What to Expect in the Year 6 SATs Exams

What are Year 6 SATs?

KS2 SATs are standardised assessment tests taken by Year 6 students in the UK. They are designed to assess knowledge and skills in English and Mathematics before secondary school, measuring what students have learnt since starting KS2 in Year 3. 

Taking place in May of Year 6, they include various question types like multiple-choice, short answer and problem-solving tasks. SATs can feel daunting as they might be the first formal exams a student has sat (SATs taken in Year 2 take place in a much more informal setting), but they are not measured as ‘pass/fail’.

They are designed to give a general overview of a student’s abilities in Maths and English. Remember, SATs are important but not the be-all and end-all. Prioritize overall well-being and love for learning.

In this blog, we will take a look at what the SATs consist of, along with the topics covered to help give you a better idea of what to expect. You may also wish to enlist the help of an experienced Primary School tutor for extra support and guidance when tackling Year 6 SATs. 

How many tests make up KS2 SATs?

KS2 SATs are formed of six papers, spread out across the course of a week. Students will take a maximum of two tests per day, with a break between papers. 

Students will sit the following SATs papers:

  • English SPaG Paper 1 (short-answer questions)
  • English SPaG Paper 2 (spelling test)
  • English Reading Paper
  • Maths Arithmetic (Paper 1)
  • Maths Reasoning (Paper 2)
  • Maths Reasoning (Paper 3)

Note: SPaG stands for spelling, punctuation and grammar 

Teachers will also provide assessment judgements for English writing and Science, based on the student’s work in class at the end of KS2.

What do KS2 SATs cover?

SATs usually cover content from across KS2. For example, around 50% of the content for the 2019 SATs papers covered topics taught in Year 6, with the remaining questions covering content from Years 5, 4 and 3. 

For KS2 Maths papers, your child should be comfortable with:

  • Further arithmetic
  • Mathematical calculations
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Fractions
  • Long division
  • Long multiplication

The KS2 English reading paper will test comprehension skills, with questions on three texts from different genres. Your child should also be comfortable with spelling, punctuation and grammar for the other English papers.

What can I expect from each paper in the KS2 SATs?

The tests are usually taken in the student’s usual classroom, so rest assured that they will be in a familiar environment. The questions will also resemble problems that the student would have seen in class and previous end-of-year tests.

English Reading Paper

  • Students have 1 hour to answer questions based on 3 passages of text. These will be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction texts, including poetry. 
  • Question types include:
  • Ranking/ordering, e.g. ‘Number the events below to show the order in which they happen in the story’
  • Find and copy, e.g. ‘Find and copy a word that suggests what the weather is like in the story’ 
  • Short written responses, e.g. ‘What does the lion eat?’ 
  • Here are some sample questions from the 2023 paper

English SPaG Papers

  • Students have 45 minutes to answer written questions based on grammar and punctuation. These are usually a mix of multiple-choice, joining boxes, filling in the gap and writing short explanations. 

Question 10, 2023 KS2 SATs English Paper 1

Question 15, 2023 KS2 SATs English Paper 1

  • Students have around 20 minutes to complete an aural spelling test (Paper 2), where sentences are read aloud and then words are written by students into a gap in the sentence in their answer booklets. 

Here is an extract from the 2023 Spelling test transcript to give you an idea of how the test is administered:

Here is the related section from the answer booklet provided to students, where they are required to spell the word that is read aloud: 

Maths Papers

  • The arithmetic paper lasts 30 minutes.

  • The mathematical reasoning papers both last 45 minutes each and involve a wider range of question types, such as multiple choice, true or false and reasoning-based questions.

How are SATs results calculated and when are they released?

KS2 SATs are marked externally. Results are converted from raw marks to a scaled score between 80 to 120. Scores of 100 or more indicate a pupil meets the expected standard as defined by the government. 

Remember, the KS2 SATs are a good opportunity to identify your child’s current strengths and weaknesses so that you can continue to support their academic development, so a score below 100 does not necessarily have to be viewed as a ‘fail’.

KS2 SATs results are usually released in the first two weeks of July - parents will receive their child’s scaled score and are told whether or not they meet the expected level. 

KS2 SATs results are also published annually in the Department for Education’s primary school league tables, where you can compare how your child’s school performed against other schools, as well as the national average. 

SATs results may be used by secondary schools when placing students in sets for core subjects, but often secondary schools will do their own tests to assess students’ current attainment. 

How can I support my child in preparing for their SATs?

SATs are an opportunity for a child to have their first positive exam experience. A good approach is to frame exams as a chance to demonstrate their knowledge and depth of understanding. 

This experience can help prepare them for future exams, such as their GCSEs. Try to build a stress-free environment at home, as well as ensuring that your child has enough time away from studying to fully destress. 

Offering positive words of encouragement can provide reassurance and instil confidence. Try to take the time to remind them of their positive qualities beyond their academic abilities. 

A good tip is to arrange something fun for the weekend before SATs, so that children do not feel overwhelmed going into the tests. Don’t forget to celebrate the passing of each exam and the end of SATs either! 

It’s important to remember that schools will be preparing students for the format of the Maths and English papers during class. However, a little support at home can go a long way. 

Finding the time to get involved in your child's studies and helping them revise can be a struggle for parents.

There are many places online to get free exam papers from previous years and sample practice questions. Getting familiar with the style of questions and content covered in the SATs helps students feel comfortable with sitting the tests. 

Engaging with a qualified primary school tutor can also greatly enhance a child’s confidence and have them feeling test-ready.

Find experienced and highly qualified primary school tutors starting from £20 per hour

Best of luck!

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6th September

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