Children in year 6 take the Key Stage 2 SATs tests in May. These are much more formal than those taken at the end of year 2, and are held on the same dates across the country under exam conditions.

There are a number of elements to the KS2 SATS tests, including English reading, maths and spelling, punctuation and grammar.


English reading: One paper

  • Comprehension questions


Mathematics: Three papers

  • Arithmetic
  • Mathematical reasoning
    paper 1
  • Mathematical reasoning
    paper 2


English grammar, punctuation & spelling: Two papers

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation and grammar (including vocabulary)


Find out how the Key Stage 2 results are marked


What’s covered in the KS2 SATs papers?

In May 2016, children in year 6 were the first to take the new Key Stage 2 SATS tests. The new style papers for English and maths reflect the latest National Curriculum and are more rigorous than previous years’ tests. There is also a completely new SATs marking scheme and grading system which has replaced the previous National Curriculum levels.

In previous years, there was a separate level 6 SATs paper that the highest achieving children were entered for. This separate paper is no longer set, but the tests taken by every KS2 child will have questions that are designed to allow the higher attaining pupils to show their strengths.

Reading – one paper

The KS2 reading test is only one paper, containing comprehension questions based on three different genres of text. The test has a reading booklet and a separate answer booklet. Children will have one hour to read all three texts and complete the questions, which are worth a total of 50 marks.

In addition to the reading test, children take a ‘teacher assessment’ in writing. This will be set and marked by their teacher and will not take place during the KS2 SATs week.


Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) – two papers

This element of the tests requires children to identify and write sentences that have correct grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and spelling. This assesses children on their technical understanding of the English language as well as their writing ability. It comprises two papers:

    • Paper 1: This paper contains a series of SPAG questions requiring short answers. Children will have 45 minutes to answer the questions, which are worth a total of 50 marks.
    • Paper 2: This is a spelling paper in which children are given a section of text with 20 missing words. The test invigilator will read out the test transcript for children to correctly spell the missing words in their answer booklet. The test takes approximately 15 minutes but is not strictly timed. The questions are worth a total of 20 marks.


Maths – three papers

The maths test comprises two components, presented to pupils as three test papers:

  • Paper 1: This is largely an arithmetic test, assessing children’s grasp of mathematical calculations. The questions cover addition and subtraction and more complex calculations with fractions worth 1 mark each. They also cover long division and long multiplication questions worth 2 marks each. Pupils will have 30 minutes to answer the questions which are worth 40 marks in total.
  • Papers 2 and 3: These papers assess children’s mathematical fluency – solving mathematical problems and using mathematical reasoning. Both papers will contain varied 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)  and problem solving. Pupils will have 40 minutes to complete each test paper, each being worth 35 marks.

Considering some extra help to get ready for the KS2 SATs? Speak to your local Explore Learning centre team to find out how we can support your family.


KS2 SATs questions

Our experts have created a range of practice papers for the Key Stage 2 assessments to help children become familiar with the types of questions and build their core skills in maths and English. Here are just two examples.

SATs quiz

Our SATs quiz is a great chance for your child to apply the knowledge and skills they have been building up at school. Can they beat you? We love a bit of friendly competition!



Key Stage 2 SATs results

Key Stage 2 SATs results are usually returned to schools in July. Around this time, you may see head teachers taking to social media to share the news of how their pupils have done in the recent tests and many parents then receive information about their child’s results over the coming weeks.

How are they marked?

From 2016, National Curriculum levels were abolished and instead children will now receive a scaled score. Their raw score (the actual number of marks they get) will be translated into a scaled score. Tests are set each year to the same specification, but because questions must be different, the difficulty of tests may vary slightly each year. For this reason, raw scores are converted into scaled scores to ensure accurate comparisons of pupil performance over time.

A scaled score of 100 or more means a child is working at the expected standard – termed ‘AS’, while a score below 100 indicates that a child hasn’t reached the government expected standard – termed ‘NS’. The maximum score possible is 120, and the minimum is 80.

To meet government expectations, pupils must achieve 100 in their scaled scores. However, this equates to different marks for each paper (maths; reading; grammar, punctuation and spelling) and can change each year.

When will I receive the results?

Each individual school will decide how they give pupils’ results to parents.

Many schools send a sheet of results home with the child’s end of term school report. Each child will receive confirmation of whether they achieved the national standard. As a parent, you might be given your child’s scaled score or a code but you are unlikely to be told your child’s raw score.

Will the SATs results be used by secondary schools?

Secondary school teachers will be told their incoming pupils’ SATs scaled scores. The way these scores will be used will vary between schools; some will use scaled scores to set year 7 pupils in maths and English, others may use a combination of SATs results and year 7 CATs (Cognitive Ability Tests) or their own internal tests at the start of secondary school.

Practice Questions

We’re here to help

Whether you’re looking for friendly advice, free workshops or maths and English tuition support, we’re here to help your family prepare for the Key Stage 2 SATs with expert SATs tutoring.

Remember, the SATs are fleeting but the biggest challenge your child will face is the transition up to secondary school. We work with children all the way up to year 9, so we can support families with each important step. Speak to a member of our team!

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