What are SATs? Everything you need to know

SATs: a small acronym that can strike fear into parents, children and teachers alike! This, coupled with periods of disrupted learning over the last few years, can make it tricky to know exactly what’s involved and how to prepare for them.

That’s why we’ve created the ultimate SATs guide to let you know what they are, when they’ll be taking place and how you can best support your child. Why not take a look below?

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What are SATs?

SATs stands for Standard Assessment Tests. These tests are designed to measure a child’s ability in maths and English.

As it says on the tin, all maintained schools and academies are asked to run SATs. These are compulsory for maths and English (including reading, spelling, punctuation and grammar). 

Alongside SATs, children also take other tests during their time at primary school, including the Multiplication Tables Check (MTC) in Year 4 and the 11+ exam in Year 6.

What year are SATs taken?

    • Key Stage 1 SATs take place in Year 2. These tests are designed to assess each child’s maths and reading ability.
    • Key Stage 2 SATs take place in Year 6. These tests assess each child’s maths ability, alongside their punctuation, spelling, grammar and reading skills. They’re taken towards the end of the academic year in May.

    What are SAT scores used for?

    The results of SATs are used to measure a child’s current level and a school’s level of progress compared to other schools.

    The results of the KS2 SATs are published by the Department of Education and compared with other schools. This is used to create a national average result, which is then used to see how each school is performing.

    Secondary schools are also told the SATs scores of their incoming pupils. They use these results to help group children into sets, but they’ll also usually hold their own tests in Year 7.

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    When are SATs taking place in 2023?

    When are KS1 SATs 2023?

    The KS1 SATs for Year 2 will take place in May 2023. Schools can choose the specific dates for these tests, so be sure to check the details with your school.

    When are KS2 SATs 2023?

    The KS2 SATs for Year 6 will take place from the 9th of May until the 12th of May 2023.

    Monday 9th of May, 2022

    • English papers 1 and 2: Spelling, punctuation and grammar

    Tuesday 10th of May, 2022

    • English paper 3: Reading

    Wednesday 11th of May, 2022

    • Maths paper 1: Arithmetic
    • Maths paper 2: Reasoning

    Thursday 12th of May, 2022

    • Maths paper 3: Reasoning

    What will be in the SATs papers?

    SATs papers test children on the content covered in the national curriculum. This is used as a way to ensure that all children have a good breadth of understanding.

    KS1 SATs paper

    KS1 maths SATs

    • Paper 1: a 25 mark paper designed to take 15 minutes
    • Paper 2: a 25 mark paper designed to take 35 minutes. It’s designed to test a child’s maths fluency, reasoning and problem-solving skills

    KS1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling SATs

    • Paper 1: a 20 mark paper designed to take 15 minutes. This paper is a spelling test.
    • Paper 2: a 20 mark paper designed to take 10 minutes. It’ll cover grammar, vocabulary and punctuation

    KS1 English reading SATs

    • Paper 1: a paper designed to take 30 minutes. This paper will include pieces of text from various mediums with questions throughout.
    • Paper 2: a paper designed to take 30 minutes. It’ll include a booklet with a variety of passages from different mediums, including fiction and non-fiction.

    KS2 SATs papers

    These SATs papers test elements across the whole of the curriculum, not just Year 6 content.

    KS2 maths SATs

    There are three maths papers: one tests arithmetic and two test reasoning skills. These areas will all have been covered throughout your child’s primary education.

    • Paper 1: a paper designed to take 30 minutes. In this paper, children will be asked to provide correct answers to calculations.
    • Paper 2: a paper designed to take 40 minutes. It’ll be a paper where children select from pre-determined answers, including multiple-choice and true or false.
    • Paper 3: a paper designed to take 40 minutes. This will be another multiple-choice paper.

    KS2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling SATs

    • Paper 1: a paper designed to take 45 minutes. It’ll be a written paper asking questions on grammar, punctuation and spelling.
    • Paper 2: a paper designed to take 15 minutes. This’ll be a spelling test.

    KS2 English reading SATs

    • Paper 1: a paper designed to take 60 minutes. Children will be asked to answer questions based on three passages of text.

    The Multiplication Tables Check (MTC)

    Children in Year 4 will also have a test at the end of the academic year. The Multiplication Tables Check is designed to help ensure that children know their times tables up to twelve off by heart.

    To find out more about the MTC, be sure to have a look at our handy MTC summary.

    SATs marking explained

    How are SATs papers marked?

    The number of marks a child receives in each test is compared against other children taking the test that year. This creates a scaled score that schools and the government use to understand how the pupils in each school are getting on.

    The total number of marks a pupil scores in a test (their ‘raw’ score) is converted into a scaled score to let pupils’ performances be compared over time and across schools.

    This scaled score is also helpful as it can be used to show the difficulty of each SATs paper. If a paper is particularly tricky, their standardised score will take account of this.

    What’s the national expectation for SATs results?

    A child’s SATs results can be used to see whether pupils they’ve met the national expectation in maths, reading and GPS (grammar, punctuation and spelling).

    Children earn a scaled score from 80-120 in each test. This shows where they’re working in relation to the national curriculum expectations:

    • A scaled score between 80 and 100 means that a child is working towards the national expectation
    • A scaled score of 100 means that a child has met the national expectation
    • A scaled score of 110 or above is classed as working at a higher standard

    Children receive a separate score for each topic. This means they may meet the national expectation in some subjects and not in others.

    What if my child doesn’t meet the national expectation?

    By meeting or exceeding the national expectation in a subject, a child is working at or above the expected level. This means they’re in the best possible position to meet the expectations when they move up to secondary school.

    If a child hasn’t met the national expectation, this will be highlighted to their secondary school so they can offer help and support to ensure they’re keeping up with content in lessons. They may also offer further support depending on their student support services.

    Teachers will also have an in-depth plan to prepare their classes for the assessments in May, and will keep you up-to-date with your child’s progress.

    If you have any questions, be sure to chat to your child’s teacher about how you can best support them at home.

    Using DoodleMaths and DoodleEnglish for a few minutes a day is another great way to help your child prepare for SATs.

    By creating your child a personalised work programme, they’ll automatically target the topics your child is finding challenging and consolidate what they know, helping them to get back on track ahead of the tests.

    And best of all, you can try it for free!

    When are the KS2 SATs results published?

    Results from the Year 6 SATs are shared with parents and the government once the papers have been marked in July.

    Do parents receive the results of SATs?

    Parents usually don’t receive the results of the KS1 SATs. For KS2, you’ll be told what your child will likely score. However, you can ask your school for more information.

    SATs and accessibility

    SATs papers are designed to be as accessible for as many children as possible.

    Before the SATs take place, schools will identify any children who have additional support and will provide access arrangements, such as a reader, a scribe or additional time to complete papers where required.

    Schools must provide documentation and evidence that this is normal practice for those children. 

    How to prepare for SATs

    • As well as having a good understanding of arithmetic, children should also have a range of calculation strategies up their sleeve. Estimation and using inverse operations are a great way to check their answers.
    • Encourage your child to always show their workings out. This will make it easier to find any mistakes they may have made in their calculations, and questions worth more than one mark often give a point for correct workings out, even if the answer is wrong.
    • Towards the end of the paper, children will receive questions that award marks based on the explanations they can give about why an answer is correct or incorrect. Encouraging your child to explain their answers is a great way to prepare for the tests.

    For even more tips, be sure to check out our blog on how to help your child prepare for SATs!

    Using Doodle to prepare for SATs

    Using DoodleMaths and DoodleEnglish ‘little and often’ in the run-up to SATs is the perfect way to help your child prepare for the exams.

    With thousands of curriculum-aligned questions, it’ll automatically revise tricky topics and consolidate their knowledge, helping them to catch up and maintain their learning.

    Plus, you can even set extra work in any topic of the curriculum, making it the perfect way to focus on any topics they’d like more practice in. Why not try it for free todayOr, discover Doodle for schools!

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