AQE Specification 2021

AQE Specification

According to the AQE website, the specification below covers the details of what will be and what will not be tested (which can be equally important) on the AQE test in 2021.

This document seeks to provide help and guidance for teachers and parents on the mathematics content of CEA papers in 2021. Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only.

The mathematics content to be covered for the Common Entrance Assessment is informed by CCEA’s NI Curriculum specification for the Area of Learning: Mathematics and Numeracy.

Questions set will relate to the Key Stage 2 Programme of Study for Mathematics and Numeracy. They will not assume a knowledge or understanding beyond this. The level of difficulty of the questions will not exceed that indicated for Level 5.

In the 2021 CEA papers, questions will address aspects of the content detailed in the strands: Number; Measures; Shape and Space; and Handling Data, as set out in the Appendix below. Where material has been omitted or where limitations have been put on specific content for the purposes of the 2021 CEA papers, these have been indicated in bold text immediately following the particular section to which they relate.

The nature of the Common Entrance Assessment is such that aspects of the Programme of Study that involve certain types of activity, such as discussion or practical activities, will not be included. The use of the calculator will not be permitted in the tests.

As the strand, Processes in Mathematics pervades the entire Mathematics and Numeracy Area of Learning, aspects of this strand, Making and Monitoring Decisions, Communicating Mathematically, and Mathematical Reasoning will be included in questions, where appropriate.


Maths Topics NOT being Tested


  • percentages;
  • triangular numbers;
  • the use of a letter to stand for an unknown number;
  • the interpretation of a calculator display in relation to money;
  • multiplication beyond a 3-digit number multiplied by a 2-digit number;
  • division beyond a 3-digit number divided by a single digit.


  • negative numbers;
  • calculating the area of a non-right-angled triangle;
  • the continuous nature of measurement & the need for appropriate accuracy;
  • the use of scale in simple maps and diagrams;
  • calculations related to timetables involving the 24-hour clock.


  • reflecting a shape in a diagonal line;
  • tessellations;
  • name and describe circles, pentagons, hexagons and octagons.


  • pie charts;
  • mean and range;
  • probability and likelihood.


Maths Topics That WILL BE Tested



Pupils should have opportunities to:
1 ● read, write and order whole numbers, initially to 100 and then for any whole numbers;
● understand that the position of a digit signifies its value;
● understand place value to develop computational methods;

2 ● extend understanding of place value to include decimals, initially to one decimal place and
then up to two decimal places;
● multiply and divide numbers by 10, 100, and 1000;

3 ● estimate calculations, initially with numbers within 100 and then for all whole numbers;
● approximate numbers to the nearest 10 or 100;
● estimate and approximate to gain a feeling for the size of a solution to a problem, for
example, understand that 32 × 9 is approximately 30 × 10;

4 ● understand and use, in context, vulgar fractions and decimal fractions;
● understand the equivalence of simple fractions.
● understand the relationship between fractions and decimals.
Relationships other than those listed below will not be included in the tests:
½ = 0.5 ¼ = 0.25 ¾ = 0.75 ⅒ = 0.1 ⅓ = 0.33


Pupils should have opportunities to:
1 ● explore and predict patterns and sequences of whole numbers including counting in
different sizes of step, doubling and halving numbers and multiplication patterns in the
hundred square;
● predict subsequent numbers in a sequence;
● follow simple sets of instructions to generate a sequence;
Questions will not be set on devising rules for determining sequences

2 ● understand and use multiples and factors;
● understand and use prime, square and cube numbers;
● appreciate that multiplication and division are inverse operations;

3 ● interpret and use simple relationships in numerical, spatial and practical situations;
● understand and use simple function machines;

4 ● understand use of a symbol to stand for an unknown number, for example, 6 + = 34.
Questions will only involve the use of whole numbers.


Pupils should have opportunities to:
1 ● consolidate knowledge of addition and subtraction facts for whole numbers;
● know multiplication facts to 10 × 10 and use these to solve problems;

2 ● understand the four operations of number and their interrelationships;
Questions will not be set on appreciation of the use of brackets
● solve problems using a range of non-calculator methods of computation to include addition
and subtraction with up to two decimal places and multiplication and division of decimals by
whole numbers.


Pupils should have opportunities to:
1 ● understand and use the conventional way of recording money;
● use the four operations to solve problems;

2 ● estimate and approximate to gain a feeling for the size of a solution to a problem.



Pupils should have opportunities to:
1 ● develop skills in estimation of length, weight, volume, capacity, time, area and temperature, using metric units where appropriate;

2 ● develop the language associated with a wider range of metric units and be confident with the terms metre, gram and litre, and their relevant prefixes of kilo, centi and milli;

3 ● choose and use appropriate metric units and measuring instruments,
● interpret numbers on a range of measuring instruments;

4 ● understand the relationship between units, for example, know that kilograms and grams are used to weigh food;
● convert from one metric unit to another, for example, know that 175 cm is 1.75 m;
● use the four operations to solve problems, working with up to three decimal places, where appropriate;
Pupils will not be expected to know the Imperial units still in common use

5 ● understand concept of perimeter and calculate the perimeter of simple shapes;
● find areas by counting squares and volumes by counting cubes;
● calculate the area of simple shapes in 2 dimensions (square, rectangle and right-angled triangle only);
● calculate the volume of simple shapes in 3 dimensions (cube and cuboid only);

6 ● know the units of measurement of time and the relationship between them;

7 ● recognise times on the analogue clock, including the hour, half and quarter hours, five minute intervals and one-minute intervals;
● understand the relationship between the 12-hour and 24-hour clocks, including am and pm;
● read analogue and digital displays and understand the relationship between them;
● perform simple calculations using the 12-hour and 24-hour clocks;

8 ● know the months of the year;
● explore calendar patterns.




Pupils should have opportunities to:
1 ● become familiar with a wide range of regular and irregular 2-D shapes;
● classify 2-D shapes through examination of angles and sides;
● recognise line symmetry in simple 2-D shapes;
Questions will not be set on recognition of rotational symmetry
● reflect shapes in horizontal and vertical lines only;
● name and describe common 2-D shapes: scalene, right-angled, equilateral and isosceles
triangles, and quadrilaterals including square, rectangle, rhombus, kite, parallelogram and
Questions will not be set on the meaning of congruence in 2-D shapes

2 ● investigate the number of faces, edges and vertices of common 3-D shapes including cubes,
cuboids, cones, cylinders, spheres, triangular prisms and pyramids;
● name and describe common 3-D shapes including cubes, cuboids, cones, cylinders, spheres,
triangular prisms and pyramids;
● recognise the nets of common 3-D shapes;

3 ● recognise geometrical properties and use these to solve problems.
Questions will relate only to the internal angles of triangles and quadrilaterals.


Pupils should have opportunities to:
1 ● use ¼ turns, ½ turns and whole turns to understand the notion of angle in the context of
● find right angles in 2-D and 3-D shapes;
● understand clockwise and anticlockwise;
● know the eight points of the compass;

2 ● develop the language associated with line and angle, including vertical, horizontal, perpendicular, parallel, acute, obtuse and reflex;

3 ● recognise properties of acute, obtuse and reflex angles, for example, know that an acute angle is less than a right angle and that a reflex angle is greater than two right angles;

4 ● investigate angles in triangles, including scalene, right-angled, equilateral and isosceles, and quadrilaterals including square, rectangle, rhombus, kite, parallelogram and trapezium;
Pupils will not be required in the test to measure or to draw angles

5 ● use co-ordinates to plot points and draw shapes in the first quadrant.



Pupils should have opportunities to:
1 ● use data drawn from a range of meaningful situations;

2 ● represent and interpret discrete numerical data, using graphs, tables and diagrams, including Venn, Decision Tree and Carroll diagrams, pictograms, block graphs, bar charts, bar-line graphs and line graphs with the axis starting at zero and with given intervals;

3 ● interpret tables and lists used in everyday life, for example, those found in a catalogue or
road safety accident report;
● interpret a wide range of graphs and diagrams;
● create and interpret frequency tables, including those for grouped discrete data;
● use tallying methods, including the 5-bar gate.
Questions will not be set relating to the use of computer packages to produce graphical representations of data.



  • Poem 1 followed by 7 reading/comprehension/literacy content questions;
  • Passage 1 – a basic skills passage (lines numbered on the right) followed by 5 spelling, punctuation and grammar questions;
  • Poem 2 followed by 7 reading/comprehension/literacy content questions;
  • Passage 2 – a prose passage followed by 7 reading/comprehension/literacy content questions.


Literacy Content

  • Spelling – use a variety of skills to spell words correctly by identifying commonly misspelt words or misuse of homophones.
  • Punctuation – correct use of the following punctuation only: full stops, commas (lists and speech punctation), question marks, exclamation marks, apostrophes (contraction or singular/plural possession) and quotation/speech marks.
  • Alphabetical Order – arrange words in alphabetical order.
  • Rhymes – identify words in a poem which rhyme.


  • Adjectives – identify an adjective in a sentence.
  • Adverbs – identify an adverb in a sentence.
  • Capital Letters – identify when capital letters should be used.
  • Nouns – identify a noun in a sentence.
  • Opposites – identify the opposite of a given word.
  • Singular & Plural Nouns – identify the singular/plural form of a given noun.
  • Tenses – identify present tense, past tense and participles of verbs, for example, swim (present tense), swam (past tense), swum (past participle), swimming (present participle).
  • Verbs – identify a verb in a sentence.

More about The Transfer Tutor (Multi-Award Winning App)

The Transfer Tutor’s Online Quizzes provide a fun and interactive way to learn and practise Maths and English questions which are directly aligned to both the AQE and GL specifications.

All quizzes are broken down into manageable topics and there are many, great features including (but not limited to):

  • Mobile friendly and works on any internet device.
  • In many questions, there will be a ‘Hint’ option that offers the child details on the ‘rule’ or aids them to complete it correctly which helps their future application and confidence.
  • The Leaderboard at the end makes the child feel like they’re playing a game and having friendly competition.
  • Good use of colour and graphics which makes it exciting.
  • Parents receives a progress email at the end to let them know how their child did.

Simply choose the licence you need depending on the length of time you need access, click on the blue box, pay and then you’ll be off within minutes.

For any further questions, please contact me or check out the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Try It Out:

To give you a feel for the quizzes, why not try out the quick fire free quiz by clicking on the button below (no need to register or pay, so don’t worry). This will hopefully let you see how the questions work – or more importantly, let you see if this is something that would inspire and encourage your child to learn.


Social Media Links – Keeping Up To Date

Follow or like The Transfer Tutor on your social media channel of choice and ensure you never miss a beat with the whole transfer process, handy tips, advice, special offers and competitions.

Click below for your preferred channel or search for @TransferTutorHQ wherever you are.

Free Facebook Group

You may have read in the reviews about people referring to the Facebook Support Group and this is certainly a great place to keep informed, ask questions, get support and keep up-to-date with anything happening in the transfer space.

It’s free to join but please ensure you have a genuine Facebook profile picture (ghost pictures are not approved as not deemed authentic) and then simply click here and answer the simple questions -> Join Facebook Group.