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SEAG Test English Specification

SEAG Test English Specification

The English Questions set will be based entirely on the content and syllabus of the Reading and Writing curricular areas of the Northern Ireland Curriculum for Language and Literacy at Key Stage 2. This is the same content taught in all primary schools.

Pupils will have to read, explore, understand and make use of a range of texts and to engage in sustained, independent reading to locate, select, evaluate and communicate information relevant for a particular task. 

They may be asked to consider, interpret and discuss texts, exploring the ways in which language can be manipulated in order to affect the reader or engage attention, justifying their responses logically, by inference, deduction and/or reference to evidence within the text. 

They are expected to use a range of cross-checking strategies to read unfamiliar words in texts and use a variety of reading skills for different reading purposes. They will be expected to identify and understand various features of layout in texts and be aware that writing may be for a variety of purposes and audiences. 

They may be asked to use a variety of skills to spell words correctly and to develop increasing competence in the use of grammar and punctuation to create clarity of meaning. There will be no requirement for extended written responses and candidates will not be required to write responses of more than one or two sentences. 

No marks will be awarded for handwriting. 

The content to be assessed in Reading and Writing is: 


  • Locating, selecting and communicating required information from a given source.

  • Literal and inferential interpretation of passages, chosen to represent a variety of styles (prose, poetry, fiction and non-fiction), authorship and content.

  • Understanding of rhyme, verse structure, word play and dialect.

  • Understanding of and response to writing for a variety of purposes and audiences; awareness of appropriate style and form.

  • Understanding how language can be manipulated in order to affect the reader or engage attention.

Spelling and Punctuation

  •  Proofreading skills in detecting mistakes using short passages or sentences.

  •  Knowledge of the appropriate use of capital letter, full stop, comma, colon and semicolon, brackets, question mark, exclamation mark, hyphen, apostrophe, speech and quotation marks.

  • Knowledge and use of common spelling rules and irregular spellings; spelling of homonyms and similar sounding words such as there/their/they’re, where/were/wear; him/hymn, etc. 

  • Understanding of index, contents, glossary, bibliography, author, types of written work – prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction.

  • Understanding of imagery, simile and metaphor, verse and rhyme.

Grammar and Syntax

  • Identification of noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, conjunction, preposition.

  • Understanding of tense of verbs; identification of present and past tenses, simple and irregular, such as seek/sought, find/found, etc.; awareness of future and conditional tenses – will and would.

  • Use of abbreviations in tenses such as they’re, could’ve, etc.

  • Plurals beyond use of “s” and “es”, including common collective nouns, such as oxen.

  • Use of comparative and superlative adjectives / adverbs.

  • Understanding of phrase, sentence, paragraph and chapter.


  • Meaning of selected words chosen from the reading passages.

  • Synonyms and homonyms in common usage.

Candidates will not be required to write responses of more than a few words; there will be no requirement for extended written responses. There will be no questions requiring identification of future perfect or conditional perfect tenses beyond testing awareness of abbreviation such as would’ve or could’ve.

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