Leaving Cert Business: mixed views on difficulty of exam

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There were some differences of opinion among teachers about the Leaving Cert Business higher level paper.

uairi Farrell, a Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) subject representative said it was well received by students.

He thought overall, it presented “a good mix of well phrased and well-structured questions covering broad business areas such as marketing, taxation, employment legislation and the European Union”.

Mr Farrell, of Greystones Community College, Co Wicklow, said there was “a great choice on the Section A, short questions, which would have had ‘something for everyone’.”

As with all Leaving Cert papers this year , there was extra choice and fewer questions to answer and Mr Farrell said students did not experience  the “usual time pressures”.

Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) subject representative Margaret O’Brien described it as a “very straightforward paper with nothing tricky”.

She said it was a “well balanced, comprehensive test, in line with the previous Covid-adapted papers”.

Meanwhile, Imelda Mulhall, also of the ASTI, felt while there was extra choice and fewer questions to answer , there were more parts to the long questions.

While there may have been “an illusion before the exam that there would be extra time, students were under pressure to finish,” she said

On a positive note Ms Mulhall said the topics were “very relevant” , with issuessuch as remote working, GDPR and inflation, “bringing the exam right up to date”.

Keith Hannigan, The Institute of Education , Dublin felt it was “a much more challenging paper than last year”.

He thought both the short and long questions were “definitely tougher than last year” adding that in the long questions ”students really needed in depth knowledge of the entire syllabus to perform well here”.

Although he regarded Section A as “much more challenging than 2021” Mr Hannigan said every student should have been able to find four questions that suited them here.  He said, “ were some nice calculation and true or false questions, but some other questions had a lot of economics jargon with which students may not have been familiar”.

Mr Hannigan also commented that “a reduced focus on marketing questions on the paper would have disappointed students”.

Mr Farrell said the Applied Business Question (ABQ) section, often the more challenging component of the paper was described as accessible but needed careful consideration and a well-structured answering approach to be specific to identify the key areas of learning required.

He said the question was “not too text heavy which students would have liked”.

Mr Hannigan said students who had studied past papers would have been “richly rewarded “ with the ABQ section.

In Section 3, the long questions, Mr Hannigan said there were “very awkward parts” in questions 1B, about trade unions, and 4A, about consumer protection, “which ensured that if students were intending to answer two questions from Unit 1, then they really needed to know every aspect of that unit”.

He said Q4 , which had an A, B and C part, had a lot of new material in it. “Part A was on the Consumer Protection Act from 2007, but the question was asked in a new way, focusing on price regulations and misleading information about products. The other two parts of the question were standard”.

Mr Hannigan noted that, unlike last year, there were not two full length marketing questions in Section 3 Part 2, on enterprise, “which made the section more challenging”.

Ms O’Brien felt candidates  would have enjoyed  Section3, Part 2, Q5  which was on leadership styles, “a popular topic” with students.

Mr Farrell referred to the “very topical” Q6 , on working from home and the impact on the role of the HR manager. “Many students may be familiar with this, given the large volumes of employees working remotely in recent times,” he said.

He thought, overall, the “massive changes facing businesses in today’s climate were well encapsulated in the paper with a focus on businesses having to adapt to changing circumstances. The questions that featured examined students on trends current impacting businesses, the necessity to move to the online space and role of the government in creating a positive climate for business.

“These areas would have presented students with an opportunity to showcase their knowledge as they would have been discussed at length in classrooms, given the impact of Covid 19, Brexit and inflation would have been familiar territory for students.”

In relation to the ordinary level paper, Mr Farrell said it presented a wide variety of choice. While this was very much welcomed by students across the board, he said it would have provided “an additional challenge in question selection as students had to reflect on many questions before finalising those they are best placed to answer”.

He said reference was made to prominent companies that students would be familiar with such as Cadbury, Aldi, Glenisk and Kellogg’s and this would have put students at ease.

But he added that “there were some challenging questions however for the ordinary level student such as wage calculations with commission and corporation tax.

He thought Q5, which a business in Mayo, based on a sustainable business model, which has gone viral on Tik Tok, “was a lovely way to examine enterprise characteristics and risks and rewards for entrepreneurs”.

Similar to her views on  higher level, rhe ASTI’s Ms Mulhall, of Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, Bantry, Co Cork, also thought the ordinary level paper was challenging, timewise,

She added that the question on of the law of contract on this paper would be more likely at higher level, and she thought it was challenging for ordinary level candidates.



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