SATs Results Explained – What Does It All Mean?



All SATs papers taken by children in Year 6 are sent to be marked externally by qualified assessors, most of whom have previously worked as teachers.


Children are tested in their reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation and in mathematics. Writing is teacher-assessed.


Each year, 10,000 schools in the UK also receive a science test so that the subject can be monitored nationally. Schools that don’t use the national science test rely on their own assessment data instead.


When Are the Results Given?


The results of the externally marked tests are sent to schools at the end of July. There is a facility to challenge scores and potentially have papers remarked, providing there is a case for doing so.


The results of individual tests are normally given to parents as part of the written report at the end of a school year.


Schools receive exam results for individual pupils and as a school as a whole, by the end of July. National and local authority results, which form the league tables, are published in December.


What Do KS2 SATs Scores Mean?


KS2 SATs Scores explained


Scores are given in a scaled format, which enables peer comparison. The scores determine whether or not your child has achieved the national standard for each subject as part of that year’s cohort. In other words, the parameters for achieving a ‘pass’ will change slightly each year, based on the overall national results.


However much the raw scores may change, the range of scaled scores will always remain the same: 80 being the lowest and 120 being the highest.


A scaled score of 100 or more means that your child has met the expected standard in that particular test, whereas a scaled score of 99 or less means they haven’t reached the nationally expected standard.


Each paper your child takes will be awarded a ‘raw’ score. These scores, collated nationally, determine the national standard. A child who meets that standard would be awarded a confirmation of ‘AS’, with those who don’t meet the standard receiving ‘NS’. Other codes used in the results include:


  • A: The child was absent from one or more of the test papers
  • B: The child is working below the level assessed by KS2 SATs
  • M: The child missed the test
  • T: The child is working at the level of the tests but is unable to access them (because all, or part of the test is not suitable for a pupil with particular needs)


In certain, strict circumstances, children may be discounted from the results data. For example, the National Subject Association for EDL (NALDIC) states:


Schools can apply for pupils who have recently arrived from overseas to be discounted from performance tables calculations. To be discounted, a pupil must meet all 3 of the following criteria: they were admitted to an English school for the first time during the 2015 to 2016 or 2016 to 2017 school year; they arrived from overseas before their admission; English is not an official language of the country from which they came.”


The marks required for 2017 on each of the Key Stage 2 SATs tests were:


  • Maths: 57 out of 110 (down from 60 in 2016)
  • Reading: 26 out of 50 (up from 21 in 2016)
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling: 36 out of 70 (down from 43 in 2016)


This year, 61% of pupils met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths (compared to 53% in 2016); 71% of pupils achieved the expected standard in reading; 76% of pupils achieved the expected standard in writing (which is teacher-assessed); 75% of pupils achieved the expected standard in mathematics and 77% of pupils achieved the expected standard in spelling, punctuation and grammar (also known as SPaG).


Other Assessments


To supplement the SATs test results, most schools also provide teacher assessment results for each child. These results will cover the same subjects as the SATs papers (reading, spelling, grammar, punctuation and mathematics) but will also include writing, science and other, non-core subjects too. All schools should give an indication of the level at which each child is working at, and may also include indicators to other important learning behaviours, such as independence, organisation and attitude to learning.


Some abbreviations that may be used in reporting these results include the following:


  • GDS: Working at greater depth within the expected standard (for writing assessment only)
  • EXS: Working at the expected standard
  • WTS: Working towards the expected standard (for writing assessment only)
  • HNM: Has not met the expected standard (reading and maths assessment only)
  • PKG: Pre-key stage, growing development of the expected standard (the child is working at a lower level than expected)
  • PKF: Pre-key stage, foundations for the expected standard (the child is working at a significantly lower level than expected)
  • BLW: The child is working below the pre-key stage standards
  • D: Awarded if the child is ‘disapplied’ (the child has not been tested at KS2 level)




It’s important to remember that each child works at a different level and in a different way. Some children learn quickly but perform poorly in tests; others may struggle in the classroom but can reach the expected standard anyway. If a child has not met the expected standard by the end of Key Stage 2, it’s not the end of the world; it just means they haven’t reached their full potential yet.


At Exam Papers Plus, we have several SATs practice exam papers that can help your child prepare for their tests. We 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:

What Are the Different Sections in a SATs Exam?

How to Score Highly in the SATS Test


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