Can you answer these HSC maths exam questions?

 

Higher School Certificate students have been left blindsided and "very upset" after facing what they described as curve balls in the mathematics exam papers.

An extra booklet for Standard maths students at the beginning of the exam befuddled some students while a bizarre extended question about crickets chirping left them utterly confused.

This year's mathematics exam was a radical departure from previous years following a syllabus shake-up and changes which meant there would be questions common to both the standard and advanced maths courses.

A multiple choice question from the 2020 HSC Standard 1 course. Source: NSW Education Standards Authority.
A multiple choice question from the 2020 HSC Standard 1 course. Source: NSW Education Standards Authority.

Normally the two courses have entirely different content but this year in a bid to make the two subjects comparable in terms of final marks students were tested on common content across both syllabuses.

Mathematical Association of NSW president Karen McDaid said according to feedback from teachers across the state, students found the last question in the standard paper about crickets agonising.

"Common questions were not well received - one in particular was a 5 mark question towards the end. Standards students found it difficult," she said.

A Multiple choice question from the 2020 HSC Standard 1 course. Source: NSW Education Standards Authority.
A Multiple choice question from the 2020 HSC Standard 1 course. Source: NSW Education Standards Authority.

That question asked students to: "calculate the number of chirps expected in a 15-second interval when the temperature is 19° Celsius. Give your answer correct to the nearest whole number".

Tutoring company Matrix Education's head of maths Oak Ukritnukun said the information within the question were decoys designed to test the very best students.

In a statement a NSW Standards Authority spokeswoman said that while the questions were difficult they were within the scope of the syllabus.

"NESA has received feedback from a number of students and parents about today's maths Standard 2 exam being difficult," the spokeswoman said.

"NESA will monitor marking of the maths Standard 2 paper very closely."

 

A multiple choice questions from the 2020 HSC Standard 1 course. Source: NSW Education Standards Authority.
A multiple choice questions from the 2020 HSC Standard 1 course. Source: NSW Education Standards Authority.

But Ms McDaid said basic things like an extra booklet provided to students surprised some students who were not expecting it.

"Concerns raised about the two booklets from the extended response - some teachers said that the second booklet threw the students as they were not expecting two booklets," she said.

"This was not part of the instructions for what students should expect in the examination.

"Some teachers are saying that their students are very upset and that the standard paper was hard."

 

A question relating to crickets from the 2020 HSC Standard 1 course. Source: NSW Education Standards Authority
A question relating to crickets from the 2020 HSC Standard 1 course. Source: NSW Education Standards Authority

Ms McDaid said advanced students were left perplexed by the first 25 questions in their exam because they did not resemble any sample practice papers provided by the NSW Standards Authority.

"The 25 common marks with advanced were not seen before in the trial papers or in the sample papers. Students are upset that they hadn't known what to expect," Ms McDaid said.

 

Originally published as Can you answer these HSC maths exam questions?


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