Changes to KS2 SATs in 2023: what parents need to know
KS2 SATs in Year 6
At the end of Year 6, children in England sit tests in:
- Grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS)
These tests are both set and marked externally, and the results are used to measure the school’s performance (for example, through reporting to Ofsted and published league tables). Your child’s marks will be used in conjunction with teacher assessment to give a broader picture of their attainment.
The KS2 SATs for English and maths taken since 2016 reflect the amended national curriculum, and are more rigorous than previous years' tests. There is also a new SATs marking scheme and grading system which has replaced national curriculum levels.
In 2020 and 2021 KS2 SATs did not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Primary school SATs results will not be published in national league tables until 2023 to reflect the disruption to children's learning.
Prepare your child for KS2 SATs today
- Your guide to KS2 SATs
- Revision course
- 10 SATs practice papers in English & maths
Key Stage 2 Reading
The reading test is a single paper with questions based on three passages of text. Your child will have one hour, including reading time, to complete the test.
There will be a selection of question types, including:
- Ranking/ordering, e.g. ‘Number the events below to show the order in which they happen in the story’
- Labelling, e.g. ‘Label the text to show the title of the story’
- Find and copy, e.g. ‘Find and copy one word that suggests what the weather is like in the story’
- Short constructed response, e.g. ‘What does the bear eat?’
- Open-ended response, e.g. ‘Look at the sentence that begins Once upon a time. How does the writer increase the tension throughout this paragraph? Explain fully, referring to the text in your answer.’
Since 2018 the reading content of the KS2 SATs has been closely linked to the curriculum to ensure children are drawing on their knowledge when answering reading comprehension questions.
Key Stage 2 grammar, punctuation and spelling test
Usually, the GPS test consists of two parts: a grammar and punctuation paper requiring short answers, lasting 45 minutes, and an aural spelling test of 20 words, lasting around 15 minutes.
The GPS test includes two sub-types of questions:
- Selected response, e.g. ‘Identify the adjectives in the sentence below’
- Constructed response, e.g. ‘Correct/complete/rewrite the sentence below,’ or, ‘The sentence below has an apostrophe missing. Explain why it needs an apostrophe.’
Key Stage 2 maths
Children sit three papers in maths:
- Paper 1: arithmetic, 30 minutes
- Papers 2 and 3: reasoning, 40 minutes per paper
Paper 1 will consist of fixed response questions, where children have to give the correct answer to calculations, including long multiplication and division. Papers 2 and 3 will involve a number of question types, including:
- Multiple choice
- True or false
- Constrained questions, e.g. giving the answer to a calculation, drawing a shape or completing a table or chart
- Less constrained questions, where children will have to explain their approach for solving a problem
Key Stage 2 science
In selected years a number of schools (approximately 1900) are required to take part in science sampling, a test administered to a selected sample of children thought to be representative of the population as a whole.
For those who are selected, there are three papers:
- Biology: 25 minutes, 22 marks
- Chemistry: 25 minutes, 22 marks
- Physics: 25 minutes, 22 marks
Each paper takes a maximum of 25 minutes to complete.
It sounds very intimidating, but these are ‘questions in a physics/chemistry/biology context’, for example:
Biology: ‘Describe the differences in the life cycle of an amphibian and a mammal’
Chemistry: ‘Group a list of materials according to whether they are solid, liquid or gas’
Physics: ‘Predict whether two magnets will attract or repel each other, based on where the poles are facing’
The Department for Education has confirmed there will be no science sampling tests in the 2021/22 academic year.
When will KS2 SATs take place in 2023?
The Year 6 KS2 SATs will be administered in the week commencing 8 May 2023.
The SATs timetable runs as follows:
English GPS Paper 1: questions
English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: spelling
Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic
Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning
Mathematics Paper 3: reasoning
How will Key Stage 2 SATs be marked?
The previous national curriculum levels have been scrapped, and instead children are given scaled scores (read our parents' guide to primary school grading and SATs codes for more details).
You will be given your child’s scaled score and whether they have reached the expected standard set by the Department for Education (‘NS’ means that the expected standard was not achieved and ‘AS’ means the expected standard was achieved).
The range of scaled scores available for each KS2 test is:
- 80 (the lowest scaled score that can be awarded)
- 120 (the highest scaled score)
The expected standard for each test is a scaled score of 100 or more. If a child is awarded a scaled score of 99 or less they won't have achieved the expected standard in the test.
The Department for Education expects at least 65 per cent of children to reach the expected standard (the figure was initially 85 per cent but has been revised).
Download a free parents' guide to KS2 SATs in 2023
Is your child taking Year 6 SATs this year? Print out TheSchoolRun's guide to KS2 SATs for parents.
Are there any practice papers for KS2 SATs?
Yes, the 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022 KS2 SATs papers are now available and can be downloaded for free from TheSchoolRun:
- KS2 English SATs 2016 past papers
- KS2 Maths SATs 2016 past papers
- KS2 English SATs 2017 past papers
- KS2 Maths SATs 2017 past papers
- KS2 English SATs 2018 past papers
- KS2 Maths SATs 2018 past papers
- KS2 English SATs 2019 past papers
- KS2 Maths SATs 2019 past papers
- KS2 English SATs 2022 past papers
- KS2 Maths SATs 2022 past papers
You can also access our current free Year 6 SATs papers here; these relate to the old SATs, so the content and format of the new papers will be different, but they are still useful to help your child familiarise themselves with exam technique.
TheSchoolRun has also commissioned five complete KS2 SATs practice papers for maths and five for English. Available exclusively to subscribers, they are written in the style of the new-curriculum papers and feature similar question types.