to me that I went quite far off-topic!

I'm more than a little surprised by the response of NC and the teacher's he quotes (on his blog) to the paper. So strongly worded was his post - "disgraceful", etc - that I went back to see if perhaps I had misjudged. And it seems I must inhabit the same planet as the ASTI spokesperson (something, trust me, I never expected), because not only do I slightly disagree with the suggestion that this was a very difficult paper, I'm on the other end of the spectrum!

First, we can all agree that the syllabus document is "a disgrace": it is astonishing that a proper one hasn't been written (which is, of course, a consequence of the subject's having remained unchanged for forty years).

NC equates last years paper with this year's in term of difficulty and talks about the C-student being most punished, but they were unaffected by last year's paper: the 2013 A-C rate was the highest (slightly) it has been in at least six years. While, the A-rate was unchanged on two years previously (although a larger proportion got A2s), it was the B-rate which was affected (three percentage points lower than the average of the last six years). So, a "difficult paper" was largely not reflected in the results. What then is the problem - that prospective students would be deterred because of incorrectly perceiving the exam to be difficult to score well in?

• 1. Thank you for the feedback on the website – glad you find it useful.

2. Adam Ryan has taken the time to write a considerable response in the ‘Comments’ section of the blog (thinkforyourself.ie), so please read it if you have the time.

3. This may seem a little condescending, but I appreciate that nobody here is throwing insults as is often the norm in some discussion forums. I don’t use boards.ie much but it does seem to be very well moderated.

4. Some folk here could be accused of jumping on the bandwagon in relation to giving out about the exam just to have a moan; I don’t think there’s any evidence that this is the case here.

5. Interestingly, the feedback is pretty much 50:50 in relation to whether the exam was fine or was terrible. It certainly is a very polarised response. I would have thought initially that the A students would have been the ones who thought it was fine, but even some of these students had issues with it.
Obviously none of this is to be interpreted as being in any way representative.

6. I acknowledge that the word ‘disgrace’ is quite strong. If I could think of a better word I would have used it; the problem is that terms like ‘cause for concern’ or ‘worrying’ aren’t nearly strong enough. I don’t mean it to have overtones of a personal attack in any way, so if that’s how people perceive it I will of course row back. It’s difficult to see how any one person could have the responsibility of making out a paper anyway (and remember there needs to be at least two separate papers in case the first one is ‘compromised') but if it’s a team effort then that would suggest that the change in direction is a very conscious one.

7. Now we come to the crux of the matter.
If the results in August don’t vary much from year to year then what’s all the fuss about?
I don’t believe they will change much this year; the ability to change the marking schemes in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways would stretch the bounds of incredulity. And as teachers I think we take some sort of oath never to speak about it outside of the profession.

When it comes to students making up their minds about whether or not to take up the subject, word-of-mouth can be a big factor. And most students from the past two years will say that their paper was difficult/ very difficult and might even reasonably conclude that it seems to be getting harder every year.
Many current students will only notice this effect when they start doing the 2013 and 2014 papers during the school year – again it is not unreasonable to think that they will pass on their observations to younger students. Some of these students going into their final year are doing so with seven or eight subjects and would be considering dropping one after Christmas, just when they see the Applied Maths papers from the last two years for the first time. Could this influence their decision on what subject on which subject to drop? I don’t see why not.

Maybe all this wouldn’t matter so much if the numbers taking the subject were large to begin with. But in many schools if the numbers drop at all it could well result in the school no longer offering the subject. In other schools it could be the teacher (possibly teaching the subject after normal school hours) becoming disillusioned at seeing their students exiting the exam hall visibly upset (and I have had a number of teachers and parents who told me exactly this) and as a result seeing little point in teaching the subject in the future.

8. I would be intrigued to know if there was a class of mixed-ability students out there who all thought this was a fair exam. If so, then I’m doing something wrong and I’d rather know about it now and try to improve my teaching accordingly than sit on the ditch and moan. I try to make all my teaching as transparent as possible, not just to help other teachers, but also to learn from others who might see what I’m doing and suggest a better way. None of us are so perfect that we can’t improve. And few subjects are taught in isolation as much as Applied Maths.

• hohum wrote: »
3. This may seem a little condescending, but I appreciate that nobody here is throwing insults as is often the norm in some discussion forums. I don’t use boards.ie much but it does seem to be very well moderated.
Why, thank you, sir! ... and I mean that very sincerely, you would be surprised how seldom we (as in moderators site-wide on Boards, rather than particularly in this forum) hear any positive comments; we are far more likely to be told that we are petty dictators zealously wielding our tiny power on an internet forum to compensate for what is lacking in our lives or indeed in our ... well, let's just say the comments can get a whole lot more personal! :rolleyes:

In fairness to the vast majority of the users of this forum over the years though, I think we as mods of this forum would share the credit with them. Considering their youth and the stress they can be under at times, the vast majority in my experience are co-operative, pleasant and appreciative of any help they get from their peers, from the mods or indeed from a small number of teachers and students from previous years who pop in to help.

There's probably something of a cycle in play tbh ... we DO insist on a certain minimum standard of courtesy and respect at least in terms of the interaction on the forum, and I suspect those for whom that is comfortable and perhaps welcome tend to stick around and become regulars, and those for whom it is restrictive tend to migrate elsewhere. And in turn those regulars help to set the tone for those who follow after.

We get the odd incident and fight-the-powah merchant ofc, but in the main, this is a very pleasant forum to mod!

tl;dr:

@Noel: Many thanks for your comment; much appreciated.

@EveryoneElse: You lot get to take a bow too!

• James G wrote:
I have to say that I don’t agree with the majority of what Adam has said. I’ve commented on boards.ie as well but I want to reply to what was said here. Again, I stress that I am not an A student, I’m a mid B student and a really good exam for me would yield a B1. Our class never covered Q6, so I have no comment on that question, it may indeed have been horrible. Q2 is where my opinion differs most from Adams. Yes, there has never been a table before. And yes, the half hour intervals made the question awkward. However, I don’t see why this evoked such a strong reaction. I found the question to actually be very straightforward, once you got the positions of the boats at one time. It required a calmness in approach, at first, I saw the question and grimaced, but once I actually considered what was asked for two minutes, it was fine. You just needed to be quite careful. Saying that questions like this are unacceptable since we’ve never had a table before, is in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous. An applied maths student aiming for an A should be well able to adapt to a slightly strange question. Once the leg work was done,this question was very basic.

Q1: Part A should not have been a surprise, it’s fairly straigforward. Part B ii was unusual, I’m still not fully sure if my answer is correct. I realised that the car couldn’t really have an acceleration, as then it wouldn’t have a maximum speed, and the question wasn’t bad from then on. I can understand complaints with this question to a certain extent.

Q4: Part a was certainly different. Again, I think peoples’ reactions have been extreme. Although I had never seen a system like it, the only approach that made any sense was to give one acceleration twice the other. We simply couldn’t solve the question if the accelerations and tensions were completely random and not connected to each other. I accept that this was an off-putting question, but by no means unacceptable. Part B was basically as standard as they come.

Q5: Part B of question 5 was incredibly time consuming. It was a different approach than normal. However, again, if you took your time and were careful with your algebra, then this question was actually easier than normal, in my opinion.

Q3: I found this question to be absolutely ordinary. For part B, some people seemed shocked by the fact that the particle struck the inclined plane moving horizontally. I really don’t understand why, I’ve done several questions like that in past papers and in the Applied Maths book. If you look at what we were asked to prove, it’s quite similar to q3 2004 in terms of algebra.

Q8: Part a is always fine. Part B was by no means unusually hard. Finding the period of oscillations was actually easier than it might’ve been,since finding the moment of inertia was quite simple. Part 2 is hard, undoubtedly. Just understanding the wording of the question was difficult, and I think this is unfair and unnecessary. Saying this, I’ve always struggled with this question, and I feel like most people who planned on doing q8 (I didn’t) would have been able to deal with all of the q.

Q10: Part A was quite typical. Part B was also fairly typical, the second part was challenging, but at least part 3 was attemptable without getting part 2, and this is fair.

So, to sum up, Q2,3,5,8 and 10 were pretty much standard in terms of real difficulty, once you adjusted to the strange layout. This is 5 out of 6 questions. I thought q1 and 4 were genuinely strange, unexpected and difficult. I didn’t go near qs 6,7 or 9, so I don’t know what they’re like. However, most people do q1-5 and 10, and 4 out of 6 of these qs were nowhere near as hard as they could’ve been. Maybe this exam just suited me for some reason, as I seem to be in a minority with my opinion. However, if I’m really honest, peoples’ reactions to this exam make no sense to me. Did they sit the same paper as I did? Because I did roughly as well as I expected, whereas others are saying they went in aiming for an A and will now be happy with a C.

I’m not trying to anger anyone or show off in any way (I definitely didn’t get an A), but I just want to show that I disagree with most peoples’ reactions to this exam.

I hope it is ok to reply cross-boards as I ultimately do not want to turn the comment thread on that blog-post into a discussion board when it was directed here (and I also can't seem to find out how to edit the comment and remove some of the errors I had made in typing it out and, foolishly, forgetting to proof-read it).

Funnily enough, I don't think we actually have a disagreement; the comment was about the state of the Applied Maths paper in general, and what seems to be the new trend of presenting a huge variety of things in an atypical fashion when this has rarely been the case prior to last year, rather than a complaint that the mathematics found in this paper was exceptionally difficult (which it wasn't as you state), and that doing this runs counter to the materials we have to prepare for the examination (the book and exam material alike), the timing of the examination, and the lack of indication from the department as to whether or not students henceforth should come to expect more dynamic and unusual presentation of questions so that teachers can adapt their lessons in this manner.

To respond more directly to your comments on each question (which is more specific than I was hoping for in my response to the blog post that had been made), you have acknowledged that the layout in many of the most common questions (Q1 bii, Q2a, Q4a, Q5b; I agree that Q3 was very typical and I can't agree with surprise at it travelling horizontally because, as you state, it was in numerous prior papers) was very unusual, and this is precisely what my issue is; that it, to quote Mr Cunningham, "varie[d] considerably from the usual format" and while much of the maths was typical, the presentation was absolutely not. I agree that "an applied maths student aiming for an A should be well able to adapt to a slightly strange question", but the issue I have with the paper, personally, is that it was not just "a slightly strange question" (and this ignores how lower grade students would fare, and that's going to have an even more considerable effect upon the subject's uptake), it was a variety of questions that were not inherently difficult, but were made deceptively difficult due to the combination of the time limit, the presentation of questions, and the lack of material to adequately prepare. To go directly to Question 4a, my question for you is why present it in that manner, rather than with the general pressentation, if not designed specifically to mislead certain students into interpretting it incorrectly? Either way, the student will still display their apptitude in recognising that "Fnet=ma' and solving it. Similarly, for Question 5b, by making it so long, even though the maths isn't particularly challenging as you state, it becomes more of a maths test rather than checking if the students' method in solving the problem is correct, by providing more areas than normal to make a slip/blunder. Again, to re-emphasize, I agree that the maths is overall not too challenging, particularly in comparison to the much older papers, my objection is that the paper almost resembles a free-for-all in so many unusually presented areas that is very atypical to how the paper has been for so long (and as a result, likely runs in opposition to how many teachers will teach it, and how many students will learn it).

When, for ten/fifteen/twenty years in a row with few exceptions, questions are presented in the same manner, the natural assumption, for teachers and students alike, is that they will continue to do so. As has been stated in the blog post, "maybe Applied Maths isn’t meant to be a subject where students rely on past papers as a guide. Perhaps it should an ‘anything is fair game to appear on the paper’ approach" and this would absolutely be acceptable, in my opinon (which actually seems to be in contrast to Mr Cunningham's opinion as it would only suit the more 'elite' students), if the department had actually stated that this was their desire, so at least students and teachers alike would be aware that a broader variety of related topics need to be covered rather than rigidly sticking to the few typical styles of questions, and typical diagrams, that have been present in the past.

I am glad to hear the paper went well for you however.

EDIT: To just shorten it for anybody who doesn't want to read so much; my main objection is that there seems to have been a shift in the style of examination (this being the second unusual year in a row) without any indication from the department, without a range of potential examples as to how they may present the questions in this style for students to adequately prepare themselves to adapt to more 'interesting' questions (for example, there are many sample "Project Mathematics" papers available; there can always be oddly presented questions, but at least students know to expect this, and have adjusted their studying of the subject to account for this), rather than the actual maths of the questions being particularly challenging.

EDIT 2: Also I'm going to assume that you ("James G") are "qweerty" as people with positive comments regarding the paper seem to be the minority, and the opinions seem to allign, but apologies if this is an incorrect assumption. EDIT: I see this is not the case as below.

• Nope - I isn't James G. And, as far as I know, he isn't me!

I do agree with most of what he says, though.

I wrote a response earlier and decided to delay sending it. I'm glad I did, cause it's given me the chance to make it a lot more civil

I enjoyed reading it, but ultimately I agreed with very little in your post.

Where to start..? I think you greatly exaggerate when you say that Oliver Murphy’s textbook is now "useless" and "worthless", that the extent of the change in layout of this year's AM paper is similar to that in core Maths, that AM no longer rewards the "logical approach", and countless (!) others.

"I appreciate the department's desire to make "Applied Mathematics" align with "Project Mathematics" in presenting students with problems that must be tackled in a creative manner using the existing framework, but…" - is what's in bold not exactly what AM was before? We can argue that the problems on this year's paper expected unreasonable amounts of creativity, but not that this is some departure from what was before. If we are to have that argument, though, I would strongly reject that "tricks" were employed or even that any question was especially difficult. You seem to advocate a paper that has few surprises and rewards a methodical approach - that would be prone to cynical rote-learning.

You and NC say that having an adequately-presented syllabus would justify this year’s paper, but why? Any syllabus wouldn't give indications of what the paper would resemble.

Your fears that A-students will get C's, B-students D's, and that C-students will Fail are, as stats I mentioned in a previous post show, not going to be realised.

As one who repeated, I genuinely empathise with those who did worse than they expected, but I think the paper is being scape-goated.

• I don't think that paper difficulty can fairly be compensated for by manipulating the marking scheme.

As difficulty increases the ability to answer a question becomes a binary thing, you either get lucky with some sort of eureka moment three minutes into the question or you don't have a clue. Distinguishing between candidates' ability becomes less fair. I'm also not convinced that a harder paper better suits the more skilled candidate - in my (limited) experience a harder paper simply introduces more randomness in scores relative to others of similar skill and preparation of the examined topic, but then again I haven't studied education :rolleyes:

Perhaps I am a weaker student for holding this view, but an easier exam is more 'precise' in determining all skill levels because it is consistent, less all-or-nothing, than relying on an unnatural marking scheme which emphasises some well answered part of the exam. Even a simple upscaling of everyone's scores is fairer than that. It obviously shouldn't be easy, but percentages should closely resemble final grades.

• I don't think that paper difficulty can fairly be compensated for by manipulating the marking scheme.

As difficulty increases the ability to answer a question becomes a binary thing, you either get lucky with some sort of eureka moment three minutes into the question or you don't have a clue. Distinguishing between candidates' ability becomes less fair. I'm also not convinced that a harder paper better suits the more skilled candidate - in my (limited) experience a harder paper simply introduces more randomness in scores relative to others of similar skill and preparation of the examined topic, but then again I haven't studied education :rolleyes:

Perhaps I am a weaker student for holding this view, but an easier exam is more 'precise' in determining all skill levels because it is consistent, less all-or-nothing, than relying on an unnatural marking scheme which emphasises some well answered part of the exam. Even a simple upscaling of everyone's scores is fairer than that. It obviously shouldn't be easy, but percentages should closely resemble final grades.

I would love to have a discussion regardig the fairness of manipulating distributions, but it's one no teacher seems willing to have. Of the subjects I've done, Chemistry was the worst: allowing a certain answer to be correct one year but not another.

I entirely agree that an unusually difficult paper cannot always be fairly corrected, but disagree that an easy exam is favourable: for the first, students are differentiated based on performance in early parts of questions; for the second, performance in later parts. A paper which adequately differentiates candidates at all levels is impossible, IMO, without greatly increasing the number of q's.

Your analysis of the effect of a difficult paper ignores how answers are marked: ~1/3 going for initial setup, with wrong answers only being punished once. You could argue that a question could be initially so difficult that a student would find it impossible to continue, but I don't think any was.

• I'm James G. Or am I???

Ya no I am. The exam is over now and my initial desire to voice my opinions has basically gone, I don't want to think about the paper again until August. As a last word I'll just say that I fully agree with qweerty's view that this paper is being scapegoated. I think A students who were unhappy with the exam want to say that it was too strange, instead of admitting that maybe they just didn't perform on the day. Again, no offence is meant by anything I've said, it's just what I think. Hopefully everyone will be happy with their results. Bye now.