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Revising for Leaving Cert Higher Level Maths

Is Leaving Cert higher level maths hard?

For a lot of students, leaving certificate maths is their toughest subject. Higher-level maths is will probably require the most attention and you should allocate the more time in your study timetable to it if you want to succeed. There will be reward for your effort. In 2012 the government brought in a scheme to try and attract more student to higher-level maths. For any student that sits the higher level maths exam and achieves a grade above H6 will receive 25 points extra (compared to other subjects). This bonus scheme has worked in that more students are sitting the higher maths paper and those that do receive the bonus points are more likely to receive a college place.

How do I pass the Leaving Cert Maths?

Whether you are a top higher-level student aiming for a H1 or a struggling ordinary level student just looking for the best grade you possible, these guidelines will help you maximize your maths study.

A lot of the advice will appear to be just common sense. And it is. If you can get the simple things right, it will make your studying and exam preparation that bit easier.

Go to class

Woody Allen had a great quote about how he realised that “80% of success is showing up”.

You must be present in class. Continuously missing classes leads to falling behind. You are in the same boat as everyone else. If you do miss a class, then you have got to double-down and catch up. Get the notes and any other relevant work from the class and go through it. It is much easier to keep on top of your work and it is easier to retain small amounts information at a time. Falling behind means you will have less time to retain the information.

For whatever reason, if you do miss a lot of classes and you are serious about getting the best possible result in maths, you should consider grinds. Do not wait until later in the year or just before the exams. 

Listen in class. 

If 80% of success is showing up in class, then listening must be the other 20%. You could even say listening as important.

If you listen, you will understand what is being explained. Even better though if you listen you will know when you do not understand something. When you are stuck ask questions. The best classes I have had are those with plenty of questions and student interaction. Listen closely when others ask questions too. 

You must do your homework.

Homework is vital. 

If you want to find out more about some skills that will help with homework and revision, check out our blog – What study skills do secondary school students need?

Split homework into two sections every day after school.

Firstly, revise the work that was done in class that day. Use debate cards to write out exactly what you need to know. Keep the information simple and precise. I have seen people use debate cards and the just write out everything that they did in class again.

When revising it is essential to know:

  • Words – meaning of different words and phrases. Must be done.
  • Formulae. Not a huge amount but must be done
  • Methods – That is the hard part. Need to practice a lot.

Secondly, after doing revision then move onto the written homework given by the teacher

A good way to approach the written homework is to try and recreate the exam setting. Always try and do this work with NO notes and NO help. If you can fully understand what the question is and how to answer it without notes or study aides, then that is a good sign. The best way to learn with maths is to do questions. 

Regardless of the level exam you sit for maths, there is only one way to get good at answering questions… Practise. Practise. Practise.

Should I take higher-level maths in the leaving cert?

The only person that can answer this question is you.


You have gone through 5th and you now fall into one of four groups

  1. You are doing higher level and have no real issues. You find it difficult, but you are keeping up. Just need to keep working hard. Keep going!
  2. You are doing higher level and struggling. You have not made your mind up yet what level you should be at. You know if you put more effort in you could get H4-H5. Keep going!
  3. You have done no work in 5th year and you feel bad. But you know you could sit at higher level exam and do well. Simple, work harder and do it well. Go for it!
  4. You stuck at higher level in 5th year but really struggled. You could try and go full throttle until Christmas and see how you get on. But if you do not understand the stuff drop down a level. Put the time into your other subjects.

If you recognise yourself in one of these groups, you now know what to do.

If you think your struggle is bigger than any of these then you probably know the answer.

Leaving certificate ordinary level maths

If you were in higher level maths and dropped down, that is fine. If you are comfortable and happy with that decision, it was the right one. To get an O1-O2 will still require studying and lots of effort. You will still need to listen in class and do your homework properly. If you take the same approach as I have outlined above, and you should be fine.

As a final thought, one thing that can be often overlooked is confidence. I believe the maths exam is about confidence. You should set a goal for yourself and work toward that goal. Be confident in yourself and no matter what, tackle a question with confidence, get all you know down on the page and show your work in tackling the problem even if you are wrong. This will always be better than leaving a blank space. You can get marks for trying.

If you’d like to find out more about the maths grinds we offer at revise.ie, check out our timetable.