Jean Kelly from Dublin's Institute of Education is here with six videos full of great advice and tips for Leaving Cert students preparing to sit the Maths Ordinary Level exam. Scroll down for all the videos!

Jean has a wide breadth of experience in teaching Leaving Cert Ordinary Level Maths to students of all abilities and has been teaching in The Institute of Education for over 10 years. Over that time, Jean has developed an unmatched track record in helping students through the Maths syllabus and brings a refreshing approach to the explanation, clarification and tuition of the Maths syllabus.

The Exam

Both Exam Papers: Timing & Marks - 2 and 1/2 Hours = 220 Marks

Do four out of six short 30-mark questions (20 mins per Q)


Do two out of four long 50-mark questions (30 mins per Q)

This leaves 10 mins to read over the paper and ensure all parts are answered.


Video 1

Algebra (20% of the syllabus) can pop into any question on both papers.


Make sure to learn about factors, common factors, Lowest Common Denominator, and factorising.

There are THREE main types of questions asked on this topic:

i) Q. Write as a single fraction (adding & subtracting fractions)

ii) Q. Simplify (writing the answer in its simplest form)

iii) Q. Solve for x (solving equations involving fractions/looking for missing values where you could multiply the bottoms of each fraction or a common bottom by everything in the equation to get rid to the fractions first)

The three type is asked on the exam every year and getting to grips with fractions can improve your mathematical skills enormously.

Video 2

Trigonometry (usually pops up in a short 30-mark question and a long 50-mark question on paper 2)

Right-Angled Triangles: (90% of the battle is won if you learn how to label a triangles' sides according to its angles)

Know the main rules:

  1. Theorem: 3 angles add to give 180 degrees
  2. Labels of sides: a = opposite angle in Q, b = adjacent to or between the right-angle and the angle in Q and c = hypotenuse the longest side, opposite the 90-degree angle
  3. Area = 1/2 the base times the perpendicular height
  4. Pythagoras' Theorem: "The square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides" Used to prove that a triangle is right-angled and to find the 3rd side of a triangle when we know the other two sides
  5. Trigonometric Ratios: Using SinA, CosA and TanA to find lengths of sides (Need any angle and a side) and angles ( Need 2 sides)

Video 3

Co-ordinate Geometry (Line & Circle: Always 2 short questions on paper 2 which could account for 60/220 marks this year)

Equation of a Line & Circle: (Equation of a Line can be linked in with Algebra, Functions & Graphs, Calculus and Number Patterns on paper 1, Tangents also appear linked with the Circle on paper 2)

Finding the Equation of a Line requires a point (X1,Y1) or (O,c) and a slope, m (formulae are found on page 18 of the Log Tables given)

Finding the Equation of a Circle requires a centre point (h,k) and a radius length, r (formula found on page 19 of the Log Tables given)

Video 4

Area, Length, Nets & Volume (A topic that like Algebra, can pop up in almost any question on either paper, be prepared from Friday 5th)

Trapezoidal Rule: {Area is estimated to be equal to h/2 [1st + Last + 2(Sum of the remaining Vertical Lengths) ]}

It is easier to use this formula over the one in the Log Tables when using the Trapezoidal Rule to figure out the area of an irregular shape. We are not always looking for the area, we could also be asked to find one of the vertical lengths on the diagram or to find the interval width between the vertical lengths, h.

This rule regularly shows its face with Functions & Graphs on paper 1. Don't forget your maths sets because you could be asked to measure a few lengths on the diagram given. Careful labelling the 1st & Last vertical lengths on your diagram, it could cost a huge amount of marks.

Video 5

Calculus/Differentiation (A short topic on paper 1 that could potentially come up with Functions & Graphs, Algebra, Number Patterns and Financial Maths in 1/2 short 30-mark questions and 1/2 long 50-mark questions)

Equation of a tangent to a curve: (know how to get the equation of a Line; note that this will be asked with Max & Min turning points)

Tangents are Lines that touch off curves and circles, only at one point of contact.

You must have the Point of Tangency (X1 , Y1) and the slope, m of the Tangent to find its Equation

*Remember that the Slope of the curve = the Slope of the Tangent at the Point of Contact [f'(x) = m @ (X1 , Y1)]

Differentiate to find the average slope f'(x) of the curve (rate of change between two variables)

Video 6

Financial Maths (Both exam papers are riddled with Money & Basic Arithmetic questions, required for college and for life skills)

Simple & Compound Interest,% Growth/Decline (Appreciation & Depreciation): (Formula: page 30 Log Tables F = P( 1 + i ) t )

It's important to know and understand what each variable means in the formula and how this relates to everyday life.

Interest earned is a gain (% Growth/Appreciation in value) on the starting sum, it is a rate of change between two variables, namely time and money. Note that you could have a question where you must place a minus sign into the formula as your worth is depreciating in value!

This formula can be used to obtain any growth or decline, even in Population, therefore it's not solely used for Financial Maths. If you have a variable rate (AER- Annual Equivalent Rate), always use t = 1 but if it's a fixed rate, then t can be any number or length of time. [i = % (Rate) so should be out of 100]

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