In October 2021, we learned that a majority (56) of NI grammar schools have agreed on a new common transfer test run by an organisation called SEAG, or Schools’ Entrance Assessment Group. The single test will replace the dual tests, which have been run by the AQE and PPTC since the end of the Eleven Plus exam in 2008. We understand that SEAG is not related to AQE or PPTC, but a fresh organisation set up specifically to deal with the problem of dual testing organisations.

We understand that the first SEAG cohort will set their transfer test in November 2023.

SEAG have so far said little, but they have revealed the new assessment will consist of two tests comprising English and mathematics items. It seems that the tests will be sat on separate dates – probably two weeks apart. There will be a mixture of multiple choice and free response (supply) items.

Irish-language versions of the transfer test will also be provided, with parents asked to pay a £20 entry fee, though there would be no charge for pupils who qualify for free school meals.

The list of member schools hasn’t been made public yet, and crucially, the number of member schools falls a little short of the combined number of AQE & PPTC schools, implying that some schools are yet to decide on their best way forward. Support does, however, look balanced between current AQE and PPTC schools with 25 and 27 respectively from each camp and four schools who currently accept either test. We understand that eighteen of the schools are located in the greater Belfast area and the other 38 are spread across Northern Ireland.

More details should be released after the 2021 exams are concluded and schools’ focus turns to future years. Be sure to join our 2023 parents’ list if you would like to hear updates as they appear.