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Year 6 SATs… What are they?

As a parent or carer of a child in primary school, you will definitely have heard of SATs, whether it's parent talk in the playground or parents’ evening with teachers.

So what are SATs in year 6? 

SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) are designed to evaluate your child’s progress throughout years 3-6 and to compare how your child achieves against other children of their age. Ofsted looks at SATs results.

SATs exams are set and marked outside the school.

However you feel about this – and SATs do divide opinion – it is likely you'll have some questions about the SATs tests and how best to support your child. 


Who takes SATs?

Children in English schools take SATs in year 2 and in year 6. In year 2, children are tested in Maths and English (reading and spelling, punctuation and grammar). These tests are generally carried out in a very informal way so that your child's under as little pressure as possible. There's no time limit and they're often done in small groups.

In year 6, the SATs become more formal – they're taken in a formal setting within a time limit. There are tests in Maths and English.

Information about Year 6 SATs: Maths

The maths test consists of three papers – one arithmetic paper of 30 minutes and two reasoning papers of 45 minutes each.

  • The arithmetic paper tests your child’s understanding of numbers along with mental and written calculation skills. Your child will need to know a range of number facts (such as their times tables). They are also tested on their knowledge of written methods of calculations (such as short division).

  • Papers two and three are reasoning tests. Your child will need to apply their mathematical knowledge to solve problems. This could mean buying things in a shop, adapting recipes for different numbers or calculating the area and perimeter for tiling a floor. These test papers cover a broader area of maths, including geometry and statistics, as well as number knowledge and arithmetic.



Information about Year 6 SATs: English

There are two tests for English – a reading paper, which lasts for one hour, and a grammar, punctuation and spelling (SPaG) paper. There is no English writing test as teachers in school will assess your child's writing.

The SATs Year 6 Reading Paper:

  • During the reading test, your child will usually have three different texts to read. These will be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction writing, including poetry;

  • Your child will answer questions which assess their comprehension and inference skills. Inference means they will have to use a mixture of evidence from the text and their own reasoning skills;

  • The questions range from multiple choice answers to longer, written responses;

  • In school, your child will have done lots of practice questions so that they are familiar with answering the different types of questions against a set time.

The SATs Year 6 SPaG Paper:

  • In the grammar, punctuation and spelling test, your child will need to show they understand a range of grammatical terms;

  • Examples of these terms could be relative pronouns (such as which, who, that) and conjunctions (but, and, because);

  • Your child will also show they can use punctuation (such as inverted commas for direct speech) and knowledge of the language used in context;

  • The questions in the SPaG paper could be multiple-choice, joining boxes, writing in a sentence or writing a short explanation;

  • Some questions may ask your child to insert punctuation correctly into a sentence or identify a section of a sentence.

  • For the spelling test, your child will need to spell twenty words by inserting them into a sentence in their answer booklets. After each sentence is read aloud, they will have time to write the word before the next sentence is read out.


Does my child have to do SATs in science?

Children's progress in science is assessed by their teachers. However, every two years, the government will ask around 10 pupils from around 1,900 schools to take three science papers, each one lasting 25 minutes.

This helps the government to monitor overall performance in science from years 3-6.

Children will sit the papers on a single day, usually in June.

When do the SATs take place?

SATs take place towards the start of May each year. All schools throughout the country are doing the test at the same time. They begin on a Monday and usually finish on the Thursday in the same week.

Your child’s school will give you more information closer to the time about how this will be organised in school.

How can I support my child?

Your child's teacher will be happy to talk to you about how best to support your child. Every child is different and each child will require a different approach. 

  • All children however, require a good night's sleep the night before a test paper, so avoid late nights and late night screen-time.
  • Talk to your child about SATs and tell them not to worry about them.
  • Keep your weekly routine and out of school clubs/activities as normal as possible and ensure that your child gets plenty of exercise and fresh air - and sleep.
  • Did we mention that sleep is important?!

In addition there are some useful resources here which you may want to look at: