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Year 6 SATs

KS2 SATs papers explained

At the end of Year 6, children sit tests in:

  • English reading
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 1: short answer questions
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: spelling
  • Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic
  • Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning
  • Mathematics Paper 3: reasoning

These tests are both set and marked externally, and your child’s marks will be used in conjunction with teacher assessment to give a broader picture of their attainment.

KS2 English reading test

The English reading test will have a greater focus on fictional texts. There is also a greater emphasis on the comprehension elements of the new curriculum. The test consists of a reading booklet and a separate answer booklet.

Pupils will have a total of 1 hour to read the 3 texts in the reading booklet and complete the questions at their own pace. There will be a mixture of genres of text. The least-demanding text will come first with the following texts increasing in level of difficulty.

Pupils can approach the test as they choose: eg working through one text and answering the questions before moving on to the next. The questions are worth a total of 50 marks.

KS2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test

The new grammar, punctuation and spelling test has a greater focus on knowing and applying grammatical terminology with the full range of punctuation tested.

The new national curriculum sets out clearly which technical terms in grammar are to be learnt by pupils and these are explicitly included in the test and detailed in the new test framework. It also defines precise spelling patterns and methodologies to be taught, and these are the basis of spellings in the test.There will be no contextual items in the test.

As in previous years, there are two papers, Paper 1: questions and Paper 2: spelling.

Paper 1: questions consist of a single test paper. Pupils will have 45 minutes to complete the test, answering the questions in the test paper. The questions are worth 50 marks in total.

Paper 2: Spelling consists of an answer booklet for pupils to complete and a test transcript to be read by the test administrator. Pupils will have approximately 15 minutes to complete the test, but it is not strictly timed, by writing the 20 missing words in the answer booklet. The questions are worth 20 marks in total.

KS2 mathematics test

There are 3 papers; Paper 1: arithmetic; Paper 2: reasoning; and Paper 3: reasoning.

Paper 1: arithmetic replaces the mental mathematics test. The arithmetic test assesses basic mathematical calculations. The test consists of a single test paper. Pupils will have 30 minutes to complete the test, answering the questions in the test paper. The paper consists of 36 questions which are worth a total of 40 marks.

The questions will cover straightforward addition and subtraction and more complex calculations with fractions worth 1 mark each, and long divisions and long multiplications worth 2 marks each.

Papers 2 and 3 each consist of a single test paper. Pupils will have 40 minutes to complete each test, answering the questions on the test paper. Each paper will have questions worth a total of 35 marks.

In some answer spaces, where pupils need to show their method, square grids are provided for the questions on the arithmetic paper and some of the questions on Paper 2.

No calculators are allowed for any of the mathematics tests.


A few weeks before the SATs there will be a mock examination week. The children will sit mock papers on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of that week with exactly the same conditions as they will experience on the actual week. The purpose of the mock week is for the children to become familiar with the exam environment so they are as relaxed and comfortable as possible for the real thing.


Tips on how you can help your child prepare

The biggest single influence on your child’s SAT marks will be their reading ability. Good readers can read questions quickly, and understand what they need to do. Continue to encourage your child to read every day, looking at both stories and non-fiction.

To help your child prepare for SATs use the CGP books and websites listed below. 

  • (general revision)
  • (interactive revision activities)
  • (link page to other revision sites for all subjects)