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?


optional SATs preparation


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?


optional SATs results


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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