KS2 English SATs : everything you need to know

SATs: one tiny little acronym that can strike dread into parents, children and teachers alike. With exactly six months to go before Year 6 pupils sit their end of key stage 2 tests, we’ve produced a mini-series of SATs support for parents.

In this first instalment, we break down what they are, when they are, how you can support your child and why you shouldn’t panic! For a complete overview of KS1 and KS2 SATs, be sure to check out our ultimate SATs guide.

What are they?

SATs stands for statutory assessment tests.

As it says on the tin, these are simply tests which all maintained schools and academies have to complete. These are compulsory for maths and English (including reading, spelling, punctuation and grammar). There is not a specific writing paper, but teachers compile written work and, while this is assessed by the teacher, there is a very specific framework and extensive moderation to ensure consistency across the board. 10% of schools will also receive unannounced monitoring visits from the local authority.

Papers have been designed to be accessible for as many students as possible, so if your child has special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), most will still be able to participate. Schools will identify any children who have additional support in school and will provide access arrangements (such as a reader, scribe, additional time etc) where required. Schools must provide documentation and evidence that this is normal practice for those children. 

Whilst it’s important to be informed about these statutory tests, it’s equally important to remember that schools have been preparing children for them for many years. If you have any questions or worries, your child’s class teacher will be more than happy to talk you through the process.

When are they?

Monday 11th May 2020

English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 1 

Combined question and answer booklet. Paper 1 allows 45 minutes and is worth 50 marks.

English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2 (spelling)

The test administrator will follow a transcript which contains 20 spellings. These are read out both as the individual word, and in a sentence to provide context. This is around 15 minutes long but is not timed, and is worth 20 marks.

Tuesday 12th May 2020

English reading

Children will receive one booklet of reading comprehension texts (three in total) and one booklet to record their answers. They have one hour and and the test is worth 50 marks. 

What’s included?

Maintained and free schools and academies work from the national curriculum. This is the document provided by the government which ensures that all children have a good breadth of learning. The SATs papers test elements from the whole of the curriculum, not just Year 6 content. 

There are three English papers: one on grammar, punctuation and spelling (also known as SPaG or GPaS), one on spelling and one on reading. These will all have been taught throughout your child’s primary education.

The English reading paper contains three comprehension texts. These are likely to vary, and may include fiction, non-fiction, a newspaper article, a diary or other texts. The texts increase in difficulty and include all reading comprehension skills.

What skills do we need?


Children should be familiar with different types of text and should be able to identify key features. Questions tend to fit into one of two categories: literal or inferential. 

Literal questions tend to be more straightforward (“what was in the bottle?”) and start with ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, or ‘when’. The answer will be in the text.

Inference questions mean children need to find clues to answer questions, such as identifying emotions when the author has only described the actions (‘Laila stormed off, slamming the door behind her: “how was Laila feeling?”’). They may also need to do things like predict what will happen next and will use clues in the text to support their answers.

Spelling, punctuation and grammar

The English national curriculum specifies statutory word lists and spelling patterns, so while the spellings in the test may not be familiar to the children, a good understanding of spelling patterns will enable them to spell words correctly. Children should also read widely in order to increase the vocabulary they come across, as well as seeing punctuation and grammar structures used in different contexts.

To find out about the KS2 SATs mathematics papers children will also take during SATs, take a look at our accompanying blog.

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