Guide to the Transfer Tests

Prepare for the elevenplus exam

The Transfer Test has replaced the government organised Eleven Plus Exam and is now organised by two separate companies - most schools accept only one version of the test results, a small number of schools accept either result. The onus is on parents to register their child for the correct test or tests.

AQE (Association of Quality Education)

Association of Quality Education (AQE Ltd) is the company formed to manage and administer the AQE test, also known as the Common Entrance Assessment (CEA), which is used for grammar school selection of pupils moving from primary school to a number of post primary grammar schools.  A full list of participating AQE Grammar Schools who use the AQE Transfer Test is available under the ‘AQE schools’ section of this website. AQE Ltd is based in Belfast.

AQE scores explained and AQE test explained.

What is the format of the AQE test?
The AQE test (also called the CEA test) is based on three one-hour assessments which take account of the English and Maths components of the present primary school curriculum.

Does my child have to sit all three assessments?
No. The result is taken from the best two scores, so only two assessments have to be sat. However, AQE strongly recommend that candidates take advantage of the option to sit all three papers, and the vast majority of candidates do so.

What is included in the assessments?
Each paper has 58 questions counting for 64 marks. There are 32 marks for English and 32 marks for Maths.

How are the AQE tests marked and scored?
The papers are marked over a twelve day period at two marking centres. Each paper is marked three times and there is a Quality Control Process which keeps a check on the system. In addition a further 20% of papers is marked again, and a further 20% is totalled again. In the AQE Office, all papers are totalled for a final time. The result is given as a standardised score, a whole number between 55 and 145, with a mean (average) of 100. The highest AQE score in 2016 was 128. Grades are not be used.

What is an age standardised score?
There could be almost 1 calendar year between the oldest and youngest child in any school year so an age standardised score takes this into account so that no child is disadvantaged because of their age. AQE have had a computer programme developed specifically for the company which calulates this age allowance. For each test, pupils are assigned to groups according to their age, calculated to the nearest month. This ensures that, for each paper, pupils are only compared with pupils of the same age and to the nearest month. A pupil who takes all 3 tests will have three age-standardised scores (one for each paper). The average of the best two scores is computed for each pupil. For pupils who take only two papers, the average of these two scores is computed.

GL Assessments (PPTCNI Post Primary Transfer Consortium.)

This consortium represent a group of 34 PPTC schools (Click here to see the list).  These schools all use the same Entrance Assessment as part of the selection criteria for admission into year 8. This test is used mostly by grammar schools with a strong Catholic ethos but these schools are amongst those schools that will accept the results from either test. 

GL scores explained and GL assessment explained.

What is the format of the GL Assessment?
The GL Assessment consists of two standardised assessment papers taken in November each year. The tests are in multiple choice format (the child selects an answer from a number of possible answers and usually marks this on a separate answer sheet.) as opposed to answering in the standard way of writing their answer in a space. There is a Supplementary Entrance Assessment in December for children who may have missed the original test through for example illness. The Supplementary assessment is only held at specified regional Assessment Centres and not all of the original test centres are used.

What is included in the assessments?
The first paper, testing English lasts 50 minutes and the second paper, assessing Mathematics lasts 45 minutes. The aspects of English and Mathematics covered by the GL Assessment are consistent with the requirements of the Northern Ireland Key Stage 2 curriculum. Both papers are taken on the same day and there is a short practice session before each of the papers and, between the papers, the children will have time for a snack and a toilet break.

How are the GL assessment tests marked and scored?
The children record their answers on a separate computer marked answer sheet.The completed papers are marked independently by GL Assessment, who set the test and are based in England. The tests are all standardised and designed to ensure that each set of papers will produce the same outcomes for any given child. The Supplementary GL Assessment is developed to the same rigorous and consistent high standards and should not be any easier than the original tests.

As with previous Transfer Tests, children receive a GL Transfer test grade, i.e. A, B1, B2, C1, C2 or D. You will also receive the Standardised Age Score achieved by your child in both the English and Mathematics assessment papers. The grades will be allocated on the basis of the combined total of the Standardised Age Scores and will have a scale running from 69 to 141 with 100 as the mean (average). In calculating the Standardised Age Score, the age of the child is taken into account but no child will lose marks because of his/her age.


 ** This information may change and is provided for guidance only and while the content is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate we cannot be held in any way responsible for any errors or omissions that it may contain. Please contact your  examining board or chosen grammar school for all admission and registration details for the Transfer Test. **