KS2 English SATs: What You Need to Know



The KS2 English SATs are taken in May by Year 6 students in mainstream schools. There are three papers altogether:


1. Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (Paper 1).


Children are given 45 minutes to complete the first paper, which tests their abilities in grammar and punctuation. There are a variety of question types, ranging from box ticking to adding punctuation or underlining words.


2. Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (Paper 2).


This test usually takes around 20 minutes to complete (at the discretion of the administering teacher). As the teacher reads a sentence aloud, the student fills in the missing word on their answer sheet, aiming to spell it correctly.


3. Reading.


Students are given a reading booklet that contains three texts all from a different genre (for example, a non-fiction piece such as a report or fact sheet, a story, or some poetry). This paper lasts for an hour and children are given a set of questions relating to the texts (usually around ten or twelve for each of the three texts). Although students can answer the questions in any order they choose, they are usually advised to work through one text at a time, starting at the beginning.


In previous years, children were given a writing test as well. However, today, each child’s writing ability is now assessed across all genres of writing and throughout the year, giving a much more accurate reflection of their capabilities.


The following ideas are designed to be practical, supportive activities to support your child as they approach their KS2 English SATs.


Read Frequently, And for Meaning


Not every child enjoys reading and many find it a very difficult skill to master. However, studies have shown that the more frequently a child reads, the greater the impact on their reading ability. In particular, we should be aiming for a deeper understanding of the text. For example, look at the following simple sentence:


‘Mrs Giles delivered Sophie to school, giving her a small kiss as she left.’


Some literal questions we could ask about the text could be:


  • Who delivered Sophie to school?
  • What did she do as she left?


These questions can be drawn directly from the text. Harder questions that rely on inferring or deducing the meaning of the text could include:


  • What time of day might it be?
  • What relation is Mrs Giles to Sophie?
  • How old is Sophie likely to be?


These subtler questions are important preparation for the higher mark questions in the SATs reading paper.


Read a Wide Range of Genres



Stories are fine, particularly if a child has a particular author or genre they love. However, there is a certainty that the reading paper will contain a non-fiction text as well as fiction, so it’s useful to prepare children for this eventuality.


There are lots of non-fiction publications aimed at children. First News is a great children’s newspaper that deals with current affairs in a sensitive and child-friendly manner. Magazines or periodicals devoted to a hobby or passion could be another great place to start, or even books on a topic of interest from the local library.


Focus on Improving Spelling


There’s little to be gained from forcing a child to plough through spelling lists. Instead, look at word patterns, play spelling games (especially fun ones online) and use reading time to recognise new words. Ask questions about root words, prefixes and suffixes. Make up mnemonics or other devices to remember harder spellings. Use flash cards or word building games – make it as fun as possible.


Work on Punctuation


This is always a tricky area, with seemingly endless rules and regulations for correct punctuation, which plenty of adults seem to struggle with too! As with spelling, there are plenty of fun online games to try. You could also revise in an ad hoc way. For example, on a trip into town, how many times can you spot an incorrect use of punctuation on a sign or label? At the greengrocer’s, are there any potatoe’s or cabbage’s for sale? (Misplaced apostrophes are one of the most common punctuation errors).


Use English SATs Practice Papers




Using English SATs practice papers can help your child improve their exam technique ahead of the KS2 English SATs. Having the required knowledge and understanding is one thing, but being able to apply it under test conditions is another. Not only do practice papers help children get used to the types of questions they may be asked in the SATs exam, they also help with time management.


As your child’s KS2 English SAT approaches, encourage them to complete a full English SAT practice paper under timed conditions. The more they practice against the clock, the better they’ll become at judging how long to spend on each type of question.


At Exam Papers Plus, we publish SATs practice exam papers that can help improve your child’s time management and boost their confidence. All of our papers also include a detailed mark scheme that you can use to monitor your child’s progress.


Our SATs resources include:



Overall, it’s important to remember that your child’s school may also be providing extra revision for the exam. As well as daily English lessons, there may be reading groups, homework tasks, booster classes and projects designed to strengthen and consolidate your child’s skills in this core subject.


Added pressure at home is not only counter-productive; it could negatively influence your child’s view of English in the long term. Including fun activities that engage rather than alienate is the best way to avoid this happening to your child.



Related posts:

How to Use KS2 English SATs Practice Exam Papers

Key Stage 2 SATs: A Parent’s Guide


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