Checking The Date & Time For Your Familiarisation Day (2023).
This blog is meant for guidance only as the grammar school (assessment centre you chose) will be in touch with you directly by either email or post, so please be patient and keep an eye on your junk folder in case it’s strayed in there.
Dates and times have been provided by parents but if you have any further information (e.g. extra dates) or spot an error, just comment on this post or ping me a message through the normal social media channels and I can amend accordingly.
I hope this helps get the date and time reserved in your diary.
Abbey Christian Brothers’ Grammar School, Newry
- Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th October, 3:45pm-4:45pm
Antrim Grammar School
- Wednesday 18th October, 2pm
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School
- Tuesday 17th & Thursday 19th & Tuesday 24th October 3:45pm – school will advise which session you’re invited to, so keep a lookout for your invite.
Assumption Grammar School
- Tuesday 17th October, 4:30pm
Ballyclare High School
- Saturday 21st October, 9:15am – 11am.
- Wednesday 8th November, Time TBC
- Monday 23rd & Tuesday 24th October, 3:30-5pm (check email)
Bangor Grammar School
- Thursday 26th October, 1:10pm (letters in the post)
Belfast High School
- Saturday 21st October, 10am-11am
Belfast Royal Academy
- Friday 27th October, 1:30pm
- Tuesday 17th October, 4:15pm-5pm
Cambridge House Grammar School
- Tuesday 24th October, 6:30pm
- Monday 6th November, 4pm-4:30pm.
Carrickfergus Grammar School
- Friday 27th October, 3:30pm
Christian Brothers’ Grammar School
Coleraine Grammar School
- Wednesday 18th October, 5pm
- Saturday 21st October, 9:40am arrival for 10am start
Dominican College Belfast
- Tuesday 24th October, 4pm
Down High School
- Thursday 12th October, 2pm
Enniskillen Royal Grammar School
- Saturday 21st October, 10am
- Tuesday 24th October, two sessions at 6pm & 7:30pm (keep an eye out for your invite)
Friends’ School Lisburn
- Friday 20th October, 2pm-3pm (sent by email)
- Thursday 26th October, 3:30pm
Grosvenor Grammar School
- Friday 27th October, 3:30-4:30pm
- Wednesday 18th & Thursday 19th October, Time TBC
- Tuesday 17th & Wednesday 18th October, 4:30pm-5:30pm
Larne Grammar School
- Saturday 21st October 9:30-11am
Limavady Grammar School
Loreto Grammar School Omagh
Lumen Christi College
- Wednesday 25th October, 5:45pm & 6:30pm
Methodist College Belfast
- Saturday 21st October, 9:30am-10:30am
Mount Lourdes Grammar School
- Wednesday 25th October, Time TBC
Omagh Academy Grammar School
Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Knock
- Monday 23rd October, 4:15pm
Our Lady’s Grammar School
- Tuesday 24th & Thursday 26th October, 4pm-5pm
Rainey Endowed School
- Friday 20th October, 4pm
Rathmore Grammar School
- Monday 23rd October, 5pm
Regent House School
- Saturday 21st October, 9am-10:15am
The Royal School Armagh
- Saturday 21st October, 9:15am-10:15am (sent via email)
The Royal School Dungannon
- Saturday 21st October, Time TBC
Sacred Heart Grammar School Newry
- Wednesday 25th & Thursday 26th October, 4-4:30pm
- Tuesday 17th October, 4:15pm
St Colman’s College, Newry
- Monday 23rd & Wednesday 25th October, 4pm-5pm
St Columb’s College Derry
St Dominic’s High School Belfast
- Wednesday 25th October. Three slots 4pm, 5:30pm and 7pm depending on the primary school.
St Joseph’s Grammar School Donaghmore
St Louis Grammar School Ballymena
- Tuesday 17th & Wednesday 18th October 4pm-5pm
St Louis Grammar School Kilkeel
- Monday 23rd & Tuesday 24th October, Time TBC
St Malachy’s College, Belfast
- Tuesday 24th October, 5pm-6pm
St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School
- Thursday 26th October, 4pm-4:30pm
St Mary’s Grammar School Magherafelt
- Tuesday 24th October, 4:30pm
St Michael’s College
St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon
- Monday 23rd & Tuesday 24th October, 4:15pm (letters in the post),
St Patrick’s Grammar School Downpatrick
- Monday 16th & Tuesday 17th October (email confirms time)
- Thursday 26th October, 4pm
- Monday 23rd October, 4pm
Sullivan Upper School
- Tuesday 17th October, 4:45pm
The Royal Belfast Academical Institution (Belfast Inst.)
- Thursday 19th October, 4pm-5pm
- Tuesday 24th October, 4:15pm
Victoria College Belfast
- Wednesday 18th October, 3:30-4pm
Wallace High School
- Wednesday 25th October, 4:30pm
- Wednesday 25th October, Time (Evening) TBC
MORE ABOUT THE FAMILIARISATION DAYS:
It’s about this time of the year that the grammar schools will run familiarisation days for all the P7s who will be arriving to sit the SEAG tests, so here’s a run down on my advice and experiences.
Getting familiar with the logistics
Firstly, these days are fabulous and a great dry-run to make sure you’ll know where to go on the big day, how far the journey will be from home, where you’ll park, what door you’ll go in etc. Whilst you may think that these are small things, trust me they are invaluable and from my own experience I remember turning up at Ben Madigan (BRA prep school) for my familiarisation day and then realising that I hadn’t a clue where BRA actually was, so ended up breaking the speed limit down the Antrim Road (which in hindsight was probably impossible during rush-hour) and turned up late and frazzled – only to realise I was in the wrong place altogether and should’ve been at RBAI.
What to wear
There are always a number of questions about what to wear and most schools will indicate on the letter you receive if they prefer the kids to turn up in their uniform or casual clothes, so depending on the grammar school, you should go with their recommendation. The same question exists for the real test and again most schools will indicate a preference for what they would like the child to wear. In general, I feel that when the child puts on their uniform they also put on their ‘school head’ but then there will be arguments for the child to be comfortable. I guess this decision is going to be individual if you are given a choice and you could go with the school’s recommendation or trust your gut instinct.
What Parents / Guardians Should Expect
You should most definitely expect a very warm welcome with a lot of smiles and happy people trying to reassure you and set you at ease. This is only a familiarisation day and the school will be doing everything in their power to put you at ease so don’t be worrying about it. At the start, everyone will generally gather in the main assembly hall and all the kids will be assigned a number or grouping so that they can easily be called in sections to visit the room where they will sit the test. After the children have left for their rooms, the principal will continue talking to the parents to explain the process for the day of the test, for example:
- what time to turn up on the day of the test
- what to do if you are late
- the procedures around the marking
- their own school’s criteria for admission
- where the parent must stay when the test is happening (on or off campus).
If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a cup of tea or coffee and maybe a biscuit.
What The Child Should Expect
After turning up, the child has to register and they’ll be given a number or a section so they know where they will be going when that group is called. When that happens, the child will leave their parents (usually quite merrily) and follow the teacher or prefect to their test room. This is a great opportunity for them to get a handle on how the test day is going to feel and ensures that they are familiar (hence the word familiarisation) with all the surroundings. As well as seeing their test room, they will:
- be able to see the setup of the desks and who else will be in the room with them
- see where they will be sitting exactly e.g. near a window, at the back or front
- get a sense of how cold or warm the room is so they may want to wear a jumper if cold (although on the test day it could be different)
- be informed of what they can bring on the day and what to do if they need a toilet break or extra paper
- do a brief test to give them some experience of what the real test day will feel like (this also gives them something to do whilst the principal is talking to the parents)
- have a chance to ask any questions
- be told about the rules of silence before the test and afterwards
Generally everyone usually leaves the familiarisation day with a sense of ease and feeling more informed. There’s also the feeling that this is now very real and imminent but at this stage I bet everyone is ready for it to be over. Good luck to you all and I hope you embrace the experience and even try to enjoy it.
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