Gaga and Obama make the grade

Junior Cert Business Studies: Students get down to the business of how Lady Gaga likes her steak

RAW RAW RAW RAW: Lady Gaga options for how she likes her steak. Photograph: Alan Betson

RAW RAW RAW RAW: Lady Gaga options for how she likes her steak. Photograph: Alan Betson


Future skills, the knowledge economy, enterprise and dynamism? Whatever.

Here’s what really matters: what does Lady Gaga think of Ireland’s Junior Cert business studies exam? And, more importantly, how does she like her steak?

Across Ireland, the 27,052 students sitting yesterday’s higher level paper – more than half of the total number of Junior Cert students – burst into fits of giggles when confronted with a question asking them to identify three types of communications used in business.

The first type of communication was an old-fashioned device known as a telephone – a landline, to be more precise – ably modelled by telephone holder and US president Barack Obama.

Lady Gaga
Also in the line-up, an internal company memo: YAWN, said tens of thousands of students, while developing immediate and temporary narcolepsy in the absence of anybody remotely famous.

And third, a pie chart posing the great question of our times: how does Lady Gaga like her steak, with four possible answers: Well done, rare, medium rare, or RAW RAW RAW RAW.

It was a very welcome piece of light relief for students facing a long day, with two business studies papers taking 5½ hours.

However, while there were laughs, these were muted beside the sighs of relief most students will have felt at a fair and familiar paper, according to Padraig McWeeny, TUI representative and business studies teacher at St Mel’s in Longford.

“A lot of the questions focused heavily on life skills and the type of issues that students will need to be familiar with long after they have left school,” he said.

Personal finance
The first of the higher level papers, which focuses on personal finance, asked students to compare household budget figures with actual cash expenditure.

Other questions focused on insurance, with candidates required to fill out claim forms for stolen iPads and outline the different types of premiums.

Higher level paper 2, as is traditional, looked more closely at business, with the usual questions on bookkeeping, credit and bank transactions. Mr McWeeney said question four, on accounts and balance, may have challenged some of the weaker students.

On the ordinary level paper, students were asked to explain whether food, iPads and holidays were needs or wants.

A household budget question was straightforward and should not have posed any problem to students who had practised, said Mr McWeeney.

A total of 7,151 students took the ordinary level business studies paper.

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