AQE News

3rd September 2020

Association for Quality Education

Press Release

Changes to the Dates and Timings of the AQE Common Entrance Assessments

  • To take account of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Board of the Association for Quality Education (AQE) would like to announce that it has been agreed that the AQE assessments will now take place on:
    • Saturday 9th January 2021;
    • Saturday 16th January 2021;
    • Saturday 23rd January 2021.
  • The closing date for applications to enter the AQE assessments will be Friday, 9th October 2020
  • The date of the issue of results to parents will be Saturday, 6th March 2021
  • The Board of AQE acknowledges the diversity of views on the desirability of moving the dates of the assessment but is committed to work with the Minister of Education to provide the maximum possible teaching time for pupils.
  • The Board has also decided to allow children an additional 10 minutes for each of the three papers. This will be an extra 30 minutes in total. The extra 10 minutes available for each paper will reassure the children that they will have sufficient time to finish the paper. For those children who are finished early, this time can be used to look over their paper and check their answers. The AQE Board wishes to express its thanks to all involved in this process for all their hard work during this difficult time.


AQE Ltd is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, consisting of members from 34 voluntary and controlled grammar schools. The company was set up 12 years ago following the decision by the then Education Minister to abolish the government provided transfer test. In response to the concerns of many schools and parents, AQE Ltd designed a bespoke assessment, informed by the Northern Ireland Curriculum. Parents apply to AQE Ltd from early in the summer term for their children (in P6 moving into P7) to sit the assessment papers in the autumn/winter. The scores from this assessment can be used by parents to apply to schools who use academic selection in their admissions criteria.

AQE Ltd has five functions:

  • set new Common Entrance Assessments (CEAs) for each academic year;
  • operation of overflow assessment centres, if the 34 Member schools are unable to accommodate all of the candidates; consider Access Arrangements applications from parents;
  • administer applications from parents, all processes associated with setting, printing, distribution, examining, marking and standardisation of the CEAs, applications for Access Arrangements and issue of results to parents; and
  • marking the tests. The number of applicants to AQE Ltd has risen steadily from just over 7000 in 2009/10 to almost 8700 in 2019/20.

Contact Details
028 90224002