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CBA 1 Information & Guide

In 2nd Year, Junior Cycle students are expected to complete their first Classroom Based Assessment (CBA) in maths.
On this page, we will detail what this CBA is, how to approach it and how it will be assessed.
Additionally, members gain access to examples of completed CBAs.

Note: Any statement in quotation marks below is taken from the official guidelines.

2023/24: Current 3rd Years are only required to complete a minimum of one CBA. Details here.

What are CBAs?

In total, Junior Cycle Maths students are officially assessed in four different ways:

  • Classroom Based Assessment 1 (CBA 1) (2nd Year)
  • Classroom Based Assessment 2 (CBA 2) (3rd Year)
  • Assessment Task (AT) (3rd Year)
  • Final Examination (3rd Year)

Only the last two count towards the actual final grade of each student – 10% for the assessment task and 90% for the final examination.

The primary purpose of both CBAs, on the other hand, is to build up an understanding of the ability of each student. This information is beneficial to teachers, parents/guardians and the students themselves as it provides information as to how closely their expected level of achievement will match with their actual level of achievement.

What is CBA 1?

CBA 1 involves creating a report about a mathematical investigation.

Specifically, the description of this CBA is as follows:

“A student will, over a three-week period, follow the problem-solving cycle to investigate a mathematical problem.”

What is the “problem-solving cycle”?

The problem-solving cycle is composed of the following four parts:

1) Define a problem. This problem should be “about some phenomena of interest from the world around them or that they have come across in the course of their mathematical studies or their studies in other subjects”. Examples of such problems are show in the next section below.

2) Plan a strategy. Students should “interpret what is needed to solve the problem so that they can determine how to find the answer.”

3) Use that strategy. Students should “use a mathematical technique to get a solution to the problem.”

4) Interpret your findings. Students should “critically discuss and record various aspects of their investigation, such as the design of the experiment and possible improvements, the limitations of their data, any possible theoretical or practical implications of their findings, and further related investigations that they might conduct and why”.

What are some examples of what I could write about?
  • If the main road from my house to school was closed for construction, what alternative route should I take?
  • I want to build a new kennel from scratch for my dog but have a budget of €50. Is it possible?
  • How long would it take to repaint every classroom in the school?
  • My dream is to travel to every country in Europe when I’m older. How cheaply can that be done?

Important: We strongly discourage students from using any of the examples above and instead recommend creating their own mathematical investigation based on their own interests!

What format do I write my CBA in?

It can “be presented in a wide range of formats.”, including a written report, a poster etc.

On the next page, we provide a template for those students who wish to present their CBA in the form of a written report.

What possible grades can I receive?

There are four different levels of achievement: 

  • Exceptional
  • Above expectations
  • In line with expectations
  • Yet to meet expectations
How is my grade determined?

This will depend on how well you do in each section of the problem-solving cycle discussed earlier.

This is outlined in detail below.

Section Indicative Content

Define a problem

  • Exceptional: "Poses a concise problem statement and clarifies and simplifies the problem by making justified assumptions, where appropriate"
  • Above expectations: "With limited guidance poses a problem statement and clarifies/simplifies the problem by making reasonable assumptions, where appropriate"
  • In line with expectations: "With guidance poses a problem statement, breaks the problem down into manageable steps and simplifies the problem by making assumptions, if appropriate"
  • Yet to meet expectations: "Uses a given problem statement and with guidance breaks the problem down into steps"

Plan a strategy

  • Exceptional: "Develops an efficient justified strategy and evaluates progress towards a
    solution where appropriate; conjectures relationship between variables where appropriate"
  • Above expectations: "Justifies the use of a suitable strategy to engage with the problem and identifies any relevant variables"
  • In line with expectations: "Chooses an appropriate strategy to engage with the problem "
  • Yet to meet expectations: "Uses a given strategy"

Use that strategy

  • Exceptional: "Mathematical procedures are followed with a high level of precision, and
    a justified answer is achieved; solution/observations are generalised and extended to other situations where appropriate"
  • Above expectations: "Records observations/data systematically, suitable mathematical procedures are followed, and accurate mathematical language, symbolic notation and visual representations are used; attempts are made to generalise any observed patterns in the solution/observation"
  • In line with expectations: "Records observations/data and follows suitable mathematical procedures with minor errors; graphs and/or diagrams/ words are used to provide insights into the problem and/or solution"
  • Yet to meet expectations: "Records some observations/data and follows some basic
    mathematical procedures"

Interpret your findings

  • Exceptional: "Deductive arguments used and precise mathematical language and
    symbolic notation used to consolidate mathematical thinking and justify decisions and solutions; strengths and/ or weaknesses in the mathematical representation/ solution strategy are identified"
  • Above expectations: "Checks reasonableness of solution and revisits assumptions and /or strategy to iterate the process, if necessary, uses formal mathematical language to communicate ideas and identifies what worked well and what could be improved"
  • In line with expectations: "Comments on the reasonableness of the solution where appropriate and makes a concrete connection to the original question, uses everyday familiar language to communicate ideas"
  • Yet to meet expectations: "Comments on any solution"
Do I have to type up my report?

Not at all! You are not being assessed on your ability to use a computer.

Likewise, you do not need to use fancy programs to create diagrams etc.

You are free to write your report on paper and draw any diagrams using pens, pencils, rulers etc. You will not receive less marks for using that approach.

What’s more important is that you labels those diagrams correctly!

Who grades my CBA?

Both CBA 1 & CBA 2 are graded by your teacher.

The assessment task (AT), on the other hand, will be graded by the State Examinations Commission (SEC), the same body that grades your final examination!

Are there any other important things that I should know?


Here are a collection of other points from the official guidelines that we feel are important to consider:

  • “[The CBAs] are assessed at a Common Level.”
  • “Students may collaborate with peers at various stages during the process and then compile a report of their findings individually.”
  • “Each student must contribute to the work of the group.”
  • “Students can decide to choose a problem from within mathematics or seek to answer a question or shed some light on a phenomenon from another subject or the world around them.”
  • “[Students] may also find it necessary to make certain assumptions that help to simplify the problem and sharpen the focus.”
  • “Multiple approaches can be taken to build a solution…”
  • “Would a graph or other visual representation help provide insight?”
  • “Students must work individually to compile the report of their investigation…”
  • “If a typed or hand-written report is the format of their choice, the total length of the report would typically be in the 400-600 words range (excluding tables, graphs, reference list and research records), but this should not be regarded as a rigid requirement.”
Do you have any sample CBAs that I can look through?

Yes! Members gain access to all of our sample CBAs on the next few pages that you can use as inspiration.