Changes to KS2 SATs in 2014: what parents need to know

Child writing
KS2 SATs are changing in 2014. We explain what is happening this year and what the new plans are for the Y6 assessments, including the new KS2 Grammar, punctuation and spelling test, following Lord Bew's review.

Following a review of KS2 SATs published in June 2011 a number of changes are being made to the Year 6 test each year, with the aim of making it fairer for all children. Lord Bew, the author of the report, recommended a greater focus on the progress children make throughout the school year, as opposed to a test-day snapshot of what they know. He also highlighted the value of teacher assessment (after all, who knows your child better than their class teacher?). 

KS2 SATs papers explained

All Year 6 children are required to take externally-set assessments in English and maths. The standard papers cover levels 3-5, with level 4 being the expected national average at the end of primary school. Children sit the following tests:

Year 6 English SATs

  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling – Paper 1 comprises 40 to 50 short-answer questions covering grammar, punctuation and vocabulary; Paper 2 is a spelling test with 20 questions.
  • English reading – one paper based on reading comprehension of three to four texts, with a total of 35 to 40 questions.

The English grammar, punctuation and spelling test covers sentence grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, handwriting and spelling and was introduced in 2013. For an introduction to the SPAG test, and details of how to help your child prepare, read our parents' guide, What is the Y6 Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation test?

Year 6 maths SATs

  • Mathematics – Papers 1 and 2, each lasting 45 minutes, and Paper 3, a 20-minute mental maths test.

In addition, high-achieving children may be entered for Level 6 SATs papers in the same subjects. The Department for Education (DfE) advises that only children who are expected to achieve a level 6 should take these tests; if they don’t pass, they are awarded the grade from their level 3-5 papers instead.

When are the 2014 KS2 SATs tests?

KS2 SATs will be held in the week beginning 12 May 2014. The tests will follow this timetable:

Monday 12 May Levels 3-5 English reading

Level 6 English reading

Tuesday 13 May Levels 3-5 English grammar, punctuation and spelling

Level 6 English grammar, punctuation and spelling

Wednesday 14 May Levels 3-5 mental mathematics

Levels 3-5 mathematics Paper 1

Thursday 15 May Levels 3-5 mathematics Paper 2

Level 6 mathematics Paper 1

Level 6 mathematics Paper 2

Pupils who are ill on the day of a KS2 SATs test will be able to sit it within a week (until 2012 they were asked to sit the test within two days).

Science sampling: what’s it all about?

The biggest change for KS2 SATs for 2014 is that although there are no formal science SATs for all, ‘science sampling’ is being reintroduced. Under this system, 9,500 children – five children from 1,500 schools – will be randomly selected to take a science test. Schools that are selected will be notified by mid-May, and are legally obliged to participate if chosen.

The science sampling test will comprise three papers, each of no more than 25 minutes, to be taken within a two-week period from Monday 2 June 2014. Results will only be published at a national level; neither schools nor parents will be given their children’s individual results, and they won’t be used in league tables. Science sampling will take place every two years.

Other changes to SATs in 2014

  • A new format and timing (one hour) for the level 3-5 English reading test
  • A ban on calculators in the level 3-5 maths tests
  • The percentage of children achieving level 6 will be shown in school league tables for the first time
  • Teachers will be able to request extra time for children with special educational needs based on their own observations, rather than having to provide evidence from a specialist professional

Teacher assessment in the KS2 SATs

  • Other subjects, including English speaking and listening, are assessed by teachers rather than by children taking a formal written test. This assessment data is then submitted to the DfE, and is subject to moderation.
  • Replacing the writing test given previously, your child’s teacher will assess their writing composition, so your child’s result for English writing will be a judgement of their work across year 6. Your child's grammar, punctuation and spelling skills will be assessed as part of their writing, but their creativity and writing style will also be evaluated.
  • Children’s progress, as well as their achievement, will be measured and reported on in school performance tables.
  • Teacher assessments will be passed on to secondary schools so they can be used in planning for year 7 teaching.
  • The following subjects will continue to be teacher assessed: speaking and listening.
  • Maths and reading tests will continue to be marked externally.

Free KS2 SATs past papers

Want to kick off your SATs revision schedule by downloading and working through some past papers? All the official KS2 SATs past papers from 2003 to 2013 are available to download for free from TheSchoolRun. It might also be useful to follow teachers' tips about how to get the most out of completing past papers at home; we have advice for KS2 English SATs past papers and suggestions for KS2 maths SATs past papers.


Thankyou ,The information has been very helpful.

please can you confirm dates of all exams./ subjects in May 2013 as Science has not been mentioned

Science won't be part of the 2013 KS2 SATs as schools are transitioning to a new way of testing science (as mentioned in the article, this will start in 2014).

May we suggest that as well as the above information about SATs, there's some information that Year Sixes need to hear... (and, in some cases, their teachers too). The link is here>> The above link isn't spam, it's a blog post we wrote entitled 'A Message For Year Sixes'. It's an attempt to set the balance straight somewhat in classrooms where pupils are feeling the pressure through the whole of what should be their finest hour in primary school.