Devil in the detail on exacting business paper

Higher-level exam described as ‘very detailed, requiring a lot of knowledge’

One of the topics covered was marketing coloured wellies for festivals. Photograph: Alan Betson

One of the topics covered was marketing coloured wellies for festivals. Photograph: Alan Betson


There was no margin for error on yesterday’s higher level Leaving Certificate business paper, which included exacting questions on tax returns, constructive dismissal and data protection.

Teachers applauded efforts by the examiners to set the questions within contexts that would appeal to the age group, but said that students needed to know the material very well to tackle the paper adequately.

Gerry McCarthy of De La Salle College, Macroom described the paper as “very detailed, requiring a lot of knowledge”.

“The higher level questions were set in a modern context, covering topics such as the gaming industry, marketing coloured wellies for festivals, and Google, ” he said.

The short answer section was very testing and demanded specific information on terms such as “gearing” and “fixed and variable costs”.

“These are tight topics – you have to be right or wrong,” said Gerry McCarthy.

Keith Hannigan, business teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, agreed the paper contained challenging aspects, but concluded that “this was an accessible paper, which required independent thinking from students”.

“The paper challenged students and focused on their ability to apply independent thinking rather than rote learning to their answers. In Question 1, Part C and Question 6, Part B, the word “evaluate” appeared, requiring students to give their own personal opinion on the topics under discussion.

Fresh angle
“In a departure from a previous style of question, in Question 4, Part A, students were asked how to encourage intrapreneurship (rather than to give examples or define the term). This was a fresh angle on this topic and students would have had to carefully consider their response,” he said.

Media literate students would have had an advantage on yesterday’s exam, which explored topics such as current trends in the services sector and the benefits of EU membership.

In the compulsory second section students examined a case study of a gaming company called Galaxy Games Ltd, within which they explored concepts such as corporate social responsibility and global marketing.

The third section demanded very specific syllabus knowledge on topics such as the functions of data protection commissioner and the calculation of balance of payments.

There was also a case study of an educational publishing company that is looking to get into the eBooks market.

A question on Google centred on the company’s “20 per cent time” policy which gives engineers time to develop their own projects.

Students also had to perform an income tax computation including elements such as benefit-in-kind, tax credits and the universal social charge.

More than 14,000 students took yesterday’s higher level business exam. About 3,000 took ordinary level.

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