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What Are SATs? – Everything UK Parents Need To Know

In the UK, Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) are a cornerstone of primary education, gauging the academic progress of children in Year 2 (KS1) and Year 6 (KS2). These tests, integral to the national curriculum, assess subjects like Maths and English, including SPaG (Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar). They provide a snapshot of a child’s learning journey, offering insights that help shape future educational strategies. While they don’t directly predict GCSE results or measure IQ, SATs scores, including raw and scaled scores, are crucial in understanding a student’s academic level against national standards.

Understanding SATs – The Basics

SATs, or Standard Assessment Tests, are integral to the UK’s education system, designed to evaluate academic progress in primary school students.

SATs are conducted at two key stages – KS1 for Year 2 pupils and KS2 for Year 6 pupils. KS1 SATs are more about understanding a child’s basic knowledge in reading, writing, and maths, often marked by teachers within the school. KS2 SATs are more formal, with external marking, covering more rigorous content in English (including SPaG) and Maths. These assessments play a crucial role in tracking a child’s educational progress, providing a standardised measure for comparison across schools and nationally.

These tests do not predict GCSE outcomes or measure IQ but provide valuable insights into a student’s learning. Schools assess these exams, translating raw scores into scaled scores to standardise performance across the board. Understanding these scores, especially what is considered a good SATs score, is crucial for gauging a child’s academic trajectory and readiness for future challenges like GCSEs.

KS1 SATs in Year 2

For Year 2 students in the UK, KS1 SATs cover a range of subjects, with assessments including:

  • Reading: Evaluation of comprehension and interpretation skills.
  • Maths: Focus on basic arithmetic and problem-solving abilities.

Additionally, there is a teacher-assessed component for:

  • Science: Observation-based assessments of scientific understanding.
  • Writing: Judging writing skills, including grammar and storytelling.
  • Speaking and Listening: Assessing verbal communication and listening comprehension.

Starting from 2023, schools have the option to decide whether to administer KS1 SATs. This change allows for a more flexible approach to assessing young learners, recognising the diverse developmental stages at this age.


For Year 6 students, KS2 SATs are more formal and include assessments in:

  • English Reading: Testing comprehension skills through various texts.
  • English Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling (SPaG): Evaluating grammar usage, punctuation accuracy, and spelling proficiency.
  • Maths: Covering a broader range of topics including arithmetic, reasoning, and problem-solving.

Additionally, there is a teacher-assessed component for:

  • Writing: Assessing creativity and grasp of language in written form.
  • Science: Evaluation of scientific knowledge and application.

These assessments are crucial in preparing students for the transition to secondary education, giving a comprehensive view of their academic abilities.

SATs Jargon Explained

Understanding SATs involves familiarising yourself with specific terms:

  • SPaG: Stands for Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar, a key component of English assessment in KS2 SATs.
  • National Standard: The benchmark level of achievement set for SATs, aiming to reflect nationwide educational expectations.
  • Floor Standard: A minimum standard for school performance, below which intervention may be required. If 65% of a school’s pupils don’t meet the minimum requirement, the school will be considered below the floor standard.
  • Expected Level/Standard: A score indicating that a student is performing at the level expected for their age group in the SATs.
  • Raw Score: The initial score achieved by a student in the SATs before any scaling.
  • Scaled Score: A converted score that standardises raw scores for comparison across different years, with 100 typically being the national standard.
  • Age-standardised Test Scores: Scores adjusted to account for the age of the students, ensuring a fair comparison among children of the same age group.
  • League Tables: Rankings of schools based on various performance measures, including SATs results, used for assessing school performance.

These terms are integral in understanding SATs results, aiding in evaluating student performance and guiding subsequent educational steps.

SATs Students Learning Using Past Papers

SATs Preparation Strategies

Effective preparation can significantly impact a child’s performance in SATs. Here are some key strategies:

  1. Utilising Past Papers – Engaging with past test papers is an excellent way for students to familiarise themselves with the format and types of questions they can expect.
  2. Revision Resources – Utilising books, online games, and year-specific revision guides (like ‘year 6 maths SATs revision’ materials) can enhance understanding and confidence.
  3. Private Tutoring – Hiring a KS1 tutor or KS2 tutor can provide personalised support, targeting specific areas of improvement and boosting overall performance. Tutoring for SATs is a practice widely enjoyed by UK parents as private tutoring offers tailored guidance, often resulting in marked improvement in understanding and scores.
  4. Regular Practice – Consistent practice, especially in areas like SPaG and maths, can significantly improve raw and scaled scores.
  5. Help your child study at home – If you have some time, help them revise any kind of material for the exam, small practice sessions like these, goes a long way for the SATs exams.

Incorporating these strategies into a child’s routine can make a notable difference in their SATs performance, helping them reach or exceed the expected national standard.

SATs 2024 – Key Dates

The provisional dates for the 2024 SATs are as follows:

KS1 SATs: These will take place in May 2024, with exact dates varying by school, as they now have the flexibility to choose their testing schedule.

KS2 SATs: The schedule is more specific, typically spread over a week in May. The proposed dates are:

  •   13th May: Spelling, punctuation, and grammar tests.
  •   14th May: English reading test.
  •   15th and 16th May: Maths papers, covering arithmetic and reasoning.

The formats for these exams are expected to follow previous years, with KS1 maintaining a more flexible, teacher-assessed approach and KS2 adhering to formal, timed examinations in the core subjects.

What Will be in the KS1 and KS2 SATs Papers in 2024?

SATs KS1 and KS2 Papers

SATs Results – Understanding SATs Scores

SATs results are typically released in July, with KS1 results varying by school and KS2 results being standardised across the country. Here’s what to know:

  • Release of Results – KS1 results are internally marked and may be included in the end-of-year report. KS2 results are marked externally and released to schools, usually in early July.
  • Understanding the Scores – SATs scores are presented as raw scores, scaled scores, and national standards. A good SATs score is one that meets or exceeds the expected level, which is usually a scaled score of 100.
  • Implications – While SATs scores do not predict GCSE outcomes or reflect a child’s IQ, they are important indicators of academic progress and are used for setting in secondary schools.

Understanding these results helps parents and educators find a child’s strengths and areas for improvement, informing future academic support and preparation.


SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) are an integral part of the UK education system, assessing Year 2 (KS1) and Year 6 (KS2) students’ grasp of core subjects according to the national curriculum. These exams, marked by schools or externally, provide raw and scaled scores that reflect a child’s academic performance against the national standard. While they don’t predict future GCSE results or measure IQ, they are crucial in shaping educational strategies and choices. Understanding and preparing for SATs, through methods like revision practice papers, or even hiring a private KS1 or KS2 tutor may be the key to helping students achieve their best possible outcomes.


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