Practice, as the popular saying goes, makes perfect. Research also clearly shows that the right sort of psychometric test practice has a ‘practice effect’. The right sort of practice means firstly using a closely matched test format.

Primary school teachers regularly give out practice SAT tests. Children take them home and already stressed out parents have to set aside time in their busy diaries to manage their completion. There is an easier way, which is why I formed Passed Papers, which grants every parent easy access to the right practice papers and test-taking tips. That means improved scores – as well as reduced anxiety for both parents and child alike.

Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATS). Boy learning

First of all, Key Stage 1 SATs, taken at the end of Year 2 help alert teachers and the school to specific areas where support may be needed. The results are also scrutinised by Ofsted when they inspect schools to determine the consistency in performance and provide evidence of standards improving or declining.

Secondly, Key Stage 2 SATs are taken at the end (May / June) of Year 6. The results are often used by Secondary Schools to stream pupils starting Year 7. Other schools, however, use a combination of the Year 6 SATs scaled score, Year 7 CAT (Cognitive Ability Test) or their own entrance tests at the beginning of the academic year.

What do the SATs measure?

As a result, the SAT’s test school pupils in the three core subjects. Plus:

  • Your pupils’ school success in teaching these core subjects (English, Maths and Science); and
  • Your child’s progress.

Therefore, the SATs are now carried out at the end of Key Stage 1 (Year 2) and Key Stage 2 (Year 6). In 2010 Key Stage 3 SATs were scrapped and have been replaced by formal teacher assessment in each of the National Curriculum subjects.

Similarly, it was confirmed on 14 September 2017, that Key Stage 1 SATs will be made non-statutory (schools will be able to choose whether they want to take it) in 2023. Until then all Year 2 pupils will be subject to these assessments.

Most noteworthy is that the content of these assessments is prescribed by the National Curriculum.

Key Stage 1:

SATs Key Stage 1 comprises of Year 1 and Year 2 and pupils’ ages range from 5-7.

This Key Stage normally covers pupils in infant school, but they can also form part of a first or primary school. There is a phonics screening done at the end of Year 1, but the main assessment is done at the end of Year 2.

There are two elements to statutory assessments at the end of Year 2, a combination of tests and teacher assessment judgements.

SATs are completed for Reading, Writing, Mathematics and Science.

For each subject, teachers use the available evidence to reach individual judgements, based on the national assessment framework.

The judgements available for Reading, Writing and Mathematics are:

  • Working at Greater Depth within the Expected Standard
  • At the Expected Standard
  • Towards the Expected Standard
  • Foundations for the Expected Standard
  • Below the Standard of the pre-Key Stage

The only judgement available in Science is ‘Working at the Expected Standard’ or an indication the child has not met the expected standard for his/her age.

For pupils with Special Educational Needs, a separate judgement may be made, on a separate grading system.

Key Stage 1 Test Papers

The tests in Keystage 1 consists of the following:

There are two reading papers. Each paper has a selection of texts and children have to fill in answer booklets. One paper takes about 30 minutes and the other takes about 40 minutes.

There are two Maths papers. Paper 1 is on arithmetic; it takes about 20 minutes. Paper 2 has five aural questions and then some problem-solving questions; it takes about 35 minutes in total.

There is also an optional spelling, punctuation and grammar test that consists of 20 spellings and a 20-minute paper.

None of the papers is strictly timed. Teachers can use their discretion to decide if pupils need a rest break during any of the tests or, if appropriate, to stop a test early.

Keystage 1 SATs Guide and Papers

Key Stage 2:

Key Stage 2, therefore, consists of Years 3-6 and pupils’ ages range from 7-11. During May of Year 6, the final year of Key Stage 2, children undertake 3 National Curriculum Tests: Reading, Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling and Mathematics.
Once again these assessments comprise both tests and teacher judgements.

The judgements at Key Stage 2 also differ from Key Stage 1 because of the different roles played.

Reading and Mathematics also have fewer judgements as the focus is on the test scores. Science has only one judgement, as in Key Stage 1. Subsequently, the Teacher Assessment Framework is very helpful in explaining the finer details of this process.

Keystage2 SATs Guide and Papers

New curriculum, new grading

In the summer of 2016, Year 2 and Year 6 pupils wrote the brand new SATs papers. These papers were based on the new National Curriculum in English and Mathematics. They also make use of new marking schemes and grading system.

The grading system for Key stage 2 SATs is based on scaled scores. All Key Stage 2 SATs are marked externally. The raw scores are then converted to scaled scores. A scaled score of 100 shows a pupil has achieved the expected standard of the paper. A pupil with a scaled score of 99 would not have met the expected standard of the test.


The list of full KS 2 outcome codes are as follow:

  • AS: expected standard achieved
  • NS: expected standard  not achieved
  • A: absent from one or more of the test papers
  • B: working below the level assessed by KS2 SATs
  • M: missed the test
  • T: working at the level of the tests but unable to access them (all or part of a test is not suitable for a pupil with particular special educational needs)
The range of scaled scores available for each KS2 test is also the same, this year and in future years:
  • 80 – lowest possible scaled score
  • 120 –  highest possible scaled score

As of June 2020, there will also be a new framework, namely the MTC (Multiplication Tables Check Assessment), that will become statutory. Schools can, however, start implementing it in this academic year for them to get to know the assessment framework. The MTC will be a multiplication tables check for all multiplication tables up to and including 12 x 12.

This will be administered to Year 4 pupils.

For past papers try the following pages:

Keystage 1 SATs Guide and Papers

Keystage2 SATs Guide and Papers

Also, give our Key stage 2 SATs 2019 Practice quiz a go and see how well you will do.

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Temple Grafton CofE Primary School was awarded the first place in the Telegraph’s top 1000 primaries in the UK in 2016. Even though the school is very small, with only 111 learners in 2016. Their SAT scores showed a 100% pass rate at the expected level. Furthermore, 46% of learners met the higher standard that year.

Despite her school outperforming the majority of other schools in the UK, Ms Hendry, the head teacher is not a great supporter of the SAT’s. According to her, she would rather skip the exams altogether. She goes on to say: “They can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on 11-year-olds, and that’s something we work very hard to minimise. We don’t make a big thing of the SATs to the children, because for the children, the SATs don’t matter. No one will ever ask them in later life  how they performed in their Key Stage Two reading comprehension.”

Ms Hendry emphasises the school’s focus on independent learning. In her school, children have a choice of projects. They choose what they do and how they present their learning. Therefore the children actively participate. Teachers know them really well and can plan for their learning on a more personal level. She also warrants her success to a family feel and varied extracurricular activities.