Transfer Test Northern Ireland. What should my child know by now? What is on the AQE and GL Curriculum?

The 2020 Transfer Test Curriculum

Transfer Test tutor
AQE and GL Transfer Test Tuition by Experienced Teachers

If your child is in Primary 6 and you are considering whether or not they should sit the Transfer Test exams in November 2020, you may be asking the questions – Is my child able enough to get a good score in the test and what should they know by now to give them a good grounding for starting Transfer Test preparation?  Read our brief summary of the transfer test curriculum.

The Transfer Test is a difficult test. Children have to fit in a lot of learning to sit a test at the beginning of Primary 7. Much of the content has to be crammed into Primary 6. If your child has not grasped the basics of mathematics and English prior to starting preparation they can struggle with the more difficult questions. Success can be achieved with careful preparation including studying all the key topics and  past paper practice.


Your child will need a solid grasp of: times tables and division facts 0 to 12; place value of numbers up to 1,000000; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division operations; the relationship between fractions, decimals and percentages; patterns and sequences in number; converting between units of measure; recognising and classifying 2D and 3D shapes; position, movement and direction; identifying angles; interpreting graphs; statistics (mean and range) and probability.

Problem solving skills are vital for achieving success in the Transfer Test. Once they have covered the curriculum they then need to transfer their knowledge and skills into solving more complex problem questions.


Read, read, read!  If your child enjoys reading for pleasure it will increase their vocabulary, improve their spelling and allow them to develop the inference skills needed for the test.  If you can get your child to read a wide variety of books it will stand them in good stead.  Try and encourage them to read some classic novels as well as more modern material.  The examiners rarely use modern texts and usually stick to tried and tested passages from classics which contain vocabulary children may be unfamiliar with.

Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs 

Make sure your child can identify these in a piece of writing.  They are a key literacy element of the test.


Homophones test your child’s spelling.  They should be confident in spelling frequently used homophones such as there, their, they’re; where, wear, were; too, too, two and here and hear.

Grammar, punctuation and spelling

Do they know where to add apostrophes?  Can they punctuate a piece of writing using capitals, full stops, commas, question marks, explanation marks and speech marks?  They need to eliminate their own bad habits and also be able to recognise mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar and edit them accordingly.

Also required is an understanding of synonyms, antonyms, placing words in alphabetical order and rhyming sounds in poetry.

Your child must be confident skimming and scanning comprehension questions and texts. They need to be trained not just in the content of the curriculum but in exam techniques as well.

Learning time

Allow lots of time for learning the curriculum. It is crucial as there are many new concepts which need to be introduced and your child needs time to digest these and fully understand them without any stress.

Children need time to revise concepts and consolidate understanding, as well as the opportunity to be introduced to past paper questions. This helps build confidence by building on success and learning from mistakes.

It is vital that your child gets to experience practice papers and exam conditions.  At On Target Tuition we have 12 years experience tutoring for the tests. We often found ourselves frustrated by the lack of practice material that replicated the real AQE and GL tests.  Our solution was to create our own. 

For a little extra help preparing your child for the types of questions they might come up against in the AQE and GL, we have published revision resources to help.

The Road to the Transfer Test – designed to help parents and teachers introduce children to the types of questions that come up in the Transfer Test. This resource can be used from the end of Primary 5 through to the first half of Primary 6. For more details visit the On Target Resources website.

AQE and GL Practice Papers and Revision Books  – comprehensive revision and practice papers designed to replicate the real tests and cover the Transfer Test curriculum in full. For more details please click here.

The aim is to maintain a steady pace of progress which peaks as the first test approaches around the first week of November 2020.  Do not expect your child to be achieving high percentages in past papers when they start to practise them in school, usually after Easter in P6.  It takes time to build confidence in exam techniques and at this stage they may not know the full Transfer Test curriculum.

On Target Tuition

At On Target Tuition we have a lot of experience guiding children and supporting parents successfully through this process.   We begin with an assessment from which we can pinpoint areas of weakness and tailor a programme of study designed to help them achieve their own personal targets as they move towards the test. Our lessons are 80 minutes long, which allows us to work on both English and Maths as well as past papers.   Our tuition involves extensive past paper practice in both the AQE and GL Assessment papers, which is vital to improve exam technique.

For more information or advice please call us at our Lisburn centre on 9267 5071. Or visit our Transfer Test Tuition information page on our website.

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