For specialist resources for CAT, ISEB Pretest, CEM Select and UKiset exams, visit our other site: Pretest Plus

SATs Reasoning Paper 2: Essential Skills for Success

Bookmark this page? Pop your email into the box below to receive a link to this article so you can easily refer back to it later.



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


Bookmark this page? Pop your email into the box below to receive a link to this article so you can easily refer back to it later.

By Exam Papers Plus

From the Blog


If there is a topic you would like to have covered, or if you have some information that you would like to share, please get in touch and we can make it happen!

© 2024 All rights Reserved.| Privacy Terms Payments & Security

Exam Papers Plus, 690 Great West Road, Osterley Village, Isleworth, England, TW7 4PU Company Number: 09089974

Contact us by phone 0333 456 9109 Contact us by email: