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Leaving Cert exam papers: Mathematics

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Mathematics is a challenging but important exam that students must pass to gain their Leaving Certificate qualification. The exam covers a wide range of mathematical topics, so to be confident and prepared for the papers you will need to revise a lot of different areas from the syllabus using a variety of resources and techniques.

In this guide, we will explain how the Leaving Cert Mathematics exam is structured and what you can expect on these papers. We’ll also highlight some study tips and resources to support your revision for this subject.

The Leaving Cert Mathematics exam

Leaving Cert Mathematics is studied at the Foundation, Ordinary and Higher levels. At the Ordinary and Higher levels, the exam is split into two papers (Paper A and Paper B), each of which is split into two sections (Section A and Section B). Both papers are two and a half hours in duration.

At the Foundation level, there is only one two-and-a-half-hour paper which is split into two sections (Section A and Section B).

In any paper, Section A will focus on core mathematical concepts and skills. These will relate to:

  • Statistics and Probability

  • Geometry and Trigonometry

  • Number

  • Algebra

  • Functions

Section B concerns applying maths to real-world scenarios. It will require you to demonstrate your knowledge of key theories and terms by solving mathematical problems and providing logical reasons for your solutions, where necessary.

What to expect in Leaving Cert Mathematics exam papers

The format of the Leaving Certificate Mathematics examination changed for 2022. Most notably, in previous papers, you had to do all of the questions in both sections and had no choice. This was the case at all study levels. At the Foundation level, for example, Section A used to be worth 200 marks and there were eight questions each worth 25 marks. This has changed for the 2022 adjustment (see below).

Paper 1 will be based primarily on what you learned during your 5th Year, focusing on Algebra and Differentiation. Paper 2 will mostly concern Statistics and Probability and cover your learning from 6th Year.

Higher and Ordinary levels

At the Higher and Ordinary levels, Section A of the Leaving Cert Mathematics exam papers will test your knowledge of core mathematical topics. You should expect to see questions in areas such as quadratics, cubic functions and mean/standard deviation.

There are 150 marks available in Section A, which contains six questions—you will only need to do five of these and they are each worth 30 marks. In previous years, students had to do all six questions and they were each worth 25 marks.

Section B is also worth 150 marks, and there are four questions in this part of the paper. You will only need to do three of these questions and they are each worth 50 marks. In previous papers, students had to do every question but the number of questions varied from year to year, meaning the marks per question also varied.

Foundation level

The Foundation level Mathematics exam is worth a total of 300 marks. Out of these marks, 210 are from Section A (Concepts & Skills) and the remaining 90 are from Section B (Contexts & Applications).

Section A has eight questions, each worth 30 marks. You will be required to do seven of these questions. Section B has three questions, each worth 45 marks. You must do two of these questions.

How to revise for Leaving Cert Mathematics exams

It’s important to start revising in a timely fashion if you want to do well when taking your Leaving Cert Mathematics exams. Here are a few tips on how to revise:

  • Use sample and past exam papers to help you get a feel for the types of questions that are likely to come up

  • Create a study plan that breaks down each topic into much smaller chunks. This will help you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  • Practice showing your working out —take an easy question and write down each stage of the calculation. This will help build up your confidence and improve your speed before moving on to trickier questions.

  • Work on your core skills by starting with the basic concepts and formulas before moving on to more complex skills. This will give you a solid foundation to work through those trickier questions, even when the answer or solution isn’t immediately obvious when you first see the question.

  • Practice active recall to stimulate your memory through consistently and repeatedly putting in the effort to test your knowledge and retrieve information.

  • Use visual memory cues like flashcards and mind mapping if you struggle remembering the content of textbooks.

Edco Mathematics exam papers

Edco Mathematics exam papers are available for Higher, Ordinary and Foundation level students to revise the subject and learn how to earn as many marks as possible on the final exam. As well as sample and past exam papers, these books include up-to-date guides to achieving better grades and exam paper analysis charts.

Edco also provides Higher and Ordinary level solutions booklets so you can check your answers to the questions in the exam papers.

Other resources for revising Leaving Cert Mathematics

Revise Wise – Leaving Cert – Maths

Revise Wise – Leaving Cert – Maths. These books have full-colour designs and are packed with revision notes, tips and guidance which has been written by subject experts. They include graded exercises and detailed solutions to support the development of your skills from basic to advanced.

Essentials Unfolded – Leaving Cert – Maths – Higher Level and Ordinary Level

Essentials Unfolded – Leaving Cert – Maths – Higher Level and Ordinary Level

Each topic in these books has a dedicated single or double-page spread. Text is kept to a minimum and diagrams are clear and well-labelled. Keywords and definitions are highlighted for convenience and accessibility.