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Time marches on

Val Thomson, head of maths at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen, feels this year's Advanced Higher maths paper was a lot better than last year's for two main reasons: it covered the whole syllabus much better than last year, and the first few questions were very accessible, progressing in difficulty to the last two questions which were very challenging.

In section A of the statistics paper, the questions were well structured, in many cases leading candidates through the steps. The last question was quite challenging, but should be very good for identifying pupils with a deeper understanding of modelling and statistical methods. The main problem, however, was that all the questions were "very wordy".

"Many candidates, including some able statisticians, would struggle to complete the paper in time, as a result of needing to keep reading the information," she says.

The mechanics paper was very accessible, she says. The last question in section A (on gravitation) was "slightly out-of-the ordinary", but not challenging and appeared to award a large number of marks for little working.

The questions on topics which candidates generally find difficult (circular motion and simple harmonic motion) were easier than in previous years, with one of the questions on circular motion broken down into small sections, with a small number of marks allocated to each.

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