What is involved in the Year 6 SATs?

by Anna Michaelidou

The Key stage 2 SAT's are given to help both teachers and parents understand how well a child is doing compared to their peers and better understand their strengths and weaknesses. The SAT's are compulsory for all seven year old children (Key Stage 1) and all eleven year old children (Key Stage 2). The results of the Year 6 SAT's are used to measure how a child has improved from Key Stage 1 and even what kind of results they may expect from their GCSE's.


What are the Key Stage 2 SAT's?

Children are assessed and tested on what they have been learning at school and the tests are based on material from the curriculum. The 2016 SAT's have been reviewed and children that started Year 6 in September 2015 will be the first to take these new style tests. The changes include tests that are now based on actual topics learnt and more content based questions rather that just exploring a child's general ability. Also there will now be a new grammar, punctuation and spelling test which was not included in the past. The Year 6 SAT's have become more challenging with more focus on English and writing skills than before.

When will the Year 6 SAT's take place?

Children at the end of Year 6 will take the official SAT's in the week commencing 9th May 2016. The tests will take place as follows:

Monday 9th May 2016 - English reading test: reading booklet and associated answer booklet.

Tuesday 10th May 2016 - English grammar, punctuation and spelling test.

Paper 1: short answer questions.

Paper 2: spelling

Wednesday 11th May 2016 - Mathematics

Paper 1: arithmetic test

Paper 2: reasoning

Thursday 12th May 2016 - Mathematics

Paper 3: reasoning

The weeks commencing 6th and 13th of June will be the science sampling test period although not all children will sit the science tests as only a number of schools are required to take part. For the children that will take these tests they will include:

  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry

All three science papers will take 25 minutes each.

How are the Year 6 SAT's structured?

The new Year 6 SAT's will now reflect the new curriculum and are set to be more difficult than past SAT papers. Key stage 2 children will sit tests in:

  • Reading
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • Maths
  • And the science papers (which as we mentioned before will not be compulsory for all children).

Let's take a quick look at how these will be broken down:

Key stage 2 - Reading

The Year 6 reading test will be questions based on three passages of text. The children will have one hour to complete the test (including reading time). The test will include a selection of different questions types including things such as finding and copying a word that describes something in the story and numbering events that have happened in the passage to show the order in which they have occurred.

Key stage 2 - Spelling, punctuation and grammar

This test is made up of two parts:

  • Grammar and punctuation paper - this will include questions such as identifying adjectives within a sentence and correct sentences that have missing punctuation. The children will be given 45 minutes to complete this test.
  • Spelling Test - This is an aural test consisting of 20 words that will last for approximately 15 minutes.

Key stage 2 - Maths

The Year 6 Maths test will consist of three papers:

  • Paper 1 - Arithmetic: where the child will need to answer questions that include multiplication and long division. Children will be given 30 minutes to complete this test.
  • Papers 2 & 3 - Reasoning: these papers will include several different question types including multiple choice, completing charts, drawing shapes, giving the answer to a calculation, showing their approach to solving certain questions and true or false questions. Paper 2 and Paper 3 will be 40 minutes each paper.

Key stage 2 - Science

For those children that are selected to sit the science papers they will include:

Biology - 25 minutes

Physics - 25 minutes

Chemistry - 25 minutes

What kind of questions can a Year 6 child expect in the SAT's?

The SAT's include the written tests as explained above and also include a teacher's assessment of subjects including writing, speaking, listening and science. The teacher assesses a child's progress throughout the year and their assessment is included in the results of the SAT's.

Let's take a look at some example questions your child can expect for each of the different papers in the Year 6 SAT's.

Key stage 2 - Reading

The Year 6 SAT's reading test will comprise of a reading booklet and questions to follow. Examples of these tests can be found at gov.uk where you will find samples of the reading booklets and sample questions that have to do with the text. You will also be able to read the papers on the mark schemes and what children are expected to achieve.

Key stage 2 - Spelling, punctuation and grammar

Paper 1 - grammar and punctuation

The grammar and punctuation test will consist of two different types of answers: multiple choice and short answers. The children will be given 45 minutes to complete the test. Some example questions of what to expect are:

1. Tick the sentence that must end with a question mark. Tick one.

a) What I wanted had already sold out

b) What time did the film start

c) I didn't know what to say

d) Ask Ryan what he thinks about it

2. Which pair of verbs correctly completes the sentence below?

Pluto ____ now called a dwarf planet, but once it ____ classified as a planet.

Tick one.

a) was / is

b) was / was

c) is / is

d) is / was

2. Which sentence has been punctuated correctly? Tick one.

a) Immediately after, dinner we did the washing up.

b) Immediately after dinner we did, the washing up.

c) Immediately after dinner, we did the washing up.

d) Immediately, after dinner we did the washing up.

3. Which sentence below is written in the past tense? Tick one.

a) That is the oldest house in our village.

b) The original part of the house dates from 1760.

c) The roof was replaced in 1970.

d) The owners plan to open the house to the public.

4. Circle one verb in each underlined pair to complete the sentences using Standard English.

a) We was/were planning to hold a cake sale at school.

b) I was/were chose to design the posters.

5. Write the contracted form of the underlined words.

That decision does not seem fair.

6. Circle all the pronouns in the following sentence:

They bought new jumpers for themselves and a warm scarf for Dad.

7. Circle the two words in the sentence below that are synonyms of each other.

He was lucky to win first prize - he knew it was fortunate that his closest rival had decided not to take part.

8. Rewrite the sentence below, adding a subordinate clause. Remember to punctuate your answer correctly.

The children played on the swings.

9. Insert a pair of brackets in the correct place in the sentence below.

Lisa who had been playing the piano since she was nine had achieved Grade 7.

10. Complete the table below by adding a suffix to each noun to make an adjective.

Noun Adjective

Source: Gov.uk

Paper 2 - spelling

The spelling test can take up to 30 minutes with 15 minutes of the actual test plus an extra 15 minutes additional time. The children will be given instructions to follow at the beginning of the test. The teacher will read twenty sentences. Each sentence has a word missing. They will be asked to listen carefully to the sentences and then the missing word and to write the correct spelling of the missing word in their answer booklet. Examples of these can be found at gov.uk.

Key stage 2 - Maths

Here are some examples of what kind of questions will be included in the Maths papers.

Paper 1 - Arithmetic

  1. 979 + 100 =
  2. 123×2 =
  3. 6.1 + 0.3 =
  4. 1,034 + 586 =
  5. 48 ÷ 6 =
  6. 472 - 9 =
  7. 5×4×7=
  8. 1,440×12 =
  9. 20% of 1,500 =
  10. 20 - 4×2 =

Paper 2 - Reasoning

1. A pack of paper has 150 sheets. 4 children each take 7 sheets.

How many sheets of paper are left in the packet?

(please note: children are required to show their method of working)

2. What is 444 minutes in hours and minutes?

3. Here is a number written in Roman numerals.


Write this number in figures.

4. What number is halfway between 1.4 and 2.1?

5. Seven children measured their heights:

Louise 136cm

Stuart 144cm

Regan 142cm

Charlie 143cm

Margaret 152cm

Sharon 150cm

Derek 148cm

What is the mean height of the children?

(please note: children are required to show their method of working)

Paper 3 - Reasoning

1. Look at this number:


Write the digit that is in the hundreds place ______

Write the digit that is in the hundredths place ______

2. Write the number 53,418 in words.

3. A bag of 5 lemons costs £1. A bag of 4 oranges costs £1.80.

How much more does one orange cost than one lemon?

4. Two decimal numbers add together to equal 1. One of the numbers is 0.007.

What is the other number?

5. The area of a rugby pitch is 6,108 square metres.A football pitch measures 112 metres long and 82 metres wide.

How much larger is the area of the football pitch than the area of the rugby pitch?

Source: Gov.uk

Key stage 2 - Science

Here are a couple of example questions you could expect to see in the Year 6 science SAT's:

1. James is finding out about the digestive system. Tick one of the following to show why we need a digestive system:

a) To control how the body moves.

b) To break down food for the body to absorb.

c) To give support to the body.

d) To transport blood around the body.

2. Fossils can give a lot of information about animals that lived in the past. Write true or false for each of the following statements about the pliosaur fossil:

The pliosaur fossil could give us information about:

a) how long ago the animal lived.

b) what the animal ate.

c) what the animal smelt like.

d) what colour the animal's eyes were.

e) how large the animal was.

Source: SATs Papers

What type of results can you expect?

Children will be given a score based on the actual marks they get in the tests and will also receive scaled scores to show whether they have reached the national average. The minimum expected level for the end of Year 6 is a level 4 with a level 3 being below expectations and a level 5 above expectations. The SAT's are far more formal than those taken for key stage 1 and the papers are sent away to be marked. Results will be available for parents to collect before your child leaves primary school in July.

To conclude

The Year 6 SAT's are now tougher than ever before so helping your child prepare for these tests will not only build their confidence but ensure that they know what to expect. There are plenty of free resources on the internet and the help of a home tutor can also be an excellent way to help your child prepare.