Choosing the right school to sit the AQE/GL test


Once the AQE and GL registration is open, you don’t need to panic, as you do have until September / October to apply, but you will want to get your application in early so you have more of a chance to get a seat in your preferred grammar school (to sit the exam) and places are limited.

For AQE, the way it works is that you ONLY HAVE ONE choice to make, indicating where you would like your son or daughter to sit the exam and the schools treat applications on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis, so the earlier that application is in, the better.

AQE have advised that if the child cannot be accommodated in their chosen school, then they will be allocated a school closest to their home address.

In choosing a suitable school, here are 6 things I would recommend that you consider.

1. Handiness to home location.

How handy will it be to get to on test day? The closer the better, as you want to keep journey time (and nerves on the day) to a minimum. Also, previous years have been blighted with snow, so whilst the sun might be shining outside, please bear this in mind as the test will be in November / December.

2. Is the test centre an all-boys or all-girls school?

From experience, my daughter sat her tests in an all-girls school and there was about 200 girls and 4 boys. I remember thinking “Oh, I wouldn’t like to be one of those boys as I would feel so out of place.” So picture this if you are going to send your daughter to an all-boys school to sit the test, or vice versa.  At the same time, your child may be fine being in the minority – as usual, it all depends on the child.

3. Small classrooms or large halls?

In previous years this was a big consideration – does the school let the children do the tests in small classrooms or large assembly halls / gymnasiums? However with the coronavirus risk and social distancing, it would seem that all schools might be opting for the larger hall situation, rather that confined spaces. If this is really important to you, you can always contact the grammar and ask them what their plan is, or keep an eye out on the Facebook Support Group for discussions along these lines.

4. Are you sitting it in the school the child intends to go to?

Is your child going to be more nervous sitting the test at their dream school? If your child has their heart set on a particular school, it may be prudent to avoid that school and go for somewhere more run of the mill. The last thing you want them doing is looking all around them, taking in all the sights and smells and imagining their future there. On the day of the test, they will need a clear focus with no distractions. Alternatively, you may feel it will help them work harder on the day? You know your child best but this is something you may want to consider.

5. Does the test centre do both the AQE and GL exams?

If your child is sitting both the GL and the AQE test, you may want to choose a centre that caters for both.  That way, the child (and you) will only have to get used to the set up of one location and not two different big schools.

In 2021, Wellington College, Antrim Grammar, Campbell College, Victoria College and Hunterhouse accommodate both tests.

6. Don’t choose the grammar school to sit the test just because you think it might influence their ultimate decision to offer your child a future place. 

The place your child sits the test has absolutely nothing to do with the admission criteria for the grammar school. So, base your choice in points 1-5 above and not out of some loyalty to the grammar school, or any skewed thinking that you might offend them in some way if you don’t sit the test there.


I hope this helps as you make the first step in the official journey. ?

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.

Google Reviews:

Check out the Google Reviews to read what other customers felt about The Transfer Tutor.

Spoiler alert – all the kids (the most important people) and parents love it!

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.