SATs SPaG Test: Essential Skills for Success



The SATs SPaG test (Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation), presents Year 6 children with a wide array of questions from the English curriculum. Not only are students tested on their spelling ability, but they are also required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of the English Language.


In the SPaG test, students may be asked to recognise spelling patterns and use prefixes and suffixes to alter the meanings of words. They can also be asked to identify parts of speech such as adverbs, nouns, subordinate clauses, conjunctions and prepositions. There may also be a selection of questions on the correct use of punctuation. You can understand why this test is often described as one of the hardest amongst the range of SATs papers your child will face!


The questions below are intended to give a brief overview of some of the trickier types of question. In our explanations, we’ve included definitions of the terms and how they are used in language, along with any potential pitfalls to look out for.





Conjunctions are words that are used to join individual words, phrases or independent clauses together. Simple coordinating conjunctions such as ‘and’, ‘for’ and ‘but’ are used to join parts of a sentence together. Transitional conjunctions on the other hand, are typically used for comparison. E.g. ‘I will write my sentence then check it’, concession, ‘He took his umbrella although it was sunny’, and condition, ‘I will give you the pocket money if you help me wash the car’.


Look out for: the fact that more than one conjunction can be used in a sentence.





Semi-colons are used to connect two strongly related ideas together, and are generally used when something stronger than a comma is required. Using semi-colons correctly indicates a secure grasp of higher level punctuation and usually helps to make writing more sophisticated.


They can link two independent clauses with a close theme, for example:


‘Some children like bananas; others prefer apples.’


They can link lists with items using commas (to avoid confusion), for example:


‘There are two main ways to create a painting: by sketching and then using watercolours, which is a popular method; or by using oil paints, which requires far more control and skill.’


They can link longer clauses to help avoid confusion, for example:


‘Many artists use natural brushes, water-based paints and canvas; but others, especially beginners, may use less expensive materials to start with.’


Finally, they can link clauses that use conjunctions or transitional phrases that connect clauses on a theme, for example:


‘But however they decide to create, artists all have their own style; as a result, we are rewarded with rich, artistic diversity.’


Look out for: whether the words ‘and’ or ‘but’ could be used instead of the semi-colon. If the answer is yes, then it’s likely that the semi-colon is correctly placed.


Prefixes and Suffixes



Prefixes and suffixes are sets of letters that are placed at the beginning (prefixes) or at the end (suffixes) of a word to create a new word with a different meaning. Prefixes such as un- and dis- change a word into its opposite. For example, happy becomes unhappy and interested becomes disinterested. Suffixes often change the class of a word, for example the verb ‘like’ is changed to the adjective ‘likeable’ and the noun ‘child’ becomes the adjective ‘childish’.


Recognising and using prefixes and suffixes not only gives a clearer understanding of word meaning, it can also help with spelling – particularly if the addition of certain prefixes or suffixes come with rules, such as removing the ‘y’ from happy and adding ‘i’ with the suffix ‘ness’ to form ‘happiness’.


Look out for: unusually spelt prefixes and suffixes, as well as those that require the root word to be changed in some way first.


The Active and Passive Voice



In a sentence that uses an action verb, the subject of the sentence performs the action. For example, in ‘The cat sat on the mat’. The cat is the subject and is carrying out the action of sitting on the mat. This is the active voice, as the subject is ‘active’ in carrying out the action. In the passive voice, the subject is no longer active, but is acted upon. So, ‘The cat sat on the mat’ in the active voice would become, ‘The mat was sat upon by the cat’. The relationship between the subject and the verb has changed and the active nature of the sentence is therefore now passive.


Look out for: confused meanings when active sentences become passive. Often, a change of word order or relationship between subject and verb can alter the meaning of the sentence, or at the very least make it harder to understand.


At Exam Papers Plus, we publish SATs practice tests that can help students prepare for the SPaG test. Our resources are fully up to date to match the style of the new SATs examinations in line with the recent changes to the National Curriculum. Our tests are reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they are current and accurate. Our SATs resources include:




Related posts:

SATs Arithmetic Paper: Essential Skills for Success

Sample Maths SATs Questions and Answers: Reasoning


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SATs Reasoning Paper 2: Essential Skills for Success

This is the second post in our series on SATs reasoning skills. If you haven’t already, you should read our first post SATs Reasoning Paper 1: Essential Skills for Success as an introduction to the first SATs reasoning paper.


The two reasoning papers rely heavily on a solid knowledge of several maths principles and rules. Not only are students expected to draw on their numeracy skills, but they also need to demonstrate skills in the following areas:



Although this seems like a huge task for the average eleven-year-old, they will of course have spent most of their primary school career learning all the necessary elements. Being able to recall these skills quickly and accurately is key. Twenty-three questions in 40 minutes leaves just under two minutes for each question on average.


In this post, we look at how to reinforce the skills needed for the second SATs Reasoning Paper.


Reading Timetables


Reading timetables is a skill that many children find difficult as it’s usually up to adults to make travel plans. As such, the ability to read timetables may require a little bit more practise to get right. Let’s look at an example:


SATs Reasoning Question 1


At first glance, the example above may seem fairly straightforward. William is travelling to Paris by train, and must be there by 5.30pm. However, not only are there two time period columns on this timetable, but they’re also in 24-hour time. In order to tackle this question, children will need to translate the times into 12-hour format in order to find the train that suits William’s requirements.


In this question, students may get confused by the different columns, or there could be a misunderstanding in reading the 24-hour time (some children may not recognise that 15:00 is 3pm and may confuse the ‘5’ within 15 for 5pm).


Practise at Home: Practise giving the times in both 12h and 24h formats. Look at timetables on the internet or pick up real copies from bus and train stations and use them to generate real life questions such as the one above.




Geometry is the area of mathematics concerned with points, lines, planes and dimensional work. It’s a very difficult area of the curriculum for a lot of children, particularly those with spatial issues or a poor understanding of position and direction.


SATS Reasoning Question 2


In the example above, a shape needs to be translated 7 to the right and 5 up. This means that each point on the shape will move 7 places to the right and then 5 upwards. This will ultimately move the shape from the bottom left quadrant to the top right.


There are several potential pitfalls when undertaking this question:


  • Reversing  ‘7 right and 5 up’ to ‘5 right and 7 up’
  • Forgetting to count the axis lines when counting
  • Reversing or otherwise altering the shape in some way
  • Translating one point and then guessing the others to save time
  • Misunderstanding the meaning of the word ‘translating’


Fluency in this area requires a keen eye and a lot of practice. It also requires a secure knowledge of some of the key vocabulary related to geometry.


Practise at Home: Draw a grid similar to the one above (a much larger version would be best). Draw simple shapes such as triangles and rectangles and practise translating them, without drawing. Recognise where the original points were by marking them on the grid and then identify the new points once the shape has moved.


Decimal Conversion


This question requires the child to understand and convert between decimals and fractions in order to compare them. Many children fall into the trap of looking at the numbers, without fully understanding their value, which causes them to miscalculate or not compare accurately.


SATs Reasoning 3


In the example above, the first fraction and decimal comparison relies on an understanding that 1 1/2 is actually greater than 1.2, as it converts to 1.5. However, many children struggle to recognise this as the digits are all the same. Developing skills in this area also relies on a good understanding of place value – a child who knows that the 0.2 element of 1.2 represents two tenths may have more of a chance at this kind of question.


Practise at Home: Use a calculator to show how 1/2  is essentially 1 ÷ 2 and therefore 0.5. Practise building numbers that have a decimal element in order to fully understand the values of decimal numbers.


Related posts:

SATs Reasoning Paper 1: Essential Skills for Success

SATs Arithmetic Paper 1: Essential Skills for Success

Sample Maths SATs Questions and Answers: Reasoning

Sample Maths SATs Questions and Answers: Arithmetic


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SATs Arithmetic Paper: Essential Skills for Success

There are many skills your child will need to master in order to have a real chance of success in the Mathematics SATs papers. In this post, we list the five key skills that could have a significant impact on how well your child performs in the arithmetic paper. As well as a description and break down of each skill, you’ll also find some helpful tips and advice on how to promote and develop each one at home.


Mental Maths Skills for SATs Arithmetic


There are 36 questions in the arithmetic paper and children are given 30 minutes to try to complete all the questions. This obviously doesn’t leave a great deal of time for using formal written calculations. Children are taught a wide variety of mental methods during KS1 and KS2, but many panic when in a formal testing environment. In most cases, children revert to a written method which they feel ‘safe’ with. Whilst this is likely to get them the correct answer, setting out the calculation will waste valuable seconds. Take the following example:


SATs Arithmetic Question 1


Some children may revert to using column addition to complete this calculation and, whilst that will almost certainly get them the answer, it’s also rather time consuming. Instead, it’s probably more efficient to add 700 to 1,800 (2,500) and then add the 7 and 18 (25) to achieve an answer of 2,525 in a matter of moments.


Practice at Home: Generate fairly large numbers and encourage your child to explore different ways of adding them together in their head, for example, adding in stages, counting up in hundreds and so on. The more they practice, the faster and more accurate their answers will be.


Decimal Calculation Skills for SATs Arithmetic


Using decimals successfully, often relies on a firm understanding of place value; in other words, recognising what each digit within the number stands for and adding or subtracting accordingly. The example below requires very little calculation, providing the child can recognise that the 0.7 in the first number is a tenth, and that the tenth column has no value. From here, it’s a straightforward case of adding the 2 and 3 and placing the 0.7 in the correct column to achieve and answer of 5.714


SATs Arithmetic Question 2


Practise at Home: Money is a good way to practise using decimals in a meaningful context: for example, £3.58 + £2.25 involves a child using two-place decimals without perhaps realising.


Make a grid that allows space for digit cards to be placed either side of the decimal point. Practise reading the numbers aloud to reinforce place value.


Factual Skills for SATs Arithmetic


Using known facts means using times table facts (or other facts such as addition and subtraction) in order to work out similar calculations using larger numbers. For example, in the question below, using 8 x 3 = 24 should help the child to work out 8 x 30 = 240. This means the entire calculation can be completed mentally, perhaps with a jotting of the two elements to the answer. Using known facts in this way is a really useful mental skill and will make solving multiplication questions in particular much easier.


SATs Arithmetic Question 3


Practice at Home: This kind of calculation can only really be solved if the times table knowledge is there in the first place. Regular, short bursts of practicing the times tables is essential for children to memorise them. Sing songs, play games and download apps to make the process more engaging.


Subtraction Skills for SATs Arithmetic


Here’s another example of a question where a child might revert to what they feel they know best, which is often the written method. Although they’re likely to get the right answer, it does take more time to set out a calculation correctly, time that could be better spent elsewhere. A good approach would be to imagine the two numbers on an empty number line and count up from the lowest to the highest to find the difference.


SATs Arithmetic Question 4


The jottings a child could make might look like this: from 824 to 900 = 76, from 900 to 912 = 12 and from 912 to 4,912 = 4000. 4000 + 76 + 12 = 4088.


Practice at Home: Draw an empty number line and use it to count up from the smaller to the larger number, making large jumps where possible.


BODMAS Skills for SATs Arithmetic


BODMAS (sometimes known as BIDMAS) is an accepted rule about the order in which a calculation should be completed. This consistent method ensures that two people attempting the same calculation should achieve the same answer.


B = Brackets

O = Order (also known as indices, hence ‘BIDMAS’)

D = Division

M = Multiplication

A = Addition

S = Subtraction


In the example shown, the calculation of 36 ÷ 6 should be completed first, as it is in brackets. It doesn’t matter that this is a division calculation, which would normally come last. The answer of 6 is then added to the 50, giving an answer of 56. Had the brackets not been used, the addition of 50 + 36 should have come first, followed by a division by 6, resulting in an answer of 14.33!


SATs Arithmetic Question 5


Practice at Home: Show your child how one simple number sentence can generate different answers unless BODMAS is applied.




Related posts:

SATs Reasoning Paper: Essential Skills for Success

Sample Maths SATs Questions and Answers: Reasoning

Sample Maths SATs Questions and Answers: Arithmetic

Frequently Asked Questions About the SATs Exam



As a parent of a primary school child, you’ll likely have questions about the SATs exams. In this article, we cover the most commonly-asked SATs questions to give you a better understanding of the tests.


What Are SATs?


SATs are national tests that children take twice in primary school across England. Key Stage 1 (KS1) SATs are taken in Year 2 and Key Stage 2 (KS2) SATs are taken at the end of Year 6.


Learn more about what SATs are in the UK.


What Do SATs Measure?


Every year, there’s a lot of discussion around the SATs true purpose, but their primary aim is to help teachers and parents learn more about a child’s strengths and weaknesses. The tests are an opportunity to see how much progress children have made at school.


As children across England take the same SATs exams, teachers can compare how well each child is doing compared with others. SATs results can be used to predict children’s future exam results and can also help to identify schools that need additional support.


Find out more about what UK SATs measure.


What Are the Different Sections in a SATs Exam?


Photo of a girl reading a book


KS1 SATs are split into the following sections:


  • Reading
  • English Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG)
  • Maths


Discover more about the different Key Stage 1 SAT exam sections.


KS2 SATs are split into the following subjects:


  • Reading
  • English Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG)
  • Maths


Learn more about the different Key Stage 2 SAT exam sections.


What SATs Preparation Materials Does My Child Need?


Useful prep materials for the SATs exam include:


Get more details about these preparation materials for SATs exams.


When Will I Know the Results from the SATs Exam?


KS2 SATs are externally marked and children should receive their results towards the end of the summer term in July of Year 6. You will receive a report that includes the following information:

  • Raw score – the actual number of marks your child received in their SATs
  • Scaled score – a conversion score that allows results to be compared year-on-year
  • Expected standard – whether or not they have achieved the national standard

For more information about SATs results, read our in-depth article on what SATs result mean.


What Level Should My Child be Achieving in Their SATs?


At both KS1 and Ks2 level, children are expected to reach the national standard.
The national standard score for both is 100. Learn more about this national standard at SAT level and what it means for your child.


Where Can I Find Help with SATs?


In order for your child to succeed in their SATs, it’s important to get them the right type of help. Our education blog is an excellent source of information for parents looking for SATs advice. Our parents’ guide to KS2 SATs offers practical information about how to help your child to succeed in the SATs exams.


You can also get help with SATs via a private SATs tutor and by introducing practice exam papers into your child’s revision sessions at home.


How Can I support My Child During Their SATs?


Photo of a boy reading with a teacher


SATs preparation in Year 6 can cause some anxiety for children, as it is likely to be the first time they will experience formal test conditions. As a parent, there is a lot you can do to support your child’s SATs preparation, including:



For more details, take a look at our post on how to support your child during their SATs preparation.


What Are the Benefits of Using SATs Practice Papers?


The key to success in the SATs exam is practice. By using practice papers, your child will be better prepared on exam day. Below are just some of the of using practice papers as part of your child’s exam preparation:


  • Improve time management
  • Identify knowledge gaps
  • Track progress
  • Recognise question types


We provide practice SATs papers are both KS1 and KS2 level:


Key Stage 1


 Key Stage 2


Learn more about the benefits of using practice papers for SATs.


How Can my Child Score Highly in the SATs?


There are a number of things you can do to help your child maximise their chances of gaining a high score in the SAT exams. It’s important not put too much pressure on them in the lead-up to the tests. Of course, identify and work on any weaker areas but always remain positive and encouraging. Avoid lengthy revision sessions and instead opt for shorter sessions to maintain their motivation for learning.


Start SATs revision early to build your child’s stamina well ahead of the actual tests and get your child into the habit of answering every question. Unanswered questions will result in no marks, so it’s always worth having a guess if they aren’t sure of the answer.


Score highly in the SATs test with our practical and effective advice.


If you have any further questions about the SATs exam, you will find a host of SATs-related articles on our blog that offer useful and easy-to-follow advice when preparing your child for their SATs.



Related Posts

SATs Advice for Parents

Key Stage 2 SATs: A Parent’s Guide



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SATs Problem Solving Advice



At SATs level, children are expected to identify patterns, predict sequences and use multi-step operations to answer questions. These all require good problem-solving ability. In this article, we offer some advice on improving your child’s problem-solving skills for both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 SATs.


While some children might initially struggle with problem solving, the good news is that you can incorporate this type of learning into your everyday life. Problem solving for SATs can be practiced both at home and when you’re out and about with the family.


Problem Solving at KS1


Problem solving isn’t just confined to the Maths SATs. Children need to have a good understanding of working out problems in a range of scenarios.


At KS1, it’s a good idea to create stories with your children in an effort to use their imagination and get them used to creating a structured tale, with a beginning, middle and end. This can be done anywhere and at any time, but children are often more imaginative when outside, so take a walk to the local park or beach to help stimulate their Creativity.


Similarly, when out and about, children love to collect objects such as pine cones or shells. Rather than throw them away when you get home, consider using them for maths games. These objects are ideal for counting and sorting games, so ask your child questions to get them thinking about solving simple problems.


In the Year 2 Maths SATs, children will be tested on the four main mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Using simple games with objects your child has found will make this type of learning more fun, thereby increasing your child’s motivation.


Problem Solving at KS2


For KS2 SATs taken in Year 6, children must show the ability to solve multi-level problems. These problems will have more than one ‘step’, meaning children must use multiple operations in order to work out the answer.


Children at KS2 will sit three maths SATs papers, one in arithmetic and two in reasoning. Across all three papers, children will have to show their multistep problem-solving skills in some way. Children will be tested on measures, questioned about money calculations and will be required to use fractions, decimals and percentages.


You can encourage SATs problem solving learning at home by setting your child the task of cooking a meal for your family. This will require them to think about meal planning and budgeting, two tasks that might feature in KS2 SATs. Choose a recipe together, provide your child with a budget and buy the ingredients. Children should be thinking about how many people will be eating, the budget and any dietary requirements.


Next, your child should work out timings for preparation and cooking. Time intervals are a key problem-solving exercise, as children must give their answers in minutes and/or hours. A typical question could be:


It is 4.05 pm. Food preparation will take 35 minutes and it takes 55 minutes to cook. What time will we be eating dinner?


Using meals as a problem-solving exercise can be an enjoyable task for older children, as it doesn’t feel like standard learning and can increase their confidence as an independent thinker.


Of course, maths isn’t just about counting and sums, children also need to be good at thinking visually and be able to solve problems with patterns and shapes. Using collected objects, you can make a group and ask your child to spot the odd one out. In this task, they will have to think about colour, shape, pattern and size.


All of these activities can be done again and again and when incorporated into a child’s normal routine, can be fun and interesting. Implementing this advice at home will encourage your child to improve their problem-solving skills and help get them prepared for their SATs.


Our SATs resources




Related Posts:

Key Stage 2 SATs: A Parent’s Guide

SATs Mental Maths Strategies



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KS2 SATs Spelling Advice



The KS2 spelling paper has been designed to test the spelling ability of children in Year 6. The spellings in the test are taken from the current National Curriculum, and in particular, they’re an appendix to the main English curriculum, which outlines all the spelling rules and word groups children are expected to know by this stage.


The spelling element of the KS2 English SATs exam is delivered in the form of an answer booklet which contains twenty sentences, each missing a word. The teacher administering the test reads each word aloud, followed by a sentence that uses that word (which corresponds to the sentence in the answer booklet). The sentence is read again and there’s a short gap to allow the children to write their answers.


For example:


Spelling 1: The word is likely.

Sam is likely to play football at playtime.

The word is likely.


Children are given approximately fifteen minutes to complete the test, although this is not as strictly timed as the other tests.


The possible spelling patterns or rules that may be covered are diverse, as children in KS1 and KS2 are given extensive instruction and guidance on a wide range of strategies and rules. Listed below are some examples of potential spelling patterns or rules, along with some examples of each:


Common Exception Words


Common exception words are taught from Year 1 and don’t fall into any common spelling pattern or follow a particular rule. It’s usually harder to ‘sound out’ these words and so they’re often taught as ‘sight words’, or words that just have to be memorised in some way.


Examples: school, friend, father, nuisance, symbol


Adding Suffixes Beginning with Vowel Letters


This rule relies on the child recognising that the last syllable of the word is a stressed (or emphasised) sound. If the word also ends with a single vowel and then a single consonant, the final consonant is doubled before adding a suffix that begins with a vowel. The consonant is only doubled if the last syllable is stressed.


Examples: forgetting, beginner, preferred


The sound Spelt ‘Ou’


These words are common in our vocabulary and may be taught in separate groups, or as part of other spelling patterns.


Examples: young, touch, double, trouble, country


Words with the sound Spelt ‘Ch’


Again, these words may be taught discretely, or they may even form part of topic work, as many of them are Greek in origin.


Examples: scheme, chorus, chemist, echo, character


Words with the sound Spelt ‘Sc’


Many of these words have Roman origin, so they may also be taught as part of topic work. It’s thought that the original pronunciation of these words could have sounded the ‘c’ and the ‘k’ separately as ‘s’ and ‘k’.


Examples: science, scene, discipline, fascinate, crescent


Homophones and Near-Homophones


Homophones are words that sound the same as other words, but are spelt differently. They are tricky to master, and are one of the more difficult elements of the English language.


Examples: groan/grown, here/hear, heel/heal/he’ll, knot/not, mail/male, main/mane, meat/meet, medal/meddle, missed/mist, peace/piece


Words ending in –cious or –tious


These words are less common but are difficult to spell accurately – children often use the two endings interchangeably and therefore, they’re easy to get wrong. Usually, if the root word ends with –ce, the ‘cious’ ending is used, although there are exceptions to this.


Examples: vicious, precious, conscious, delicious, cautious, fictitious, infectious, nutritious


Words ending in –able and –ible


Generally speaking, the –able/–ably endings are far more common than the –ible/–ibly endings.


There are several rules to be applied when deciding on which ending is appropriate but, as with many spelling patterns in our language, not all of the spellings follow the rule and some simply have to be learned by heart.


Examples: adorable/adorably, applicable/applicably, changeable, noticeable, forcible, legible, possible/possibly, horrible/horribly


There are obviously many more spelling rules to be learnt over both Key Stages. Children should be encouraged to look for patterns, devise ways of remembering words that don’t follow any rules and recognise words that they know how to spell within their reading books. Grouping words that follow a particular rule, devising personal spelling dictionaries and rewriting words are just a few ways to help children develop their spelling abilities.


Our SATs Resources



At Exam Papers Plus, we publish SATs practice exam papers for children at KS1 and KS2 level. The practice tests cover every aspect of the exam process including Mathematics, Reading and English grammar, punctuation and spelling (SPAG). Each practice paper also comes with a full mark scheme so you can check your child’s answers and monitor their progress.


SATs practice papers are a great way for students to familiarise themselves with the layout of the exam and to get used to the types of spelling questions they may be asked. These practice tests are completely up-to-date to match the style of the new SATs examinations in line with the recent changes to the National Curriculum. They’re also reviewed and updated regularly to ensure their accuracy and relevancy.



For additional spelling practice, you may also want to try our 11 Plus English Spelling pack. This set of practice tests can provide a more challenging resource for children at KS2 SAT level.



Related posts:

The SATs Reading Comprehension Test: What You Need to Know

SATs Reading Tips

SATs Grammar Test Advice



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How to Tutor SATs

To be a good SATs tutor, you should be fully prepared for the challenge your students will face in the tests. In this article, we share some practical advice on how to tutor for the SATs.


Create a Study Plan Specific to Each Student


Every child is different. When it comes to tutoring for the SATs, you must build a study plan that is tailor-made for individual students, rather than adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This study plan should be created early on, to allow enough time to cover all the SATs topics. Discuss the plan with your students’ parents, as they will have a better idea of their child’s typical routine and can offer guidance and insight.


When creating a study plan, tutors should:


  • Encourage short, regular study sessions – these make it easier for children to maintain their motivation, as opposed to long, more irregular study sessions.
  • Find the right learning strategy for each student. As a tutor, it is your duty to ensure that the study plan is tailored to each student’s needs and includes a mix of learning techniques that will resonate with the student. For example, if the student has a particular interest in writing, note-taking could be a beneficial learning technique.


Learn the Exam Format


Photo of children learning in a classroom


To be an effective SAT tutor, you need to have an excellent understanding of the material that you’re tutoring. This means learning as much as you can about the SATs and, in turn, making sure your students are familiar with the exam format.


In an early session with your student, cover the basics: how long the tests are, how many questions they will be required to answer and the difference between different sections in the SATs exam. In order to tutor children for their SATs, you must know exactly what your student should expect to see on the test papers and have a solid grasp of both the question formats and subjects covered in the tests.
In Year 6, children sit SATs exams that cover the following subjects:



Exam practice papers are an effective way to help students become more familiar with the SATs exam layout and question types.


For Year 6 students, we would recommend the following resources for SATs exam practice:



Practice Papers Under Timed Conditions


While SATs exams are relatively short time-wise, they do require children to read texts quickly, and answer questions confidently. For many students at this stage, it will be the first time that they have had to sit a test under timed conditions. Therefore, many students that come to you for tutoring might not have any experience of time management or its importance in the SATs.


You can test a child’s existing time management skills by asking them to sit a practice paper under timed conditions. If they run out of time before answering all the questions, it is likely that you will need to dedicate tutoring time to working on their time management. Similarly, if they finish the practice test too early, they might have missed a question, or not answered each one in full and therefore lose marks.


Practice SAT exam papers give children necessary practice ahead of the exam and provide you with immediate feedback after completion, allowing you to track their progress.


Set Tutoring Goals


Photo of a girl writing on a desk


It’s a good idea to establish what students (and their parents) are hoping to achieve from the tuition. It’d be easy to assume that all parents are simply interested in their child getting ‘a high SATs score’, but you might be surprised; it could be that they would like their child to focus on  improving their concentration, or to become more motivated ahead of the SATs.


It’s impossible for all students to achieve top scores in the SATs, so setting achievable goals that work for both students and their parents will give you something to work towards in your tutoring sessions.


Do Not Leave a Question Unanswered


Previous SATs have shown that many children are opting to leave the harder questions unanswered, rather than tackle them. When tutoring children for SATs, it is important to encourage them continually to answer all questions, whether they believe that they know the answer or not.


Harder questions are usually worth the most marks, so children are missing out on potentially higher scores. Tutoring children to attempt every question on the test sets them up with a greater chance of achieving a high score.


Your students are likely to perform better in the SATs if they are confident, so help to build that confidence during your tutoring sessions. If students believe that they can do well in the exam, they are much more likely to perform at their best on the day. Acknowledge when a student has performed well and they will be motivated to keep receiving positive feedback.



Related posts:

SATs Tips for Tutors

Study Tips for the SATs Exam



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How to Help Your Child Prepare for their SATs Exam

Primary school SATs tests can be an anxious time for children and their parents. However, as a parent or guardian there is plenty you can do at home to prepare your child for the exams. In this article, we share some advice on how to teach key strategies to help your child in the SATs.


Mental Maths Should be Routine


At KS2 level, pupils are required to complete three maths papers: one in arithmetic and two in reasoning. In all three papers, they will need to demonstrate good mental maths skills, so encouraging your child to ‘think on their feet’ should become part of their daily routine when revising for the SATs.


There are plenty of easy ways to teach the necessary skills for mental maths in everyday life. For example, put children in charge of checking shopping receipts to make sure they add up, or count change to test their addition skills. Mental maths can be difficult for some children to grasp, but if you teach them to focus on the numbers and concentrate on which calculation is required, they will soon begin to find the correct answers.


Skimming and Scanning of Texts


Photo of a girl writing in a notebook on a desk


In the English reading comprehension SAT, children are given one hour to read the text and complete the questions in the accompanying answer booklet. As the text can be quite long, pupils often find that they don’t have enough time to complete the whole paper after reading it through. Teaching your child how to extract key information from texts using skimming and scanning will really help improve their time management skills.


Skimming and scanning involves locating important information by focusing on headings and sub-headings in order to find the relevant sentences that contain the answers the examiner is looking for.


Understand Weighted Marks


When it comes to teaching for the SATs from home, parents should make their children aware of the weighting of the marks against each question. The more straightforward questions are usually awarded one mark, whereas more complex or longer answers are awarded two, or even three marks.


Of course, children should always aim to answer all the questions on the paper, but they should pay particularly close attention to questions that are worth more marks.


Expand Vocabulary


Photo of a boy reading a book on a desk


In the English SAT, children must be able to use a variety of sentences and so will need a good vocabulary. When teaching for the SAT, encourage your child to create a vocabulary list, made up of new words, or any words that they don’t recognise. If a child is unable to work out a word’s meaning from its context, that word should be added to the list.


With practice, children will learn to understand the meaning of the word and use it correctly in a sentence. Once they have achieved this, move on to a new list of words. Try to ensure that your child always has a ‘new words’ list on the go. Reading is one of the best ways of improving vocabulary, so take a look at our SATs Reading Tips post for more advice.


Use Practice Exam Papers


Practice exam papers are one of the best resources parents can use when preparing for SATs. Not only can they help familiarise your child with the layout of the exams, the can also quickly highlight where your child’s strengths and weaknesses lie.


Our SATs practice papers come complete with marking schemes that enable you to check your child’s answers and track their progress in the lead up to the exam. At Exam Papers Plus, we have several SATs resources that will help your child prepare for the tests:


Key Stage 1 SATs Practice Test 1

Key Stage 1 SATs Practice Test 2


Key Stage 2 SATs Practice Test 1

Key Stage 2 SATs Practice Test 2


Previous SATs have shown that students tend to score less in questions that are placed towards the end of the test paper. This could indicate that pupils are often struggling to manage their time correctly.


Practice papers can help your child improve their time management skills, by giving them the experience of gauging how quickly they need to answer each type of question. When teaching SATs skills, you should set your child the task of completing each test paper with ten minutes to spare, so they can return to any unanswered questions.


Answer All Questions


Too often, children leave the harder questions unanswered. As the difficult questions are usually worth the most marks, children are missing out on potentially higher scores. Try to encourage your child to answer as many questions as possible. An unanswered question will of course receive no mark, but if your child aims to write some form of an answer, even if it is a complete guess, they might pick up the odd mark or two.


Parents are well-placed to help their children prepare for the SATs exam at home. As with all exams, practice makes perfect, so make good use of our practice SATs papers to easily track your child’s progress in the countdown to exam day.


Related posts:

Key Stage 2 SATs: A Parent’s Guide

SATs Advice for Parents


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SATs Mental Maths Strategies

Although there is no longer a ‘formal’ mental arithmetic element to the KS2 SATs, there are still a good many opportunities for children in Year 6 to demonstrate their ability to quickly manipulate numbers mentally.


In Paper 1 particularly, there are likely to be several questions where mentally calculating the answer is preferable to formally writing it out. Mentally calculating answers saves time, enabling children to work through the paper quicker. In total, there are 36 questions in Paper 1 that need to be answered in 30 minutes, giving an average of only 50 seconds per question!


Below are some examples from the 2017 paper, showing how a good grasp of mental strategies is key to succeeding in this area:


SATs Mental Maths Sample Question 1


Although it may sometimes be instinctive for children to write out the calculation, particularly if they find maths difficult, this question is a good example of where a secure understanding of place value is essential.


Once the child has established the value of each digit within both numbers (and recognised that although the second number is longer than the first, it will not affect how the calculation happens), they should be able to simply add 3 and 2, and insert the 0.7 into the currently ‘empty’ tenths position, giving an answer of 5.714.


The potential pitfall here could come if the child does not recognise the values of the digits within each number, or writes the calculation out, but misaligns the values of the digits, resulting in an incorrect answer.


SATs Mental Maths Sample Question 2


At first, this may seem like a simple calculation. However, the ‘reverse’ nature of this addition may prove confusing for some children, particularly those who only recognise the symbol ‘=’ as meaning ‘is the answer’ and not its true meaning of ‘the same as’ or ‘equal to’.


In other words, it’s effectively a balance scale, with one side of the number sentence having the same value as the other. As the total of the two numbers on the right of the calculation is 5,100, this should be the answer in the empty box.


SATs Mental Maths Sample Question 3


This may seem like quite a difficult calculation but it’s actually a good example of the kind of mental multiplication expected of KS2 children today. Once children have learned their times tables well, they are encouraged to expand their use, using place value in order to complete calculations using larger numbers.


In this example, a child who understands 8 x 3 = 24, should also understand that 8 x 30 = 240. Adding those two components together would achieve the correct answer of 264.


A child with less-secure times table/place value knowledge may instead rely upon simpler facts, such as 10 x 8 (three times) + 3 x 8. Bearing in mind the limited time allowed to complete each question, the first method is more efficient.


SATs Mental Maths Sample Question 4


Again, some children may fall into the trap of setting out this calculation in a formal way, using columns and the decomposition method. This would likely take longer than 50 seconds to complete, so it would be faster to mentally calculate by subtracting 824 in stages.


Firstly, 4,912 – 800 is 4,112. The final stages could either be 4,112 – 20 (4,092) and then 4,092 – 4 = 4,088 or in one final calculation of 4,112 – 24.


SATs Mental Maths Sample Question 5


Another example of a question relying on the child’s understanding of the ‘=’ sign and its meaning. In this calculation, making both sides of the number sentence have the same value means finding a number which, when 100 is subtracted, results in 1,059. In other words, the initial number should be 100 more than 1,059, which is 1,159.


SATs Mental Maths Sample Question 6


This is another example of a question that may initially seem like it needs to be written out formally but can, in actual fact, be solved more speedily with mental calculation. In this case, a strong knowledge of the seven times table and a good understanding of place value are needed. Knowing that 7 x 8 = 56 should help the child conclude that 7 x 80 = 560. The remaining 21 is, of course, 7 x 3, giving a final answer of 83.


This question can therefore be calculated using multiplication facts and not formal division, which many children find difficult. Children would, of course, need to understand the concept division being a grouping of the same number and recognise its relationship to multiplication.


SATs Mental Maths Sample Question 7


Being able to mentally manipulate decimal numbers is a key skill and requires a secure understanding of the value of each digit. Furthermore, in this question, an understanding of number bonds, or pairs that equal 100, would also be useful.


Some children may transfer this question to a number line (with 3.45 on the left and 9 on the right) and use it to find the difference between the two numbers. It is also possible (and faster) to calculate the answer by recognising that 0.55 is added to 3.45 to get to 4, and then a further 5 is added to get to 9, giving a total answer of 5.55.


This could be achieved either entirely through mental calculation, or at the very least through the jotting of the number needed at each stage.


There are countless ways to solve mental calculations, and everyone has a preferred method. The method itself is not really the key issue here, but rather the ability to see how numbers can be manipulated mentally and without the need for formal methods of calculation. This ability will not only give the child confidence, it will crucially save them valuable seconds, which should leave a little extra time to answer the harder questions.



Related posts:

KS2 SATs Maths: What You Need to Know

Sample Maths SATs Questions and Answers: Reasoning


SATs Revision Games



SATs revision is necessary, but some children can find it boring and soon become distracted or demotivated. That’s where revision games come in! When used as one of a number of learning techniques, games can make SATs revision in Year 6 more fun. In this article, we’ve collated some of the best SATs revision games.


Book Character Roleplay


This is a fantastic game for children who love to perform and be active. Get your child to pick a character from a book to ‘play’ during a fun session of learning. Parents can choose to play another character from the same book, or opt to be a stranger that meets the child’s character for the first time. Ask them questions about themselves, prompting children to remember key facts about the character.


This role-playing game can be a lot of fun and can help your child to improve their English comprehension ahead of the Year 6 SATs. Teacher role-playing – in which the child takes on the role of teacher – is also a good revision game for primary school children.


Mental Maths Card Games


Photo of cards on a table


A simple pack of playing cards can provide one of the most versatile SATs revision games for children in Year 6, especially for helping to improve their mental maths. They are fun, informal and are great mental arithmetic practice for SATs. For example, try these revision games using a deck of cards:


For addition


Players turn up two/three/four cards in each round. The highest sum wins.


For multiplication


Turn up two cards and multiply. Make this more difficult by turning three or four cards over and multiplying.


Similar games can also be created to include division and subtraction. As children will be tested on these basic operations in their SATs, it’s important that they feel confident with them heading into the exam.


Revision Quizzes


Quizzes make excellent revision games for SATs, as they don’t feel like typical revision and can be a lot of fun for both parents and children. To add an element of competition (which many Year 6 children will enjoy), write a selection of questions that relate to the topic your child is currently revising. Write the answers on the back of the same pieces of paper.


Mix up the question difficulty and include a few easier questions that will boost your child’s confidence and give them the motivation to try and answer the more difficult questions.


Record Key Facts


Photo of a boy writing on a notepad


If your child is primarily an auditory learner, making a selection of voice recordings can help them to recall information for their SATs. Children can record their revision notes on anything from a dictaphone to a smartphone – essentially, any recording device they can regularly access.


Voice recordings are best used when your child finds it difficult to get motivated. Get them to listen to their recordings as a way of kickstarting their revision session. While we wouldn’t recommend this type of passive learning for all SATs revision, it will teach children to retain and recall information on exam day.


Flashcard Spelling Game


For Year 6 SATs, your child will have to demonstrate a solid grasp of English vocabulary and spelling, making this flashcard game a must when revising for the SATs.


The game is best used for words your child consistently struggles with. Create flashcards with all the words on their ‘must practice’ list. Once they’ve created all the flashcards, test them on their spelling by having them write the word down or speaking it aloud.


Revise Against the Clock


Photo of an egg timer


If your child is struggling to concentrate during their SATs revision sessions, the Egg Timer Game (also known as the Pomodoro Technique) offers your child an incentive at the end of a dedicated, previously-agreed, revision period.


Set some goals with your child and assign a specific reward for when each period is complete. This reward needn’t be anything big, or expensive – for example, for every 20 minutes of uninterrupted revision, your child gets 10 minutes to play in the garden or chat to their friends online.


Although this is a good game for Year 6 SATs revision, children must understand that its aim is to improve their knowledge and learning ahead of the SATs – not simply an opportunity to receive treats.


When used as part of a wider revision programme, SATs revision games for Year 6 are a useful development tool, so if your child responds well to them, make time to include them in their revision sessions.



Related posts:

SATs Revision Made Easy

SATs Preparation in Year 6



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