Key Stage 1 and 2 Tests
KEY STAGE ONE
At the end of key stage 1, your child’s teacher will judge the standard that your child is working at in English, maths and science. To help the teacher make these judgements, your child will sit national curriculum tests in maths and English, known as standard attainment tests (SATs). These tests, along with your child’s work throughout the year, help the teacher to assess your child’s performance and, as they move up to key stage 2, identify their needs. SATs are taken during May, but, as many teachers incorporate them into their everyday teaching, your child may not even realise that they have taken them! Teachers will ensure that their students are ready to take the tests.
At the end of Year 2, children take SATs in:
- English grammar, punctuation and spelling, or GPS (optional paper, schools can decide whether to use it)
KS1 SATs were overhauled to reflect changes to the national curriculum in 2016.
In September 2017 it was confirmed that the KS1 SATs will be made non-statutory (so schools will be able to choose whether to administer them or not) from 2023. Until then children will continue to be assessed in May during Year 2, although in 2020 and 2021 KS1 SATs did not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Key Stage 1 Reading
The reading test for Year 2 pupils is made up of two separate papers:
- Paper 1 consists of a selection of texts totalling 400 to 700 words, with questions interspersed
- Paper 2 comprises a reading booklet of a selection of passages totalling 800 to 1100 words. Children will write their answers in a separate booklet
Each paper is worth 50 per cent of the marks, and should take around 30 minutes, but children are not be strictly timed, as the tests are not intended to assess children’s ability to work at speed. The texts in the reading papers cover a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and get progressively more difficult towards the end of the test.
Teachers have the option to stop the test at any point that they feel is appropriate for a particular child.
Key stage 1 grammar, spelling and punctuation
Children taking Key Stage 1 SATs may also sit two separate papers in grammar, spelling and punctuation:
- Paper 1: a 20-word spelling test taking approximately 15 minutes and worth 20 marks.
- Paper 2: a grammar, punctuation and vocabulary test, in two sections of around 10 minutes each (with a break between, if necessary), worth 20 marks. This will involve a mixture of selecting the right answers e.g. through multiple choice, and writing short answers.
In May 2016, following the KS1 SATs spelling paper accidentally being made available on the Department for Education website before the test, Schools Minister Nick Gibb decided the test would be optional in 2016. In 2017 the KS1 GPS test remained optional, so schools could choose whether to adminster it to their pupils. This was also the case in 2018 and 2019.
There are a variety of question types:
- Multiple choice
- Ranking / ordering, e.g. ‘Number the events below to show in which order they happened in the story’
- Matching, e.g. ‘Match the character to the job that they do in the story’
- Labelling, e.g. ‘Label the text to show the title’
- Find and copy, e.g. ‘Find and copy one word that shows what the weather was like in the story’
- Short answer, e.g. ‘What does the bear eat?’
- Open-ended answer, e.g. ‘Why did Lucy write the letter to her grandmother? Give two reasons’
Key Stage 1 maths
The Key Stage 1 maths test is made up of two papers:
- Paper 1: arithmetic, worth 25 marks and taking around 15 minutes.
- Paper 2: mathematical fluency, problem-solving and reasoning, worth 35 marks and taking 35 minutes, with a break if necessary. There are a variety of question types: multiple choice, matching, true / false, constrained (e.g. completing a chart or table; drawing a shape) and less constrained (e.g. where children have to show or explain their method).
Children are not allowed to use any tools such as calculators or number lines.
When will the KS1 SATs take place?
The KS1 SATs are due to be administered in May 2022.
Unlike KS2 SATs, KS1 SATs don't have to be administered according to a nationally-set timetable in a specific week. Schools are free to manage the timetable and will aim to administer the tests in the classroom in a low-stress, low-key way; some children won't even be aware they've taken them!
How will the tests be marked?
Although the tests are set externally, they are marked by teachers within the school.
Children are given a scaled score. Their raw score – the actual number of marks they get – is translated into a scaled score, where a score of 100 means the child is working at the expected standard.
A score below 100 indicates that the child needs more support, whereas a score of above 100 suggests the child is working at a higher level than expected for their age. The maximum score possible is 115, and the minimum is 85.
Teacher assessments are also used to build up a picture of your child’s learning and achievements. In addition, your child will receive an overall result saying whether they have achieved the required standard in the tests (your child's actual results won't be communicated to you unless you ask for them).
KEY STAGE TWO
Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) are used nationally to measure children’s progress and ability based on what is taught in the national curriculum. They are also used as part of the Ofsted process to measure a school’s performance. At the end of key stage 2, towards the start of May, your child will complete tests in English and maths. There are two tests for English – a reading paper, which lasts for one hour, and a grammar and punctuation paper (which consists of two parts; a spelling paper and a grammar paper). There is no English writing test as this is assessed by teachers in school. The maths test consists of three papers - one arithmetic paper which lasts 30 minutes and two reasoning papers; each lasting 45 minutes. These tests, along with your child’s work throughout the year, help the teacher to assess your child’s performance and, as they move up to secondary school, identify their needs. Teachers will ensure that their students are ready to take the tests
At the end of Year 6, children in England sit tests in:
- Grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS)
These tests are both set and marked externally, and the results are used to measure the school’s performance (for example, through reporting to Ofsted and published league tables). Your child’s marks will be used in conjunction with teacher assessment to give a broader picture of their attainment.
The KS2 SATs for English and maths taken since 2016 reflect the amended national curriculum, and are more rigorous than previous years' tests. In 2020 and 2021 KS2 SATs did not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Primary school SATs results will not be published in national league tables until 2023 to reflect the disruption to children's learning.
Key Stage 2 Reading
The reading test is a single paper with questions based on three passages of text. Your child will have one hour, including reading time, to complete the test.
There will be a selection of question types, including:
- Ranking/ordering, e.g. ‘Number the events below to show the order in which they happen in the story’
- Labelling, e.g. ‘Label the text to show the title of the story’
- Find and copy, e.g. ‘Find and copy one word that suggests what the weather is like in the story’
- Short constructed response, e.g. ‘What does the bear eat?’
- Open-ended response, e.g. ‘Look at the sentence that begins Once upon a time. How does the writer increase the tension throughout this paragraph? Explain fully, referring to the text in your answer.’
Since 2018 the reading content of the KS2 SATs has been closely linked to the curriculum to ensure children are drawing on their knowledge when answering reading comprehension questions.
Key Stage 2 grammar, punctuation and spelling test
Usually, the GPS test consists of two parts: a grammar and punctuation paper requiring short answers, lasting 45 minutes, and an aural spelling test of 20 words, lasting around 15 minutes.
The GPS test includes two sub-types of questions:
- Selected response, e.g. ‘Identify the adjectives in the sentence below’
- Constructed response, e.g. ‘Correct/complete/rewrite the sentence below,’ or, ‘The sentence below has an apostrophe missing. Explain why it needs an apostrophe.’
Key Stage 2 maths
Children sit three papers in maths:
- Paper 1: arithmetic, 30 minutes
- Papers 2 and 3: reasoning, 40 minutes per paper
Paper 1 will consist of fixed response questions, where children have to give the correct answer to calculations, including long multiplication and division. Papers 2 and 3 will involve a number of question types, including:
- Multiple choice
- True or false
- Constrained questions, e.g. giving the answer to a calculation, drawing a shape or completing a table or chart
- Less constrained questions, where children will have to explain their approach for solving a problem
Key Stage 2 science
In selected years a number of schools (approximately 1900) are required to take part in science sampling, a test administered to a selected sample of children thought to be representative of the population as a whole.
For those who are selected, there are three papers:
- Biology: 25 minutes, 22 marks
- Chemistry: 25 minutes, 22 marks
- Physics: 25 minutes, 22 marks
Each paper takes a maximum of 25 minutes to complete.
It sounds very intimidating, but these are ‘questions in a physics/chemistry/biology context’, for example:
Biology: ‘Describe the differences in the life cycle of an amphibian and a mammal’
Chemistry: ‘Group a list of materials according to whether they are solid, liquid or gas’
Physics: ‘Predict whether two magnets will attract or repel each other, based on where the poles are facing’
The Department for Education has confirmed there will be no science sampling tests in the 2021/22 academic year.
When will KS2 SATs take place in 2022?
The Year Six SATs will be administered in the week commencing 9 May 2022.
The SATs timetable runs as follows:
English GPS Paper 1: questions
English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: spelling
Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic
Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning
Mathematics Paper 3: reasoning
How will Key Stage 2 SATs be marked?
Year Six children are given scaled scores. You will be given your child’s scaled score and whether they have reached the expected standard set by the Department for Education (‘NS’ means that the expected standard was not achieved and ‘AS’ means the expected standard was achieved).
The range of scaled scores available for each KS2 test is:
- 80 (the lowest scaled score that can be awarded)
- 120 (the highest scaled score)
The expected standard for each test is a scaled score of 100 or more. If a child is awarded a scaled score of 99 or less they won't have achieved the expected standard in the test.