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See our new 2023 SEAG Practice Papers here

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.

Update – 13 December, 2021

Today, the BBC reported that Michael Carville, principal of Regent House in Newtownards has been appointed as the chairperson of SEAG. In a statement, he reiterated that the first test is due to be held in November 2023 and will end the current system of separate AQE and PPTC tests.

He also confirmed that the tests will be supplied by GL Assessment, who currently produce the current PPTC tests.

The first common test papers will be held on the second and fourth Saturdays in November 2023, Mr Carville said.

Update – March, 2022

Various local papers have reported that Stormont’s Education Committee recently heard from the Education minister in relation to the 2023 transfer test. A letter from Michelle McIlveen was read to committee members where it was revealed that a total of 57 schools have signed up.

Ms McIlveen said her officials had recently met with Michael Carville, chair of SEAG, “to get an update on progress in relation to the 2023 assessment”.

She said that SEAG was “formally established in February 2022 to oversee a single common entrance assessment” and at the time of the meeting, “57 selective schools had signed up to join the group”.

The DUP minister also said it is “envisaged that the common transfer tests will replace the current system run by AQE and PPTC and the November 2022 tests run by AQE and PPTC are likely to be the last before that replacement”.

“The new testing format will consist of two papers held on two Saturdays, two weeks apart, provisionally scheduled for Saturday November 12 2023 and Saturday Nov 26 2023,” the committee heard.

“Both tests will contribute to candidates score rather than the best two of three, in the current AQE format.”

Ms McIlveen also confirmed that the tests “will be based entirely on the Key Stage 2 curriculum and therefore will reflect the literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills that children are being taught at school”.

“Each paper will feature English and Maths questions – there will be a mixture of multiple choice and open questions.”

The letter also stated that “SEAG has advised that following a competitive tender process, GL Assesment Ltd in England have been awarded a three-year contract to provide the test, staff have been appointed locally to oversee the administration”.

Committee chair Chris Lyttle said it was “helpful information that I don’t think is particularly public at this moment in time”.

Update – April, 2022

There is still no confirmation of exactly which 57 NI grammar schools have signed up to SEAG, but in a recent BBC news article, the directors of the new company were named. They are the principals of;

  • Regent House Grammar School,
  • Our Lady and St Patrick’s College Knock,
  • Royal School Dungannon,
  • Campbell College,
  • Foyle College,
  • Down High School,
  • Dominican College Belfast and
  • Victoria College Belfast.

It would make sense, therefore, to conclude that those schools are planning to adopt the new test from 2023.

Update – July, 2022

The Belfast Telegraph recently reported that “Parents in Northern Ireland still in the dark over schools’ single transfer test plans”. The article reports that uncertainty over the new test remains as Education Minister Michelle McIlveen recently revealed that no official SEAG practice papers would be available ahead of its introduction.

In a response to a series of questions posed by a parents’ group, Michael Carville, principal at Regent House Grammar School in Newtownards and chair of the SEAG, said the organisation “will endeavour to make information available to all parents, and other stakeholders, in a timely and open manner in the coming months”.

Ms McIlveen confirmed that, “Following a competitive tender process, GL Assessment Ltd in England has been awarded a three-year contract to provide the test. Staff have been appointed locally to oversee the administration.

“The new testing format will consist of two papers, held on two Saturdays two weeks apart, provisionally scheduled for November 12 and November 26, 2023.

“Both test [papers] will contribute to candidates’ scores. I have been advised that the test [papers] will focus on the literacy and numeracy content of the curriculum at Key Stage 2. There will be a mixture of multiple-choice and open questions,” she said.

“In terms of preparation for the test, I am advised that, as the test is still being developed, practice papers will not be available to schools, parents and pupils.

Update – October, 2022

The new single transfer test organisation, SEAG, have finally launched their website at https://seagni.co.uk/

On the website, they have published some guidance about the style of test that we can expect in 2023.


The Entrance Assessment consists of two papers – pupils sit both

  • Paper 1 – Saturday 11th November 2023
  • Paper 2 – Saturday 25th November 2023
  • Both papers assess English (or Gaeilge) and Mathematics
  • Both papers have an identical format consisting of 3 Sections

Section 1 – The Practice Test (similar to the old GL test)

  • 5 English (or Gaeilge) literacy questions
  • 5 Maths questions
  • These Practice Questions are designed to help pupils settle before the Main Test begins
  • Note that the Practice Test is not assessed

Section 2 – The English (or Gaeilge) Literacy Main Test

  • 28 questions (Q1-Q28)
  • Q1-5: Punctuation Exercise (5 multiple choice questions)
  • Q6-10: Grammar Exercise (5 multiple choice questions)
  • Q11-15: Spelling Exercise (5 multiple choice questions)
  • Q16-28: English (or Gaeilge) Comprehension.
  • Pupils read a passage and answer 13 questions
    • Q16-Q22: multiple choice style
    • Q23-Q28: free response style

Section 3 – The Maths Main Test

  • 28 questions (Q29-Q56)
    • Q29-Q52: multiple choice
    • Q53-Q58: free response

Candidates will have 60 minutes to answer the 58 questions and all answers will be completed on a separate double-sided answer sheet.

SEAG Schools

  • Abbey Christian Brothers Grammar School
  • Antrim Grammar School
  • Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School
  • Assumption Grammar School
  • Ballyclare High School
  • Ballymena Academy
  • Banbridge Academy
  • Bangor Grammar School
  • Belfast High School
  • Belfast Royal Academy
  • Bloomfield Collegiate
  • Cambridge House Grammar School
  • Campbell College
  • Carrickfergus Grammar School
  • Christian Brothers’ Grammar School, Omagh
  • Coleraine Grammar School
  • Dominican College, Fortwilliam
  • Down High School
  • Enniskillen Royal Grammar School
  • Foyle College
  • Friends’ School Lisburn
  • Glenlola Collegiate
  • Grosvenor Grammar School
  • Hunterhouse College
  • Lagan College
  • Larne Grammar School
  • Limavady Grammar School
  • Loreto Grammar School, Omagh
  • Lumen Christi College
  • Methodist College Belfast
  • Mount Lourdes Grammar School
  • Omagh Academy Grammar School
  • Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Knock
  • Our Lady’s Grammar School
  • Rainey Endowed
  • Rathmore Grammar School
  • Regent House School
  • Royal Belfast Academical Institution
  • Royal School Dungannon
  • Sacred Heart Grammar School
  • Slemish College
  • St Colman’s College
  • St Columb’s College
  • St Dominic’s High School
  • St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore
  • St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena
  • St Louis Grammar School, Kilkeel
  • St Malachy’s College
  • St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School
  • St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt
  • St Michael’s College
  • St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon
  • St Patrick’s Grammar School, Downpatrick
  • Strabane Academy
  • Strathearn School
  • Sullivan Upper School
  • Thornhill College
  • Victoria College
  • Wallace High School

See our new 2023 SEAG Practice Papers here