Primary KS1 and KS2 SATs: Updated Guidance for Parents 2023?

Exams are tough, not just for the children but also for the parents. SATs, in particular, can cause both students and parents to lose their sleep. Primary SATs in the UK are conducted twice in Year 2 of Key Stage 1 and then in Year 6 of Key Stage 2. These Standard Assessment Tests are mainly undertaken at the end of both Years in May to test a child’s Maths and English (grammar, reading, spelling, vocabulary, punctuation, etc.) skills. 

According to the recent news, the government of the UK has now decided to make KS1 SATs non-statutory. This means that from 2023, it would be up to the schools around the UK to choose whether they want to have SATs or not. However, all students of Year 2 and Year 6 will have to sit through SATs in the coming year.  

This article shall serve as the ultimate guide for parents to help their children prepare and perform well in the upcoming SATs of May 2022. 

Comparison between KS1 and KS2 SATs:

                    Key Stage 1                         Key Stage 2
C At the end of Year 2 At the end of Year 6
  At the age of 7 At the age of 11
  Less formal More formal
  Graded internally by the school teachers Graded externally
  No strict time restrictions 45 minutes for each paper
  Tests for Maths and reading skills.
Children can also take an optional English test that includes grammar, spelling, and punctuation
A formal test for Maths and English.
The English section involves spelling, punctuation, grammar, and reading.
  Marked on a scale of 80-120 Marked on a scale of 80-120
  Parents do not get the score unless they ask for it. Results are formally announced in the month of July. 

While it is common to become overwhelmed with all the anxiety surrounding SATs, it is crucial to keep in mind that SATs only measure the level of your child’s academic proficiency. Therefore, it is less about passing or failing and more about a standard measure to see if they are up to the national educational standards.

What should I expect in my child’s KS1 and KS2 SATs?

For each year’s SATs, to prepare better, it is essential to know the pattern and content of the exam beforehand.

Key Stage 1 SATs

In Year 2 SATs, the children are mainly tested for their Maths and reading skills. However, the schools can include a SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar) exam. 

The reading test 

The reading test for Year 2 includes two separate papers: 

  1. The first paper consists of a selection of 400 to 700 words, with interspersed questions. Students are also given separate booklets to write their answers in.
  2. The second paper involves a reading booklet with 800 to 1100 words. 
  3. Each paper usually takes around 30 minutes. However, students are not pressured to finish in any specified period as these assessments do not test a child’s speed. 
  4. Children should expect a range of text, including fiction and nonfiction. The test may also include sections of poetry. 
  5. The reading content usually gets more difficult towards the end of the test.

The Maths test

Like the reading test, the Year 2 SATs Maths test also consists of two papers. 

  1. The first paper consists of an arithmetic portion of 25 marks.
  2. And the second paper has reasoning and problem-solving questions of 35 marks. This paper is presented in the form of a Multiple Choice Question (MCQs), and most children should be able to finish it in 35 minutes. 

SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar)

The inclusion of this exam is up to the school administration. Some schools choose to have this test in Year 2, while others do not. If your child is studying in a school that includes a SPAG, they will have to sit this test as well. For better preparation, you must start SATs online tuition in London and other cities in the UK.

There are also two separate papers for SPAG.

  1. The first paper has a 20-word spelling test of 20 marks, which should take roughly 15 minutes to complete.
  2. The second paper contains vocabulary, punctuation and grammar questions of 20 marks. This section is in the form of MCQs and short questions, which should take around 20 minutes to complete. 

Your child’s class teacher will mark all of these tests at KS1. Although there are marks for each activity, parents do not get formal or official report cards for Year 2 SATs. You will only be informed whether or not your child meets the national standard set by the Department of Education for their age and year. 

Key Stage 2 SATs

The reading test

  1. In Year 6 SATs, the reading test is a single paper with questions based on three text passages.
  2. Students usually have an hour to complete the test.
  3. The three sections are; ranking and ordering, finding and copying and short constructed responses.
  4. The reading content is closely related to the student’s school curriculum. 


The spelling, punctuation, and grammar test is not optional in Year 6 SATs. Year 6 students all over the UK must sit the test. 

  1. It consists of two parts. 
  2. One is grammar, and the other is punctuation. This comes in two sections, and the paper requires short answers that should complete in 45 minutes. 
  3. There is also a spelling test consisting of 20 words that roughly lasts for 15 minutes.


Children take three Maths papers in KS2 SATs. 

  1. The first paper is arithmetic, just like in Year 2.
  2. The second and third include reasoning questions.
  3. The first paper has fixed response questions, while the second and third have Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs).

KS2 SATs are sent out to be marked externally. Also, students get a formal report card in July. 

How should I prepare my child for KS1 and KS2 SATs?

Year 2 and Year 6 SATs preparation 

For KS1 and KS2 SATs, you should start paying extra attention to your child’s learning when they enter Year 1 and Year 5, respectively. You cannot possibly prepare your child for SATs overnight. The exam mainly tests your child’s competency. Even if your child scores low on the scale, they will not fail any grade. 

So, it is the final assessment to see how well your child has learned over the past years. Regardless of passing or failing, all parents want to see their children perform well on all their tests. 

So, to ensure that your child performs well on their Year 2 and Year 6 SATs, follow the below-given tips:

  • Pay attention to your child’s education throughout the years and not just before their SATs. 
  • Help them develop a habit of reading at least one page a day. Reading is a big part of both years’ exams. So, ensure that your child knows how to read well.
  • Also, make them write a one-page essay every day. This will improve their spelling, grammar and punctuation skills.
  • Spend extra time practising Maths every day. 
  • Prepare your child for every test, quiz, assessment and assignment throughout the year. Children who perform well on their regular class tests and examinations are significantly more likely to perform well on their SATs. 
  • Use practice papers while prepping your child for SATs. Spend time practising those questions that have appeared frequently in the past years.
  • And lastly, if you are still worried about your child’s SATs, consider hiring an online tutor.
  • Several online tutoring companies in the UK have years of experience preparing children for SATs. You can easily get a tutor for one-to-one SATs tuition for your child. 

In the end, the best advice for parents is to remain calm, as panicking over SATs can even make your child nervous. Make sure that you are there to help your child through the entire process without making a massive deal out of it. If you stay calm and prepare your child strategically, your child is sure to ace their exams like a pro. 

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