Maths complaints just don’t add up

27th May 2016 at 00:00

There has been uproar over the difficulty of paper one of the National 5 maths exam. One of the online petitions claims it was “catastrophic”; another, that there was unseen content. I don’t agree.

I think this is the best N5 paper SQA has written since the new qualifications were introduced. There was an appropriate level of challenge for all candidates to shine or at the least to demonstrate what they were capable of.

The challenging questions that pupils are complaining about are all on content included in the National 5 syllabus, so the pupils should have been prepared for questions even on the new topics.

What this really highlights for me is that students rely too much on past paper questions and don’t get themselves in a position where they really know and understand the content. This is only the third year of National 5; if you are solely relying on past papers, you are setting yourself up for a disaster – the scope of questions just isn’t available in the material.

As a teacher moving on with my class to teach Higher, I can now be certain after that exam that the pupils sitting in front of me know and understand the content at National 5 and are therefore ready for Higher.

Fiona Philips

Maths teacher, Alness Academy, Alness, Highland

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