Short Guide to Second-level Maths

This page is provided as a service to academics teaching at third level (undergraduate level in universities, institutes of technology, PLC courses, etc) in Ireland and tries to provide accurate links to current documents of the Mathematics syllabi at second level.

If you are teaching courses that use mathematics the IMS considers it important that you stay informed on current syllabi. Major revisions have taken place in Mathematics syllabi in the sixties, seventies, nineties, and more recently. It is not safe to assume that your undergraduate students have met the same material as you did when you were in school.

The Irish secondary school program is five or six years, with an exam in the third year (for the Junior Certificate) and an exam in the final year (for the Leaving Certificate).

Mathematics is taught at three levels at secondary, which are subsets of one another: Foundation, Ordinary and Higher Level.

Maths Syllabus

The national syllabi for all subjects at primary and second-level are written and revised by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the NCCA. Main website:

A revision of the secondary Mathematics syllabus began in 2012 on a phased basis of mathematical topics, with the roll-out completed in 2017 (2018 for students who participated in an optional Transition Year). The NCCA project that resulted in this syllabus was named "Project Maths", a phrase which was attached to the revised syllabus. (Thus PM is not a kind of mathematics, it is a kind of administrative action. The name has led to the misconception that the curriculum is centred on 'project work'.) Now, on completion of the roll-out, the syllabus is simply referred to as 'Mathematics' in all curriculum and assessment documents.

There is a great deal of detail on the NCCA website, and it can be tiresome to navigate. For Mathematics, the key documents that specify the current syllabus for all levels are available on the sites
and specifically at

When rolling out PM, the NCCA made presentations to interested academics, in order to help them understand the changes involved. Here are links to the presentation slides:

NCCA presentation on PM- Microsoft Powerpoint Presentation

NCCA presentation on PM- Open Document Presentation

It may be important to note that these links are likely to change as the syllabi may evolve and we hope to maintain any updates as they arise.

LC and JC Maths Examinations

Assessment in the high-stakes Leaving Certificate exam drives teaching practice in most classrooms, so it is useful to look over the examinations taken by your students.

State examinations are set and marked under the direction of the State Examinations Commission:

To view recent examination papers, choose "Examination Material Archive" -> click the tickbox -> Choose "Exam Papers" -> Choose the year -> Choose LC or JC. They also have the marking schemes and Irish versions.

David Malone and Hazel Murray maintain an "Archive of past exam papers in Mathematics. that includes maths, applied maths, physics, chemistry, technical drawing and science.

We want the information on this page to be accurate and up-to-date. Please send any corrections to: IMS Page on Second-Level Maths, Maths+Stats, Maynooth University, Co Kildare W23 HW31.

Revised 7-Jan-2018.
  • Last modified:  27 September 2021 (14:52)
  • Created by Richard M. Timoney. Maintained by MM
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