Leaving Cert Business: topical and broad

From emigration to banking, real-world case studies bring life to the exam


The work of Labour Relations Commission, data protection and lending for small business were just three of the subjects raised on a very topical Leaving Certificate business exam. In what was described as a wide-ranging paper, students were pleased with the number of real-world case studies that brought life and colour to the exam.

“Students would need to have been familiar with ALL aspects of the course. If they left out chapters in their revision they would have been in trouble,” said Keith Hannigan, business teacher at the Institute of Education.

There was praise from students and teachers for an applied business question about a Donegal native who moved to Australia for work and, while there, discovered a business opportunity back home.

Margo McGann of St Augustan’s College Dungarvan said the question would resonate with many students who may be facing emigration when they leave school.

“The compulsory applied business question for 80 marks, was very interesting and student friendly, A lot of thought went into it.”

“This was a terrific question about an Irish immigrant who returns to Ireland and sets up a surf shop. It was very straightforward and focused on entrepreneur skills and the management activity of controlling,” said Keith Hannigan.

Overall Margo McGann agreed there was plenty to do in this paper. “It was a very specific paper where there was very detailed knowledge required. In Section 1 students were asked to explain a number of acronyms such as FDI and ECB. This would have been quite difficult for some students.”

“Question 3, Part b would also have posed difficulty. It covered the legislative process within the EU and again it was very detailed. It may have deterred some students and limited their choice in that section.”

The break even chart was presented in an unusual format, said Margo McGann, who also said students may have been surprised and disappointed that the calculations style questions offered lower than usual marks.

Joan Martin of the Business Studies Teachers Association welcomed the practical content in the exam and noted it had some challenging aspects.

Just under 3000 students took the subject at ordinary level. Some of the shorter questions were more difficult than previous years at this level, said teachers.

Almost 17,000 students take Business for the Leaving Cert, with an even representation of male and female students. Uptake of the subject has increased in recent years, owing to the very practical nature of the syllabus. Despite the fact that the business syllabus has not been reviewed in 15 years, the subject matter is regarded as topical.