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SATs in the UK

Standardised Assessment Tests (SATs) are national assessments that are administered by primary schools in the UK that children take; once at the end of Key Stage 1 (KS1) in Year 2, and then secondly, at the end of Key Stage 2 (KS2) in year 6. They are used as an indicator of the progress your child has made in their education so far. They can also be used as a marker for both the government, and hence parents, of the quality of the education at a school. You can find your annual child’s school results on the Government’s Primary School Performance Tables or you can also use The School Guide website for an up to date primary school ranking based off government released SAT results for both independent and state funded primary schools. The setting and marking of SATs are carried out, in UK schools, by the Standards & Testing Agency.

KS1 SATs in Year 2

Every year in May children in Year 2 will sit their KS1 SATs in:

–        English (reading, spelling, punctuation and grammar)

–        Maths (arithmetic)

KS2 SATs in Year 6

In May 2023, children will sit their second set of SATs at KS2 level in Year 6 in:

–        English Reading

–        English Grammar

–        Punctuation

–        Spelling

–        Maths

They may also be assessed by their teachers on subjects including speaking and listening, writing and, in some cases, science.

How are KS2 SATs marked?

KS2 SATs are a more formal process of testing. They will have set exam days, as well as external marking in the majority of schools.

For those schools that wish to carry out the teacher assessments on speaking and listening, writing and, in some cases, science. It is a chance for the government and schools to judge a child’s performance in a subject over a longer period of time. This means teachers will be able to account for a child’s whole knowledge and ability in a subject, not just that which is produced in a test environment.

How are KS1 and KS2 SATs scored?

Since 2016, the National Curriculum levels which were used to score SATs papers have been replaced by scaled SATs scores which are currently being used. The scaling system is used for both KS1 and KS2.

This scoring method is used all around the world for school assessments. It is seen to be a fair method when looking at test results as it accounts for differences in the difficulty of tests on a year-by year basis, this facilitates comparisons for different cohorts.

What is the scaling system for KS2 and KS1?

To begin, your child will receive a raw score. This is the actual number of marks they achieved in their SATs.

Then, their raw score will be converted into a scaled score. This scaled score is then used to judge how well your child has done in their SATs paper. This then allows the score to be subject to comparisons with other schools, as well as different cohorts.

In KS1, 85 is the lowest score available, and 115 is the highest score available.

In KS2, 80 is the lowest score available, and 120 is the highest score available.

KS1 scores breakdown as follows:

–        115 – Highest score a child can get in the KS1 SATs.

–        101-114 – Exceeded the expected standard in the test.

–        100 – This is the expected standard for the children.

–        85-99 – Not met the expected standard in the test.

Please note however there is no direct consequence for a child who does not meet the expected standard at KS1 level and they will not have to retake it. It is used mostly as a reflection for the primary school and is simply used as an indicator of progress for your child in their first years of education.

KS2 score breakdown as follows:

–        120 – Highest score a child can get in the KS2 SATs.

–        101-119 – Exceeded the expected standard in the test.

–        100 – This is the expected standard for the children.

–        80-99 – Not met the expected standard in the test.

Similarly to KS1 there are no direct consequences for your child if they do not meet the expected standard. SATs at KS2 level are usually only used as an indicator for making sure your child is in the correct set in preparation for GCSEs. Although bear in mind that most secondary schools will usually have their own assessments and take the data from KS2 SATs with a pinch of salt. The SATs are used mostly as a reflection for the primary school, not for the individual children.

SATs jargon explained

SPaG: This refers to the spelling, punctuation and grammar tests that form part of the English SATs.

National Standard: This refers to the level in the scaling system that children are expected to reach in their SATs. This is set at 100 for both KS1 and KS2.

National curriculum tests: This is the official name for the SATs, but the majority of people refer to them as SATs.

Floor Standard: The minimum standard that the government expects schools to meet. If under 65% of a school’s pupils meet the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, and fail to make sufficient progress in all three subjects, the school will be considered below the floor standard.

Expected level/standard: a score of 100 means that your child is working at the expected standard.

Raw score: This is the number of marks that your child can get on the tests.

Scaled Score: This is a score that is converted to allow SATs results to be compared to previous and future years. This helps to account for different difficulties, and other factors, for tests year on year.

Age-standardised test scores: This converts a pupil’s raw score to a standardised age score which allows parents to understand how their child did compared with other children who were born in the same month nationally.

League tables: These are tables that are produced by the Department of Education which rank primary schools according to many different measures, including by SATs results.

How to prepare for SAT’s

  1. There are four principle operations in the maths SATs; addition, multiplication, subtraction and division. Those disciplines will all come up in some shape or form. This means you can practice and revise them with your child ahead of time.
  2. For English, they will be assessed on their reading, writing, spelling and grammar. In KS1 it will usually consist of simple poems and short stories. For KS2 they will be looking for a deeper level of understanding, usually in the form of analysis, synthesis and inference from a range of sources and more advanced stories.
  3. It is always important to ensure that your child feels confident and reassured. It is always a nerve racking and stressful period preparing for any type of exams. Reassurance and support will go a long way. Read the NHS mental health and wellbeing website for ideas.
  4. Practice SATs papers and SATs questions. On the Stand and Testing Agency and the Department for Education websites you will find available practice papers. If you run out of these, then you will be able to find some practice papers for KS1 here and for KS2, here.

We always recommend starting SAT preparation as early as possible. There will be an established syllabus that your primary school will be following in order to prepare your child for their SATs. Having extra help to consolidate what your child has learnt at school will always be beneficial and help them achieve the best of their ability. Especially in areas where they may be less strong in, this can differ from child to child. For more assistance or any specific enquiries about how our excellent team of private tutors can help your child please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • What is a good SAT score in the UK?

    SATs use a scaling system to score a pupil’s assessment.

    In KS1, 85 is the lowest score available, and 115 is the highest score available.

    In KS2, 80 is the lowest score available, and 120 is the highest score available.

    The expected standard for both KS1 and KS2 is a score of 100.

  • Is 2 months enough to study for SATs?

    As every child is different there is no specific timeline for preparation. If your child is confident in most areas and only needs improvements in one particular subject, two months can be enough. However, if there is concern in multiple disciplines, we recommend preparing as early as possible. In some cases, dedicated tutoring is recommended. If this is something you are interested in, please see our team of excellent private tutors here. 

  • How do I prepare for SATs?

    Please see the above for some website links to some great KS1 and KS2 practice paper resources. We are happy to answer any specific questions to do with tutoring and extra help to make sure your child is fully prepared for the SAT exams so please reach out to us at enquiries@simplylearningtuition.co.uk.

    As an overview:

    There are four principle operations in the maths SATs; addition, multiplication, subtraction and division.
    For English, they will be assessed on their reading, writing, spelling and grammar.
    It is always important to ensure that your child feels confident and reassured. It is always a nerve racking and stressful period preparing for any type of exams. Reassurance and support will go a long way. Read the NHS mental health and wellbeing website for ideas.

  • Are SATs compulsory?

    Yes. Every child in Year 2 (KS1) and Year 6 (KS2) in England will have to sit the SATs.

  • How are KS1 SATs marked?

    KS1 tests are assessed by teachers. This means that there is no external marking, except for occasional moderation which is purely done to assess the quality and consistency of marking as opposed to the work done by your child.

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