NI Transfer Test: KEY DATES

AQE: Nov / Dec Test

PPTC: Nov Test

Registration Opened Early May Late May
Registration Closed Early Sept Late Sept
Results Day Late January
Contact AQE PPTC



In 2004 the NI minister for education and employment, Jane Kennedy, announced that the 11+ transfer test was to be abolished.

There followed a backlash from grammar schools and parents and two consortia of schools have emerged:

  • Association for Quality Education (AQE), representing the state grammars; and
  • Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC), representing the CCMS schools

The AQE test is written and marked by AQE Ltd in Belfast. The PPTC test is set and marked by GL assessment Ltd in England.


Both the AQE and the GL exams cover a curriculum broadly mirroring the NI primary curriculum.


  • A growing number of Grammars accept either test but most use one or the other.
  • GL use a multiple choice format.
  • GL report the standardised age score and also assign grades:
    • A: the top 25% of candidates.
    • B1: the next 5% of candidates
    • B2: the next 5% of candidates; and so on.
  • GL also report a standardised age score ranging from 69 to 141 with 100 as the mean score.
  • AQE report a standardised age score with 100 as the mean score of the pupils who sit the test in that year.
  • Most Grammars in AQE accept pupils scoring around 100 upwards but it changes from school to school and from year to year.

The Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC)


  1. Tests set by GL Assessment – GL is the same company that produce the Progress in English / Maths [PiE / PiM] tests that your child has probably done in their Primary School
  2. No charge to parents
  3. Parents must register an application with PPTC
  4. The test takes place in a Post Primary school on one Saturday – always the Saturday in November not used by AQE. This allows candidates to take both exams

The test comprises:

  1. A 50 minute English multiple choice paper of 65 questions, including 3 comprehension passages.
  2. Maths: A 45 minute multiple choice paper of 45 questions.
  3. There will be a short practice paper before each main paper, and a short break between papers.
  4. Papers are multiple choice and answers are written on special answer sheets for marking by machines.

Sample questions can be found here
Test specifications can be found here

The Association for Quality Education (AQE)


  1. There is a charge of £45.00 for each child taking the test, although this is waived for children in receipt of free school meals.
  2. There is the option to sit the test in Irish
  3. Parents have to register an application with AQE. Application forms are available from the AQE website or Grammar schools.
  4. There are three papers to give pupils the best opportunity to display their abilities. The best two marks are taken into account. The test does not need to be taken in the school you are applying to.


Check out our AQE sample papers now – AQE Step1 sample paper and AQE Step2 sample paper