KS1 SATs: A guide for parents

2016 sees an overhaul of the national curriculum tests (commonly referred to as SATs) for both Year 2 and Year 6 children to match the newly updated national curriculum. This guide provides information on you, as parents/carers can expect and how you can support your child in the run-up to the tests.

About the tests

The first thing to say about the Key Stage 1 tests is that your child may be completely unaware that they are taking them. Schools have considerable flexibility in how we implement the tests and we aim to make much of it feel like a normal classroom day; our teachers will do their best to ensure that children are not concerned about the tests. To allow this, the tests do not need to be taken on a specific day, but will be throughout the month of May near the end of Year 2, with pupils either individually, in groups or all together as a class. There are six papers altogether across English and mathematics.2


Mathematics test

There are two papers in the mathematics test for Year 2.

Paper 1 – Arithmetic

The arithmetic paper will test your child’s number and calculation skills. It has 25 questions, some of which will require children to know some basic number facts, such as the number bonds (adding two single-digit numbers) and the 2, 5 and 10 tables. Towards the end, there are some more challenging calculations such as missing number problems or finding simple fractions of quantities.

Paper 2 – Reasoning

The second mathematics paper requires reasoning – using maths to solve problems. The first five questions in this paper will be read to your child, before they move on to the rest of the paper. But don’t worry – if they find anything difficult to read, then help will be available.

The questions in this paper will often include some background explanation, such as using money to buy fruit or measuring drinks.

As with the arithmetic paper, the earlier questions will be more straightforward; questions towards the end will offer more challenge. Not all children will reach them or complete them – and that’s fine; nobody expects a perfect score! Some of these questions may also require more than one step and so will be worth up to 2 marks.

Marking and Results

Your child’s teacher will mark the test and their marks will be converted into a scaled score and each child will receive an overall result indicating whether or not they have achieved the required standard of the test.


English tests

There are two tests for English: Reading; and Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GPS).

The Reading test

Paper 1 – English Reading (lower demand)

The first paper contains short texts with two or three questions to answer. Many of these will require either single-word answers or ticking a box.

Paper 2 – English Reading (higher demand)

In Paper 2, children will read two different texts and use these to answer questions in a separate booklet. Most children will take this paper, but teachers will not expect all children to complete the whole task. If your child finds reading more of a challenge at this stage, then his/her teacher will stop the test at an appropriate time. The questions in the booklet contain a mix of tick-box and ‘circle the correct answer’ questions, with some that require a written answer.

Some questions require simple retrieval of information from the text; others will ask your child to explain something in more detail.


The Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test

Paper 1 – Spelling

The spelling paper requires children to spell 20 words. Each word is read out as part of a sentence, which is printed in the answer booklet. Your child will be asked to write the missing word into the gap. The words in the test will be based on the familiar phonics patterns taught in Key Stage 1, in increasing difficulty. All words to be spelled are repeated more than once.


Paper 2 – Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary

The second paper assesses grammar and punctuation. 2016 will be the first time that this is tested in Year 2, and the questions will refer both to children’s knowledge of grammatical terms (such as noun and verb) and use of words in the right context. Some questions will also require children to put in the appropriate punctuation marks to sentences, or to change the tense of a sentence.


Marking and Results

All the tests will be marked by teachers at our school to help them judge the attainment and progress of your child. The results will be reported to you, along with their school report at the end of the school year.

Your child’s score will be converted to a scaled score to allow it to be compared to others’. Scaled scores will normally range between 80 and 130. The scale will be set so that reaching a score of 100 will indicate that your child is working at the expected standard for the end of Key Stage 1. Higher scores indicate more advanced attainment, with lower scores suggesting that your child may need some additional support to catch up with his or her peers.

Scores will be provided for reading and mathematics, with a single score for grammar, punctuation and spelling. Alongside these scores, our school will report on attainment in other subjects such as speaking and listening and science


How you can help your child prepare for the tests


1. The most important thing at this stage is to follow the lead of your child’s school.

2. Most schools will provide information for parents and carers about how the tests are carried out, usually at a meeting especially for parents and carers.

3. Ask your child’s teacher about how you can best support your child in preparing for the tests – perhaps by asking the right sorts of questions when reading with your child, or practising some

key number facts.

4. Most likely, there is no need to do any specific ‘test practice’ – rather, just enjoy spending time helping your child to learn at home.