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Leaving Cert Study Guide: Business

Leaving Cert Business is a vast course of 27 chapters divided into seven units. There is no magic formula when it comes to studying and learning the material. However, the basic knowledge and course facts are essential for any student.

We will look at the exam paper through the three separate sections.


There are 10 questions and eight must be answered and they are taken from all units of the course.

Last year's exam proved that omitting units 6 and 7 is a dangerous strategy as four questions appeared from these sections. It is advisable to treat each five-mark portion as needing two pieces of information and not just a basic phrase or point. Four pieces of information are needed for a full 10 marks. Using the following examples:

It is current assets minus current liabilities (two marks).

Equity Capital refers to the funds put in by the owners (three marks).

It consists of ordinary share capital and retained earnings (two marks).

It is a contract element that needs acceptance in order to form an agreement (two marks).

An invitation to treat invites a person to make an offer to buy but is not necessarily an offer for sale (three marks).

It usually affects goods on display on a shelf (two marks).

> A general rule here is to opt for more information rather than less (as 35 minutes is allowed) and attempt all 10 questions.

Applied Business Question

Compulsory Section -- 80 marks (20pc)

In Leaving Cert 2011, students will be examined on Units 3, 4 and 5.

In line with previous trends, it is advisable to concentrate on particular Higher Level areas.

The Applied Business Question needs practice and should be written in 36 minutes. A few basic guidelines should be followed:

There are three questions based on a given passage.

You must (i) state your point, (ii) expand the point and (iii) relate it to the text.


Expect to be asked to "evaluate" management skills or management activities from the passage. Define the skill or activity, give a brief explanation of it, analyse it in the text, offer methods of improvement and relate it to the text.

In last year's exam, students mixed up the management skills and the management activities.

  • SKILLS = Leading, Communicating and Motivating.

  • ACTIVITIES = Planning, Organising and Controlling.

> NB: Students should read the three questions and note the allocation of marks before reading the text

20 marks = eight minutes

30 marks = 12 minutes

40 marks = 16 minutes

Allow four minutes to read the passage.

Answers should be planned and relevant course material jotted down in a roughwork section, eg listing human resources functions or the six ratios.

Do as many sample questions as possible before the Mocks as this will reduce the pressure later.

60 Mark Questions

Many students have time management problems on the day caused by writing far too much detail on favoured questions. Students with concise, quality answers that cover the specific questions asked fare better.

Students who answer under headings with relevant explanations do much better.

Being able to EVALUATE is a must at Higher Level.

It means that an opinion is required and it is advisable to give two pieces of information within that evaluation:

In my opinion it reduces conflict in Irish workplaces (two marks).

It provides a range of services that help to mediate and find an acceptable solution to a conflict situation (three marks).

These past questions show the standard that is required.

Answer plan: Two clear definitions of cooperative and competitive relationships are needed but must be linked to "two producers in the same line of business".

Answer: A co-operative relationship is one where joint action or effort is required to enable people to work and operate together so that everybody will benefit (two marks).

It is a winner-winner relationship (three marks).

Example: Two meat producers lobbying the European Parliament to tighten up the laws governing the source of non-EU meat (three marks).

A competitive relationship means that the parties are on different sides or have different objectives or are directly competing with each other (two marks).

They compete on a basis of price, quality and labour. It is a winner-loser relationship (two marks).

Example: One frozen foods producer cuts prices by 20pc as a means of gaining market share from its main rival (three marks).

> Note: The question is specifically asking you to give an example.

Answer plan: A straightforward question but all points must be explained to obtain full marks. For 25 marks, it is fair to expect that three points from the act and two remedies are needed.

Answer: (i) The circumstances under which the retailers are in breach of the Act are:

1) It states that goods must be of merchantable quality (two marks). This means that goods must be of a minimum adequate standard as deemed by a reasonable person, eg a hot water bottle should not leak (three marks).

2) It states that goods must be fit for the purpose required (two marks). This means that if the consumer relies on the retailer/assistant for help or expertise on choosing the correct product the advice should be correct, eg choosing paint for the interior versus for the exterior (three marks).

3) It makes specific provisions for services (two marks). The consumer is protected as the service provider should (i) have the skill; (ii) use it with due care; (iii) use materials which should be of merchantable quality (three marks).

(ii) Remedies for breach of the Act:

Full cash refund (two marks).

If there is a problem with the goods and the customer acts promptly and with proof of purchase then they are entitled to a cash refund in full (three marks).

Part refund or repair (two marks).

If the goods have been used or if there has been a delay then only a part refund or repair of the goods is needed (three marks).

Answer plan: It is important to know specific examples in this section.

Answer: 1) Directive: The EU specifies what has to be done but leaves its implementation up to the individual member states eg EU Waste Management directive (five marks).

2) Regulation: These have immediate effect, eg an EU regulation that prevents airlines from leaving passengers stranded through overbooking. (five marks).

The purpose of the waste management directive is to reduce the volumes of waste going straight to landfill throughout the EU and the plastic bag levy was part of the Irish Government response (five marks).

Philip Curry has taught and prepared students for the Higher Level course for 17 years. He is the author of the revision book A Question of Business.