Leaving Cert accountancy: ‘Fair’ and wide-ranging test

Students quizzed on costing projects and preparing budgets in challenging exam

Most teachers said the Leaving Cert accounting exam was a fair test of students’ knowledge. Photograph: Getty Images

Most teachers said the Leaving Cert accounting exam was a fair test of students’ knowledge. Photograph: Getty Images


Leaving Cert accountancy students faced a thorough test of their ability to analyse transactions, cost proposed projects and prepare budgets in this afternoon’s exam.

Most teachers said it was a fair test of students’ knowledge, with some challenging questions.

“Any students who had the course well covered were able to avoid a few potholes along the way,” said Eamon Scully, an accounting teacher at Maria Immaculata Community College in Dunmanway, Co Cork.

“Most questions were very manageable, but one or two were fairly tricky and would have posed a real challenge,” said Mr Scully, an ASTI subject representative.

Ray O’Loughlin, an accounting teacher at The Institute of Education, also said it was generally a fair test.

However, he said the appearance of manufacturing accounts in question one – for the fourth time in eight years – may have surprised many students.

He said many tend to find this a “long and demanding” question, while the wording of adjustments on “back-dated wage increase” and “rent due” was a bit unclear and may have thrown some students.

He said section two – which accounts for 50 per cent of all the marks on the paper – is usually the most demanding section.

“However. this year it was very straightforward. There were questions on interpretation of accounts, published accounts and correction of errors,” he said.

The representative body for chartered accountants, meanwhile, said the syllabus for accounting is outdated and does not reflect the skillset required within the profession.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants said the course “urgently” needs an extensive overhaul to ensure it is “fit for purpose”.

In a statement, it said both syllabus and exam approach did not reflect the skillset required within the profession nor instil learnings of the role of an accountant.

Stephen O’Flaherty, the association’s chairman, said the overall aim of the Leaving Cert exam needed to focus on areas more appropriate to pupils living in a small open economy, such as business and entrepreneurial skills.

“The accounting syllabus as presented is more representative of bookkeeping and it does not consider the activities of a modern accountant,” he said.

“Accounting is about much more than simply processing financial figures, it is taking the information produced by bookkeepers and technicians and using that information to make business decisions that influence the strategic development of an organisation.

“If we want our pupils to make informed university and career choices and instil critical thinking, then that must be reflected both within the Leaving Certificate syllabus and exam paper.”

However, Mr Scully said it was important to ensure students first have the ability to prepare accounts before analysing them.

He said some parts of the course did place a heavy emphasis on analysis and that, overall, it gave students a good grounding for studying a business-related degree in college.