Here are some quick notes for Leaving Cert Accounting Exam from Accounting teacher John Taylor. Have a listen to his piece on Drivetime Study Hub and check out his bullet-point tips to help you in the exam.

Layout of Paper

  • This is a three hour paper
  • There are three sections in the paper with a total of 400 marks
  • Section 1 and 2 are on financial accounting and section 3 is on management/cost accounting
  • Section 1 is worth 120 marks or 30% and students have a choice between doing Q1 worth 120 marks or two 60 mark questions out of a possible three (Q2, 3 and 4)
  • Section 2 is worth 200 marks or 50% and students must attempt two questions worth 100 marks each out of a possible three questions (Q5, 6 and 7)
  • Section 3 is worth 80 marks or 20% and students must attempt one question from a possible two (Q8 and 9).

Covid Changes

  • Two changes have already been announced to the accounting examination

    1) There will be two options given in question 1. Traditionally students would be asked in question 1 to prepare the final accounts of either a sole trader, a limited company or manufacturing company.
    In 2021, students will be given two of these options from which they must do one. In effect this means that students could leave out one of the three options and still be guaranteed that at least one if not both of the formats they studied will definitely be asked. This could reduce the workload for students who may be struggling somewhat due to the time lost.

    2) Question 5 on the paper will definitely be on ratio calculations and the interpretation and analysis of accounts. Now students may not think is a big concession since this area has been question 5 every year since the course was first examined in 1997 but that said it was never guaranteed but is for 2021.
  • The DES have announced that further concessions will be made and that these will take the form of a reduction in the number of questions students will have to do. Specific details relating to each subject will not be announced until the week beginning 22 March so at this stage we do not know how this will impact on the accounting paper.


  • This is a three hour paper and it will be the quickest three hours students ever experience
  • Therefore it is vitally important that students plan their time and more importantly stick to the
  • plan
  • As a guide I suggest students aim for 48 minutes for section 1, which means 48 minutes on Q1 or 24 minutes on each of the two shorter questions they do.
    80 minutes on section 2 which means 40 minutes per question. Finally I suggest student spend 32 minutes on section 3. This is a total of 160 minutes which leaves a generous 20 minutes for:

    1) Reading the paper and deciding which questions to do
    2) Deciding the order you will do the questions
    3) Final review of your answers before handing up
    4) Between 12 and 15 minutes for 2/3 minutes over-runs on a question
  • Very important that students stick to their time plan. If they are getting a bit lost and have reached the time limit – leave the question and move on to the next one. You will get far more marks for the work done on this new question than you will trying to find your way out of the one you are struggling with.
    However, if they are nearly finished than a few of the reserve minutes should be used in this situation to complete the question.


  • Accounting is a practical figure based subject and the examination paper reflects this
  • Some of the questions have a theory element and this varies depending on the questions chosen.

    Q1 – generally no theory element
    Q5 has the most theory – approximately 50%

    Remaining questions have between 10% and 13% on average
    It is vitally important that students do the theory part as it could be the difference between a H1 and a H2.
  • There are three sections in the paper with a total of 400 marks


  • Bring a working calculator with a new battery into the exam with you
  • Take care with presentation and neatness – use red biro to draw lines
  • Bring coloured highlighters with you to and use a different colour to highlight figures in your workings that will go in different accounts such as profit and loss or income and expenditure or balance sheet. This will help you to quickly identify figures that need to be taken from your workings and entered in the accounts.
  • Workings are vitally important in all questions. Do your workings first. Divide up a page in your answer book into 6 boxes and use a different box for each working calculation. Use as many pages as you need for workings to keep them neat and easy to follow.
  • Bring a correction pen – not fluid into the exam to easily change figures.


  • Q1 has a greater attraction this year due to the additional option so this is a question that students seriously consider preparing for – 30%
  • Q5 is guaranteed to be on ratio analysis and the interpretation and analysis of accounts. A total of 25% is available here with 12.5% of this from the calculation of ratios which are very easy.

A handy guide to these ratios can be downloaded HERE!

The theory answer worth a further 12.5% are very predictable

  • Section 3 – either Q8 or Q9 is limited to costing and budgeting and is worth 20%.
  • This is a total of 75% of the marks available from studying just 4 sections of the course so this should form the main focus of students preparation.

Higher v Ordinary

  • Students should make their mind up now which level they are doing and concentrate on practicing appropriate exam questions.
  • Students should not change from the level they have been preparing for on the day