SATs Exam Preparation Tips and Strategies



If your child has their SATs exams coming up, it’s vital for them to feel positive, confident and fully prepared for the tests. In this article, we outline a selection of the best SATs exam tips and strategies.


Prepare Well in Advance


Don’t worry about your child starting their SATs revision ‘too early’. The sooner they start revising, the more likely they are to cover all the required topics for their exam. For SATs, consider starting your child’s revision at least six to nine months ahead of the actual test. This might seem early, but it will give your child plenty of time to get to grips with what’s required of them and to improve any weaker areas.


Revise Little and Often


Children under the age of twelve are able to concentrate for around 20 minutes at a time before they start to lose their focus. At home, try to plan shorter bursts of study time to ensure that your child gives their full attention to the task at hand and doesn’t become distracted. Using a revision timetable, mark out 20-minute revision blocks, gradually increasing the time period to 30 minutes once they have an established routine and are responding well to regular revision.


Try Visual Aids


Photo of a laptio and a notebook


Lots of children respond well to visual aids when it comes to studying for exams. Visual aids can include flashcards, post-it notes and mind maps – in fact, anything that provides a visual reference and aids their studying. A simple approach is to write keywords or relevant mathematical formulas on flashcards or post-it notes and place them around the house. When your child comes across one, encourage them to expand on the keyword, or do a short maths question. These visual aids are a great way of testing your child’s memory ahead of the SATs exam.


If your child would respond better to mind mapping, check out this short video on how to create them:



Take Notes


Note taking is a more traditional strategy for revision, but one that can be very effective in getting your child to recall important information in their SATs exam. Children who enjoy reading and writing are most likely to benefit from this learning strategy and it can be a fun task.


Rather than simply rewriting text passages word for word, note taking is an important study skill that requires children to record essential information that can be accessed at a later date.


If your child struggles to grasp note taking initially, encourage them to use a highlighter to mark out the most relevant information first.


Use Exam Practice Papers




One of the best SATs exam tips we can share is to provide your child with practice exam papers well ahead of exam day. While revising exam material is important, your child should develop a good exam technique to ensure they perform as well as possible in the test.


To begin with, work through practice SATs papers with your child to ensure that they fully understand each question and have an idea of the type of question they are being asked.


Once they are familiar with the layout of the exam, encourage them to sit a few practice papers on their own, under exam conditions. Not only will this improve their time management skills, it will also identify their strengths and weaknesses – enabling you to allocate additional time to learning where necessary.


Provide Study Incentives


We know that for some children, being asked to do additional revision for their SATs on top of their usual school work is a step too far, so incentives can be a good way to motivate them. If you do choose to use incentives as a SATs exam strategy, you must follow through with your promises. Fail to deliver and it won’t work again!


As a parent, you know which incentives will work best for your child, but here are some suggestions you could try:


  • Time on the internet
  • A trip to the local park to play sport
  • Time playing video games
  • A sweet treat


Make Time for Breaks


Photo of kids playing football


Breaks are just as important to your child’s SATs exam success as their study sessions. All work and no play can lead to your child being demotivated and burned out, both of which could have a very negative impact on their SATs performance.


If your child is distracted during their revision sessions, make a mutual agreement that if they concentrate on a task for just 20 minutes, they will have a set amount of leisure time. Encourage them to do something active during their breaks, such as playing outdoors, rather than remaining at their desk or staring at a screen, as this will put them in a better frame of mind for when they return to study.


These SATs exam preparation tips will put your child in a good position ahead of their test. In most cases, a combination of several learning strategies is the most effective way for your child to retain information ahead of their SATs exam.



Related posts:
How to Score Highly in the SATs Tests
The Benefits of Using SATs Practice Papers



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Sample Maths SATs Questions and Answers: Reasoning



The second part in our series on Maths SATS questions and answers, this post looks at the Reasoning part of the exam. Alongside our sample SATs arithmetic questions, these examples can be used to help your child prepare for their Maths SATs tests.


The following examples have been chosen to provide a general overview of the types of reasoning questions that your child may come across on exam day. We’ve also included sample answers and full explanations to help you understand what the examiners are looking for. All questions are taken from the most recent tests, which were administered this year.


Maths SATs Reasoning Sample Question 1


Maths Sample SATs Question


The SATs reasoning papers are designed to test a child’s ability to apply their understanding of all areas of mathematics. They also aim to test their ability to select relevant information and present answers in a correct context. The question above expects the student to be able to add and subtract numbers in the thousands, once they have recognised that there are two stages to the question. They should show their working out as a mark may be awarded for doing so, even if the answer provided is incorrect.


In most cases, it’s usually the student’s inability to extract the key information that results in them giving an incorrect answer for this type of question.


Maths SATs Reasoning Sample Question 2


Maths Sample SATs Question


This question focuses on equivalent fractions. Children may easily recognise 3 | 4 when the shape is divided into four equal parts and three are shaded. What they should also recognise, is that six out of eight, nine out of twelve and twelve out of sixteen all have the same value as three out of four. They should also recognise that those shaded sections do not necessarily need to be next to each other.


One thing to watch out for here is the shape in the top right-hand corner – although three sections are shaded, it is three out of six, not three out of four.


Maths SATs Reasoning Sample Question 3


Maths Sample SATs Question


This question is a straightforward test of the student’s understanding of the language of geometry. ‘Faces’ are the flat surfaces that make up a three-dimensional shape, and ‘vertices’ are the points where two or more edges meet. If that knowledge is secure, this is a fairly straightforward question!


Maths SATs Reasoning Sample Question 4


Maths Sample SATs Question


This is a question about scale and proportion. Again, it is a multi-step question. The child should first recognise that 1cm on a map represents 20km. They should then demonstrate evidence of an appropriate method, such as 250 ÷ 20 to achieve an answer of 12.5cm.


Other indications that the child has understood what the question is asking of them may include the following: 20km is 1cm, 100km is 5cm, 50km is 2.5cm. 5cm + 5cm + 2.5cm = 12.5cm. Once again, showing the method is important, as it may achieve a mark even if the answer is incorrect. It’s worth noting however, that a correct answer provided without any method would achieve the full two marks.


Maths SATs Reasoning Sample Question 5


Maths Sample SATs Question


The ability to extract information from charts and graphs is an important skill, and one area that many children find extremely difficult. This may have something to do with the way the data is presented and could also link to how relevant the information is to the child. This example is all to do with temperature changes over a period of time. Although many children may understand the concept, it isn’t perhaps a daily feature of a Year 6 child’s life.


There is a lot of information here, with the two axes showing the time and change in temperature. The expectation is that the student can pinpoint the temperature at certain times during the period shown, and use the data they identify to answer the questions.


Maths SATs Reasoning Sample Question 6


Maths Sample SATs Question


This is another example of a question set in context, although this time using a timetable. Although children will be taught how to read timetables accurately, this question not only relies on their ability to read the timings, but also their ability to make a decision based on factors.


William needs to arrive in Paris by 5.30pm and therefore the 14.01 train is the latest he should take. The potential stumbling block here would be if the child cannot translate times between twelve hours and twenty-four hours – although the question is asked using ‘pm’ the timetable is written using the twenty-four-hour clock.


Maths SATs Reasoning Sample Question 7


Maths Sample SATs Question


This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions in both reasoning papers. It relies on the child’s ability to manipulate numbers and, in actual fact, use algebraic equations to solve a problem.


If the child recognises that 18 + 9 + 2 widths = 34 + 1 width, or that 27 + 2 widths = 34 + 1 width (or even that 27 + 1 width = 34), then they should be able to conclude that 34 – 27 = 7, which is the width of one tile. In effect, they are using algebra: 34 + w = 18 + w + 9 + w or 34 + w = 27 + w + w.



Related posts:

What Are the Different Sections in a SATs Exam?

What Are Optional SATs?



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Sample Maths SATs Questions and Answers: Arithmetic



The maths SATs papers cover the entire breadth of the subject across both Key Stages. Children taking the paper can expect to come up against a wide variety of question types, ranging from straightforward arithmetic to more complex, multi-step problems.


The following examples have been chosen to give you a good understanding of the types of questions that your child may face on the day of the test. We’ve also included some hints and tips for maximising the potential of scoring full marks on each one. All questions are taken from the most recent tests, which were administered this year.


Maths SATs Sample Question 1


Maths SATs Sample Q1


Initially, this might seem like a straightforward addition question. However, bearing in mind that there are 36 questions in the arithmetic paper and that children only have 30 minutes to answer them all, the question actually requires swift working.


In the given example, children may default to writing out the calculation using a formal written method (column addition). However, this can take precious seconds to do. A more effective alternative would be to answer the question using mental calculation/jottings. For example, if the child can count in hundreds, they could start at 1,800 and count on seven hundreds: 1,900, 2,000 (at this point they may even be able to add the remaining five hundreds) 2,500. 18 + 7 = 25, and adding this to the previous total would give 2,525.


This kind of mental agility is extremely beneficial when faced with apparently ‘simpler’ question types and may save valuable time that can be used later, on much harder questions.


Maths SATs Sample Question 2


Maths SATs Sample Q2


Again, here is an opportunity to save valuable time. Setting this calculation out in a formal way would take quite a lot of effort, as well as increasing the risk of making a mistake (either in the setting out or in using the decomposition method).


If a child recognises that 60 is the same as 45 + 15, they can complete the subtraction in two stages: 345 – 45 = 300. 300 – 15 = 285.


When checking the calculation, children should aim to use the inverse, or opposite operation, i.e. 285 + 60 = 345.


Maths SATs Sample Question 3


Maths SATs Sample Q3


This question relies on a secure understanding of the BIDMAS rule for operations, whereby the order of a calculation should be Brackets, Indices, Division, Multiplication, Addition and finally, Subtraction. For the calculation shown, everything within the brackets should be calculated first, so 36 ÷ 6 = 6, and then the addition, 50 + 6.


Maths SATs Sample Question 4


Maths SATs Sample Q4


Solving this calculation relies on an understanding of the rules of fractions. In this particular case, we cannot add the fractions together as they have different denominators. To find a common denominator, the child should find the lowest common multiple of all three denominators (in this case 20).


They should then adjust each numerator by recognising what happened to the denominator to turn it into 20. For example, to turn 4 into 20, it must be multiplied by 5.


The same operation should be carried out on the numerator, meaning the 1 should be multiplied by 5 also, resulting in a fraction of 5|20. This rule is applied to all three fractions, resulting in three which have a common denominator of 20.


The fractions can then be added together and the resulting answer of 11|20 is in its lowest form, requiring no further adjustment.


Maths SATs Sample Question 5


Maths SATs Sample Q5


There are two main ways to solve this calculation, and both require a secure understanding of place value. The first method could be to recognise that 0.9 x 2 = 1.8 and then, as the 2 is actually 100 times larger, the answer would be 180.


The second way of solving the question could be to calculate 0.9 x 100 and then to double the answer. Again, children who may be tempted to write out the calculation in a more formal way should consider the time this may take and try a mental approach if possible.


Maths SATs Sample Question 6


Maths SATs Sample Q6


This question is worth two marks – two marks would be awarded for an entirely correct answer (even without any working out shown!) or, in the event of an incorrect answer, one mark may be awarded for a correct method applied to the working out.


The most likely method here would be to use ‘chunking’, or repeated subtraction of groups of 59 until there is a result of either zero or a remainder. Children should try to use easier groupings of the number and recognise that if they know 10 x 59 = 590, then 5 x 59 would be 295 and 20 x 59 would be 1080.


The fastest and most straightforward method for most children might be 20 x 59, 10 x 59, 5 x 59, 3 x 59 (or possibly 1 x 59 three times) to achieve an answer of 38.


Hopefully, the explanations of these arithmetic SATs questions have provided you with some insight into the level your child will be expected to achieve in their exam. As time is of the essence, it’s important that students identify time-saving methods to answer questions.


Our SATs Resources


In order to give your child the best chance of performing well in their SATs, you should consider giving them extra practice with SATs practice exam papers. At Exam Papers Plus, we have a range of SATs papers that cover the entire SATs curriculum, including the Maths elements.


Not only are our practice papers up-to-date, but the contain detailed marking schemes, so you can chart your child’s progress throughout their studying. To help your child prepare for the Maths SATs exams, we’d recommend the following resources:


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



Related posts:

SATs Grammar Test Advice

How to Score Highly in the SATs Tests



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What Are Optional SATs?



Many parents might not be aware that children in Year 6 are frequently assessed during the Key Stage 2 curriculum, but it is only the results of the Year 6 SATs that are nationally recorded. In England, some primary school assessments in Year 3, 4 and 5 can take the form of ‘optional’ SATs. In this article, we explain more about what these optional SATs are, who takes them and why they exist.


What Are Optional SATs?


Optional SATs are tests taken in English primary schools in Years 3, 4 and 5. They are called ‘optional’ because schools do not have to use this form of assessment. Taken in the years that children do not have to sit official SATs, they are used by schools to check if pupils are on track to deliver the expected standard in their Year 6 SATs.


There are two papers available for optional SATs, which focus on Maths and English (reading and writing).


Do All Schools Use Optional SATs?


All UK primary schools have a responsibility to assess their pupils’ progress towards the end of each school year. Due to a number of changes within the National Curriculum in 2014 and new SATs in more recent years, some English primary schools use the optional SATs from Year 3, as these papers acknowledge the new curriculum.


These optional SATs do not replace ongoing teacher assessments, such as observation or regular classroom work, they are simply another opportunity to gauge pupil progress throughout their primary school life.


If They Are ‘Optional’ SATs, Why Should My Child Do Them?


Photo of two girls writing on a piece of paper


As a parent, you are bound to be concerned if you think your child is being put under pressure to sit optional tests; that is perfectly understandable. However, there are several reasons why schools use these optional SATs – many of which will be of benefit to your child and their learning. These include:


  • Optional SATs give teachers accurate information about pupil progress. This will help with target-setting for classes in your child’s next school year, ensuring a relevant and appropriate learning environment.
  • Optional SATs can help to identify any pupils who are not progressing at the expected rate. Once this is recognised, teachers can offer extra support to those pupils as and when needed.
  • Similar to practice SAT papers, optional SATs can help to familiarise children with the structure and format of SATs. As per the KS2 tests, optional SATs are usually taken under exam conditions. Although this can be difficult for some children in Years 3, 4 and 5, it is important that they learn correct exam techniques ahead of the SATs in Year 6.


Do Parents Receive Results from Optional SATs?


Photo of three boys sitting in a classroom


Yes, but the results parents receive depends on the individual schools. While some primary schools choose to give parents results from the optional SATs, most provide a combined level based on the SATs results and teacher assessment.
This combined result sometimes shows that some children do not respond well to exam conditions and may not have performed as well as teachers know they can. By using a variety of assessments, parents will get a better idea of their child’s current attainment level.


How Can Parents Support Children with Optional SATs?


Your child should cover everything they need to know for optional SATs in the classroom, but there is still plenty parents can do to help their children to prepare for them at home.


To support your child with Maths and English in Years 3, 4 and 5, read this selection of articles:




Related posts:

What Are SATs in the UK?

The SATs Curriculum in the UK: An Overview



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The SATs Exam Format



Primary school children in England are required to sit their SATs exams in Years 2 and 6. In this article, we give an overview of the format of the SATs exams.


SATs are an indicator of the progress your child has made at school so far and are taken by children at Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) level.


The KS1 SATs Exam Format


KS1 SATs will be scrapped by 2023 but until then, Year 2 pupils will be required to sit the following SATs papers:


The KS1 Reading SAT


The KS1 reading test is made up of two papers:


  • Paper 1 is made-up of a range of texts, with questions relating to the texts throughout
  • Paper 2 is a reading booklet comprising of a selection of texts. Children are required to write their answers in a separate booklet


Although KS1 SATs are not strictly timed, each reading paper should take around 30 minutes and is worth 50 per cent of the total marks. Children should expect to be tested on a range of texts, including both fiction and non-fiction. The papers will include different question types, including:


  • Multiple choice
  • Short answer, e.g. ‘What does the chicken do?’
  • Find and copy, e.g. ‘Find and copy one word from the poem that shows that the dog was frightened’


The KS1 English Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) SAT


The spelling, punctuation and grammar test at KS1 is made up of two papers:


  • Paper 1 – a 20-word spelling test. This takes approximately 15 minutes and is worth 20 marks
  • Paper 2 – a grammar, punctuation and vocabulary test that is split into two sections, each taking approximately 10 minutes each. This test is worth 20 marks and will involve a mix of answers, including multiple choice and labelling.


The KS1 Maths SAT


Photo of a boy reading a book


The KS1 maths test is made up of two papers:


  • Paper 1 – arithmetic, this paper takes approximately 15 minutes and is worth 25 marks
  • Paper 2 – mathematical fluency, problem-solving and reasoning. This paper takes approximately 35 minutes and is worth 35 marks. Children will be faced with a range of question types, including multiple choice, true or false and matching.


To help your child prepare for their KS1 SATs, we recommend the following resources:



The KS2 SATs Exam Format


Year 6 children will be tested in English and maths at KS2. These SATs are externally marked and will be taken under official exam conditions.


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



The KS2 Reading SAT


This hour-long test is a single paper with questions based on three different texts. Your child will be required to answer a range of question types, including:


  • Ranking/ordering, e.g. ‘Number the events below to show the order in which they happen in the story’
  • Labelling, e.g. ‘Label the text to show the title of the story’
  • Find and copy, g. ‘Find and copy two words from the poem that show that the dog was frightened’
  • Short answer, e.g. ‘What does the chicken do?’


The KS2 English Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) SAT


The grammar, punctuation and spelling test consists of two parts:


  1. A 45-minute, short-answer grammar and punctuation paper
  2. A 15-minute aural spelling test of 20 words


The KS2 Maths SAT


Photo of a girl writing on a notepad


Year 6 children sit three papers in maths:


  • Paper 1 – arithmetic, 30 minutes long and made-up of fixed response questions. Children must correctly answer questions on calculations using long multiplication and division
  • Papers 2 and 3 – reasoning, 40 minutes per paper. These papers will include a number of different question types, including multiple choice and true or false.


To help your child prepare for their KS2 SATs, we recommend the following resources:



Whether in Year 2 or Year 6, it’s important to prepare your child for their SATs exams. Our SATs practice tests cover all the topics your child will need to know for the marked exams. They are updated regularly to ensure that they are current and accurate and detailed mark schemes are included, which will allow you to track your child’s progress easily.




Related posts:

The SATs Curriculum in the UK: An Overview

What Are The Different Section in a SATs Exam?




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The SATs Reading Comprehension Test: What You Need to Know



The KS2 reading exam aims to test a child’s comprehension skills. The questions range from simpler, literal questions (the answers for which are typically located within the text) to more complex questions that require inference or deduction skills.


Formal Exam Conditions


The test takes place under formal examination conditions. Students are typically seated apart and aren’t allowed to talk during the test (unless it’s to ask the teacher a question). No phones or other distracting devices are allowed in the exam and students generally aren’t given any help in answering the questions (there are certain allowances for children with additional needs).


The following information is given to every child taking the test:


‘This is the key stage 2 English reading test. You should have a reading booklet and a reading answer booklet in front of you.

You will need a blue / black pen or a dark pencil, and you may use a rubber for this test.

Write your name, school name and DfE (Department for Education) number on the front of your reading answer booklet.

Open your reading answer booklet to page 3. I will read the instructions to you.

You have 1 hour to complete this test, answering the questions in the answer booklet. Read one text and answer the questions about that text before moving on to read the next text.

There are 3 texts and 3 sets of questions.

In this booklet, there are different types of question for you to answer in different ways. The space for your answer shows you what type of answer is needed. Write your answer in the space provided. Do not write over any barcodes.

Some questions are followed by a short line or box. This shows that you need only write a word or a few words in your answer.

Some questions are followed by a few lines. This gives you space to write more words or a sentence or two.

Some questions are followed by more answer lines. This shows that a longer, more detailed answer is needed to explain your opinion. You can write in full sentences if you want to.

For some questions, you do not need to write anything at all and you should tick, draw lines to, or circle your answer.

Read the instructions carefully so that you know how to answer the question.

The number under each line at the side of the page tells you the maximum number of marks for each question.

As this is a reading test, you must use the information in the texts to answer the questions.

When a question includes a page reference, you should refer to the text on that page to help you with your answer.

You should work through the booklet until you are asked to stop.

You should try to answer all of the questions. If you can’t answer a question, move on and return to it later. Remember that you should keep referring back to your reading booklet.

Pay particular attention to any instructions within test questions.

To make sure your answers can be marked, don’t write in the grey areas, on the barcode or on the lines at the top and bottom or the edge of the page and don’t crumple your answer booklet.

If you want to change your answer, put a line through the response you don’t want the marker to read.

If you have to use a rubber, make sure you rub out your answer completely before writing a new one.

Remember to check your work carefully.

If you have any questions during the test, you should put your hand up and wait for someone to come over to you. Remember, I can’t help you answer any of the test questions or read any of the words to you.

You must not talk to each other.

Are there any questions you want to ask me now?

I will tell you when you have 5 minutes left. I will tell you when the test is over and to stop writing.

You may now start the test.’


The Exam Process


Photo of desks in an exam hall


Children taking the test will be given a reading booklet, which usually contains three different texts. Each one is written in a different genre and style. Students may also use monolingual English electronic spell checkers or highlighter pens, if this is within their normal classroom practice. It’s worth remembering though, that spelling is not being tested and using a spell-checker could waste valuable time.


Children may request extra lined paper, should they feel they need it. In the first instance, students are encouraged to use up all the space on their answer papers first. This is normally more than sufficient. All three texts within the reading booklet may have a central theme, such as ‘travel’ or ‘rescue’ and the least demanding text is normally the first one in the booklet.


SATs Reading Exam Technique


Children are given one hour to read the text and complete the questions in the accompanying reading answer booklet. This isn’t a huge amount of time, so it’s important that students are well-practised in methods for extracting information, such as skimming and scanning, or using headings and sub-headings to locate key information.


They should also be mindful of the weighting of the marks against each question. Simpler, more straightforward questions are usually awarded one mark, whereas more complex or longer answers are awarded two, or even three marks. Although children should endeavour to answer all questions on the paper, they should aim to pay particular attention to questions that are worth more marks.


Some questions do not require a written answer at all. There may be a box to tick, statements to place in a correct order or boxes to join. Accuracy is just as important here as it is with written answers. If an examiner is unable to read any of the child’s answers clearly, they will be marked wrong.


There is no set ‘protocol’ to completing the test – some children prefer to work on the first text and complete all the questions before moving on to the next, whereas others may read the three texts in their entirety before beginning to answer the questions. Although the instructions given at the beginning imply that children should work through one text at a time, they would not be penalised in any way for answering questions in any order they choose.


Reviewing Answers


Photo of a pen and paper


Once students have completed all the questions they can, they should always go back and check their answers carefully. They should consider whether they have answered each question with sufficient depth and clarity. They should aim to leave no question unanswered – even if they have no idea of what the question is asking for. A blank answer space has no chance of a mark, but an answer of some kind, however it is achieved, may just help to add one more mark to their total!


Staff Responsibilities


There will be at least one member of staff present during the test. In practice, there are usually two as there may be a need for a child to leave the room (to visit the toilet for example). Staff present are allowed to answer questions if a child raises their hand, but cannot in any way ‘lead’ them or influence their answers.


For example, if a child states that they don’t understand the question, an appropriate response from the teacher would be to encourage them to reread the question, perhaps underlining words that they think could be important. It would not be appropriate for the teacher to lead the child in any way, such as pointing to particular words or indicating a particular section of the text.


Teachers are also forbidden to give children any other hints, such as pointing to a question and encouraging the child to look at their answer again.


Children are normally reminded of the time they have remaining. This is done at the discretion of the teacher but will probably be at around the halfway point and again when there are ten minutes remaining.


If you’d like your child to gain extra practice in preparing for the SATs Reading Comprehension exam, our practice exam papers are ideal. We currently have four separate SATs exam papers that include reading comprehension questions. All of our resources come complete with answers and a detailed marking scheme, so you can easily track your child’s progress.


Our SATs resources





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SATs Reading Tips



For your child to perform well in their SATs, they must be a confident reader. Reading doesn’t always come naturally to some students, but the good news is there are many things you can do at home with your child to help them improve. In this article, we share some tips that could turn a young reader’s reluctance into enthusiasm.


Encourage Daily Reading


At SAT level, your child needs to demonstrate good reading comprehension, essentially talking about texts and their words. What better way to learn how to do this than to read as much as possible? You can help your child by making sure that they know that books are valued at home and that reading is seen as an enriching and worthwhile activity.


Research shows that reading on a daily basis will significantly improve a child’s reading comprehension, vocabulary and their ability to work out the meaning of unfamiliar words. Once your child gets into a routine of reading every day, it’ll soon become the norm, and they’ll start to look forward to the activity.


Use a Wide Variety of Reading Materials


Photo of children's books on a desk


Children should read a mix of genres, authors and a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts to broaden their reading experience as much as possible in anticipation of the SATs test. Try to introduce a new genre or author into your child’s reading time as often as you can in order to broaden their horizons.


Likewise, giving your child access to a wide variety of reading material like leaflets, poetry, jokes, magazines and comics can help improve their vocabulary and their understanding of language. And reading doesn’t need to be a matter of routine. Try to take advantage of any spur-of-the-moment opportunities, such as menus in cafes, food labels, even household letters.


Read as a Family


Be a role model for your child and make sure that they see you reading too, whether it’s for pleasure, or for work. The more often your child sees you reading, the more likely they’ll be to pick up a book without being asked.


Consider family reading time, where for 20-30 minutes every day, everyone reads together. Reading as a group can be a good way to encourage your child to read for longer periods. Typically, young children start to lose focus after 15 minutes, but if they see that you’re still reading, they’ll be more likely to read a little longer.


For more information on how to read with your child, take a look at this useful video from Hampton Primary School in Mauritius:



Share the Reading


As your child becomes more confident with reading, they’ll start to read more on their own and less to you. A good way to make this transition is to share the reading by taking it in turns to read a paragraph or page aloud. This technique is especially productive if your child is tackling a challenging book on their own.


During shared reading times, discuss unfamiliar words in an effort to expand your child’s vocabulary and ask questions about what they’ve just read. Asking questions like ‘why has this happened?’ Why did the character do that?’ enhances their understanding of the text and encourages them to think beyond the words on the page.


Look for Progress


For your child to perform well in their SATs reading exam, it’s important to be aware of where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Reading on its own often doesn’t provide enough insight into their current level. This is where practice reading papers can prove useful.


At Exam Papers Plus, we publish practice papers for the SATs exam. They cover every aspect of the exam, including the reading element. They’re a great way to familiarise your child with how the reading section is laid out and to give them an idea of the types of reading questions they may be asked. Our 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.


Our SATs resources:



Explore Words


If your child comes across any words that they don’t recognise, and can’t work out their meaning from the context, encourage them to build a ‘new words’ list. Once their reading time is complete, ensure they check the meanings of these words online or with a dictionary.


During shared reading, parents should pick an interesting word that really stands out in the text and ask their child to discuss why it’s a good word to use. You can also ask your child if they can suggest alternative words that could also be used within the context. Any discussion you can create around words and reading will be of huge benefit to your child when it comes to sitting the actual SATs exam.


Help with Reading Problems


Photo of a girl reading with a teacher


Don’t just rely on your child’s school to detect reading problems. Often, by the time reading issues are identified, they’ve already become more serious and require a lot more effort to put right. Spend time with your child focusing on identifying words that they don’t know and try to gauge whether or not they should be able to understand them given their age.


If your child does have a specific reading problem, it’s unlikely to improve without help. Practice SATs papers are one of the most effective ways of highlighting any specific issues, so ensure you use them early, allowing plenty of time to work on any problems areas that you identify.


Be Enthusiastic


Finally, one of the best ways to improve your child’s SATs reading skills is to provide plenty of encouragement and praise, especially if reading doesn’t come easily to them. Your reaction has a huge influence on your child’s motivation and commitment to becoming a good reader. Of course, you’ll need patience, as each child’s reading comprehension ability develops at different rates, but it’ll be worth it when your child’s hard work pays off and they get the SATs results they deserve.



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SATs Grammar Test Advice



All children at KS1 and KS2 level are tested on their grammar skills as part of the SATs spelling and grammar test. In this article, we look at how you can help your child improve their skills in time for the test.


At KS2, your child will sit the English grammar, punctuation and spelling (SPaG) tests. This exam includes questions that assess the following:


Grammar –identify and write sentences that are grammatically correct

Punctuation –form sentences that are correctly punctuated

Vocabulary – demonstrate knowledge of when a word is used correctly

Spelling –spell words that are spoken aloud by the examiner


For your child to perform well in the SPaG test, they need to have a solid understanding of how the English language works. For that to happen, they must know grammatical rules.


Learn the Terminology


Children sitting the SATs grammar test must have a good knowledge of grammatical terms such as adjectives, adverbs, verbs, nouns, passive voice, and sentence structure. They will also need to understand what connectives are and how they are used.


An effective way to ensure that your child understands these grammatical terms is to write a series of sentences that contain each of the terms. You can then ask your child to underline the word in the sentence that uses that particular part of speech. For example, in the following sentence, you may ask your child to underline the word or phrase that demonstrates passive voice:


The ball was thrown


For further practice of grammatical terminology, use SATs practice papers. They will familiarise your child with the types of grammatical questions that they might come up against. At Exam Papers Plus, all of our SATs practice papers are fully up-to-date to match the style of the new SATs exams.


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Practice Sentence Structure Exercises


Photo of a child writing with a pencil


Sentence structure can be one of the most difficult aspects of the grammar test to grasp. One of the most effective ways of improving your child’s awareness of the different types of sentences that exist is to do ‘missing word’ exercises. Write out a few sentences and in each one, miss out a word. Ask your child to identify where in the sentence the word is missing and have them write in the correct word.


In the SATs grammar exam, sentence structure questions typically look like these:


Sentence substitution: The boy enjoyed eating bananas (use the following words to change the sentence in one way: girl, hated, chopping)


Find the right word to fit the sentence: Jane ____ lemonade (choose from jumps, eats, throws, drinks)


The more practice your child gets in answering these types of questions, the easier time they will have on exam day.


Play Word Games


 Photo of a game of scrabble on a table


Word games are a hugely effective way of expanding children’s vocabulary and improving their ability to put sentences together correctly. Consider playing the game ‘Not Just’, which involves using additional adjectives after saying ‘I’m not just…’, for example:


“I’m not just tired, I’m exhausted”

“I’m not just happy, I’m joyful”


Once you’ve said a sentence, get your child to repeat it or even to add to it if possible. Similarly, describing games can be fun, including the alphabet game that focuses on objects (nouns) and what they are doing (verbs), such as:


Cool Cat

Elegant Elephant


You can use these games when your child becomes tired or bored of their usual revision techniques. Children can have a lot of fun playing them with the family, so the games won’t feel like work.


Sing Songs


You will know from experience that it only takes a few listens of a song before your child catches on and begins to hum or sing along. Singing together allows children to put together more and more words quickly. Rhyming helps children to use full sentences, improve their intonation and build their confidence.


The popular children’s song ‘If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands’ involves a difficult grammatical structure that would be difficult to teach through explanation. However, by listening to the song and following the words, children will begin to recognise the structure without getting anxious about it. Give it a try:



Don’t forget to use correct grammar when you speak to your children. By doing so, they will learn the patterns of the English language – and will be less likely to make mistakes. Children practice their grammar every day as part of their speech, but if your child struggles with particular terminology, or is unable to put sentences together correctly, they might need additional practice ahead of the SATs grammar test.




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How to Score Highly in the SATs Tests



The National Curriculum tests, known as SATs, are used in all state-funded schools to assess children’s performance in key areas and to provide data used to monitor progress and provision in schools. The tests are quite rigorous and are designed to allow each child to demonstrate the breadth and depth of their knowledge and understanding.


The following list is designed to help parents prepare their children for the SATs exams. As you’ll discover, there are several things you can do to help your child maximise their chances of gaining a high score in the tests. Some of these tips are very easy to apply, whereas others may require more ‘training’, but all are aimed at helping KS2 children do their very best they can in this year’s SATs.


Keep Your Child Healthy


It seems like such a small thing, but eating well, sleeping well and relaxing are all an important part of doing well in any test. Although your child may have anxieties about the SATs, try to ensure that they feel relaxed about the exam, particularly at bedtime. Try to avoid sugary drinks or caffeine so that they get lots of deep, restorative sleep in the lead up to the big day. On the morning of the test, try to ensure that they eat a good breakfast, as studies have proven that hungry children have dramatically reduced levels of concentration in comparison to those who have eaten well.


Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Them


Photo of a boy reading on a chair


Although the tests are important, they are only the first stage of your child’s academic career and may well have a limited effect on their future educational successes. That said, forming good study and revision habits at this age can greatly benefit your child in future examinations. A positive and proactive attitude towards learning and developing the skills required for SATs will stand them in good stead for the future.


With this in mind, we advise parents not to put too much pressure on their child. Allow them to consolidate and focus on any weaker areas that they need improvement in. If they seem worried or anxious about the tests, try to avoid setting hours and hours of revision at the expense of their leisure time – it’s important to keep a sense of perspective.


Build Stamina


A common area of concern for a lot of parents is their child’s ability to focus for long periods at a time. Most of the SATs tests last for less than an hour, but for a ten or eleven-year-old, it can be very difficult to concentrate at full capacity for this length of time.


Encourage your child to focus on screen-free tasks that require them to concentrate away from a computer screen. Gradually build up these ‘concentration periods’ over time. For example, if your child only reads for five minutes before they become bored or restless, try encouraging them to aim for ten minutes, then twenty and so on. Board games that require skill, writing for a purpose (such as letters to a relative or composing a shopping list), fine motor skills activities such as building Lego models, and colouring activities are all ideal to help your child build up their ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.


Read the Question Twice


Photo of glasses and a book


Many children lose marks when they misread a question. This happens in all of the subject areas and can easily knock 10-20% from a child’s score. Encourage your child to read the question twice in order to improve their chances of understanding what they are being asked to do. Although this is important for questions that are weighted with higher marks, it’s just as important for the seemingly easier one-mark questions too. If your child doesn’t understand what the question is asking them to do, they should leave it and come back to it at the end of the test.


Check the Answer Twice


Another common reason that students lose marks in the SATs exam is that they don’t check their answers. They often don’t see the mistakes they’ve made and simply skim over their answers without pro-actively looking for errors. Teach your child the following strategy to help them identify mistakes:


Encourage them to imagine that they are explaining their answer to their teacher. What would the teacher say? What questions would they ask? Would they be satisfied with what was written?


For maths questions, children at this age should understand how to use the inverse, or opposite operation, to check their answers. For example, if they were asked to divide 200 into 8 equal groups, and they arrive at an answer of 25, then they should be able to confirm this is correct by using the calculation 8 x 25.


Don’t Leave Questions Unanswered


Many children leave harder questions unanswered. Of course, an unanswered question has absolutely no chance of scoring a mark. If your child is completely confounded by a question, they should always aim to write some form of an answer, even if it is a complete guess – you never know, it could be right!


Our SATs Resources




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The SATs Curriculum in the UK: An Overview



Parents with children in primary school know they have SATs to contend with in the future. You’ll no doubt hear a lot about SATs, but despite all the information available, these exams can still cause concern and you probably have some outstanding questions. In this article, we give an overview of the subjects covered in the SATs curriculum and how you can prepare your children for success in the exams.


The Role of SATs


The UK SATs curriculum aims to assess the level your child is working at. It’s an opportunity to compare pupils nationally across England to ensure that schools are helping pupils to master the basics in English and Mathematics.


The SATs Curriculum: Key Stage 1 (Year 2)


Your child will sit their first SAT test in Year 2 of primary school. These tests are taken at any time during May and are not strictly timed. In fact, in many classrooms, pupils won’t even know they are taking them, as teachers often incorporate them into normal lessons.


Students are currently tested in the following subjects:


  • English reading – two papers: (1) short text and questions (2) longer text with separate questions
  • Mathematics – two papers: (1) arithmetic (2) mathematical reasoning
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling – two papers (1) spelling; (2) punctuation and grammar


It’s worth noting that SATs at KS1 could be scrapped under new government plans in the near future, so always check whether your child will be required to sit these tests with your child’s teacher.


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The SAT Curriculum: Key Stage 2 (Year 6)


Photo of a boy reading a book


Children sit their Key Stage 2 (KS2) SATs in Year 6. These tests are 45 minutes long, are taken on set dates, under exam conditions and are externally marked.

Pupils are currently tested in English and Mathematics, with some schools opting to include science too. Papers are split as follows:


  • English reading: one paper
  • English: grammar, punctuation and spelling two papers: (1) spelling (2) punctuation and grammar (including vocabulary)
  • Mathematics: two papers: (1) arithmetic (2) mathematical reasoning
  • Mathematics: one paper on mathematical reasoning


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Parents should receive SATs test results by the end of the summer year of Year 6. Your child will also receive an assessment from other parts of the curriculum, including English Writing and Science, but these will be administered by your child’s teacher.


How Parents Can Help Their Child Prepare


 Photo of a boy studying at home


The SATs curriculum requires children to have a good knowledge of a range of subjects, so in order for your child to feel confident heading into their SATs exams, they must feel prepared.


As a parent, there are a number of things you can do to help your child with their SATs preparation, including:


  • Setting a revision plan to cover all the subjects required within the SATs curriculum.
  • Build their concentration gradually. In order for your child to focus for the entirety of the 45-minute exams, they should start by revising little and often.
  • Introduce practice SATs papers into their study early on. These papers are proven to be an effective way of familiarising your child with the types of questions they might come across, leaving them less anxious about the marked exam.


Our practice tests cover all the topics your child will be tested on in the SATs curriculum. All of our papers match the style of the new SATs examinations to ensure they are current and accurate.


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