What Are the Different Sections in a SATs Exam?



To help your child prepare for their SATs exam, we’ve put together this post which looks at the individual sections of the test. We’ve also outlined the skills your child will need to tackle them.


Sections in Key Stage 1 (KS1) SATs


Children sit their KS1 SATs at the end of Year 2 in primary school. These SATs are split into the following sections:




The reading test is made up of two papers:


  • Paper 1 – a selection of texts, with questions interspersed
  • Paper 2 – a reading booklet made up of a selection of texts. Children are required to write their answers on a separate sheet.


English Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG)


The SPaG test is made up of two papers:


  • Paper 1 – a 20-word spelling test
  • Paper 2 – a grammar, punctuation and vocabulary test




The KS1 maths test is made up of two papers:


  • Paper 1 – arithmetic
  • Paper 2 – mathematical problem-solving and reasoning


To help your child prepare for their KS1 SATs, check out the following resources:


Key Stage 1 SATs Practice Test 1


Key Stage 1 SATs Practice Test 2


Sections in Key Stage 2 (KS2) SATs


Children sit their KS2 SATs at the end of Year 6 in primary school. These exams are more formal in nature and are usually externally marked. KS2 SATs are split into the following sections:




The KS2 reading test is a single paper with questions based on three passages of text. The paper will include a range of questions and children will be asked to interpret information within the text and comment on writers’ use of language throughout the passages.


English Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG)


The SPaG test is split into two parts: a grammar and punctuation paper and an aural spelling test. In the former, children will be required to identify particular word types such as adjectives and nouns and rewrite sentences or add missing apostrophes to constructed sentences.




At KS2, children sit three maths papers:


  • Paper 1 – arithmetic, this is made-up of fixed response questions, such as long division and multiplication
  • Papers 2 and 3 – reasoning, these papers involve a mix of questions including multiple choice and true or false


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


Key Stage 2 SATs Practice Test 1


Key Stage 2 SATs Practice Test 2


SATs Skills Your Child Will Need


SATs preparation tips


Subject-wise, your child’s school will be doing all they can to prepare them for the SATs, but you may still want to help them at home. In fact, there are certain skills that you can focus on outside of school that will really make a big difference.


Reading and Interpreting Questions


Once this skill is learnt, it can be used in all tests that your child will sit in the future. Children can sometimes misread what they are being asked to do and lose marks, so this is a skill well-worth working on at home. Use practice SATs papers to help your child perfect this skill ahead of the tests.


Understanding Test Format and Structure


As a parent, you should spend time familiarising your child with the SATs exam format, structure and content. Our practice papers show children what the test will look like, how it is laid out and where they should provide answers. The more time your child spends using practice papers, the more likely they are to be comfortable with the marked assessment.




SATs are a challenge, particularly if your child tends to struggle with concentration. At KS2 level, your child will be required to concentrate for longer periods of time than might come naturally to them, so they will need to work to develop their capacity.


Help your child to gradually build up their concentration. Revision sessions tend to be more effective in shorter bursts of 20 minutes on a regular basis. It may be a while before children are able to concentrate for the full 20 minutes, so offer encouragement to maintain their focus. As the SATs tests draw nearer, begin to increase their concentration time, providing incentives if necessary.


Time Management


For your child to perform at their best in the SATs exam, they must have good time management. Practice this skill by challenging your child to see how many times tables or simple maths calculations they can complete in a given time period. You can build this up steadily and gradually give them more time.


Encourage your child to sit practice exam papers under timed conditions. This will enable you to identify any areas that might require more work. The SATs exam requires your child to be a good reader, so work on their reading skills by selecting a few pages from a book and reading it for a given time-period. You should also encourage any other form of reading.


Preparing your child for the different SATs sections is crucial. Your child needs to feel good about themselves and believe that they have the necessary skills to do their best in the exam. Remember to always take an interest in their SATs revision and provide them with good quality practice papers to hone their skills.


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