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Countdown to SATs: your action plan

Mum helping child with work
Stressed about SATs? Not sure if your child is ready for the tests? Don’t panic... just follow our six-week action plan for SATs success.

Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs) help teachers to learn more about how well your child is doing in core subjects, including maths and English. They're taken by all children in Year 2 (KS1 SATs) in May. However, from September 2023, KS1 SATs will become non-compulsory. Year 6 (KS2 SATs) are compulsory and will also be taken in May.

With just weeks to go until the tests, schools will be working hard to prepare children to do their best. But a little extra effort at home will make sure your child goes into the tests feeling on top of their game.

Our six-week action plan will help your child feel SATs-ready.

Week one: Get prepared

First and foremost, find out about what’s involved in the tests for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 – our parents' guide will answer your burning questions. Knowing what to expect will help you to help your child.
  • Talk to your child about SATs, so they know what to expect. Bear in mind that many schools keep KS1 SATs very low profile; the tests are often integrated into classwork, and children may not even know they're taking them, so don't worry if your child seems to know nothing.
  • Ask them if they’re unsure about anything they’ve been learning at school, so you’re aware of subjects they may want some extra help with.
  • Talk to your child's teacher about whether there are areas where they could do with extra practice. If your child has a parents' evening coming up, it's a good idea to take them along so they can hear what their teacher thinks they should work on.
  • If you're confused about the terminology your child is using and are unsure how to help, head to our primary school literacy, numeracy and grammar glossaries for an explanation of all those technical terms.
Top tip: Explain to your child that they don’t need to worry about SATs – they won’t be asked questions on anything that they haven’t already learnt. If they're feeling anxious, read our guide to helping children with exam stress to help ease their nerves.

Week two: Start practising

Make sure your child feels confident about what to expect by looking at past papers together. SATs involve a variety of questions, including multiple choice, written answer and odd one out, and familiarising your child with how to tackle the different types will help them feel prepared. 
  • Get your hands on some practice materials. You can download our free SATs past papers, as well as subscriber-exclusive mock papers (developed for TheSchoolRun to offer children extra practice).
  • Look through our KS1 SATs Learning Journey and KS2 SATs Learning Journey for revision worksheets.
  • Encourage your child to complete practice papers under exam conditions: in silence, without asking questions, and in the allotted time. Some kids struggle to complete the papers in time, but the more they practise, the faster they'll get. 
  • Not sure how to make the best of practice materials? We explain how to use KS2 English and maths past papers.
  • Make sure they still have time to play, relax and read for pleasure (which builds vocabulary: an important part of SATs success): children need time to chill if they're to do their best.
Top tip: Help your child stay motivated by downloading a reward chart for their exam prep, and working towards a small weekly reward, with a bigger treat to look forward to once SATs are over.

Week three: Encourage a study habit

Encourage your child to spend some time studying every day. Just ten minutes working on past papers (English, maths and science) every evening can make a big difference to their chances in their SATs – and little and often feels more manageable than long periods spent cramming.
  • Draw up a study plan together, including incentives for the end of each week.
  • Provide your child with a quiet space in which to work. Be on hand to help if you're needed, but make sure they do the work themselves.
  • Focus on the key skills of maths and English. Check out our SATs helpers for KS1 English and maths, and KS2 English and maths
  • Remember, you can't sit the tests for your child, so focus on helping them develop independent study skills rather than spoon-feeding them answers. 
Top tip: Get the work out of the way soon after your child gets home from school, so they have the rest of the evening to relax. Our brilliant after-school snack ideas will fuel them up for homework time.

Week four: Work on weaknesses

By now you’ll have identified the areas in which your child needs extra help, and can focus their revision efforts on these. The more they practise, the more confident they'll feel.
  • Try to set aside time to help them work on these tricky subjects. If you're not sure what you should focus on, ask their teacher for guidance.
  • Spend time focusing on these with our revision tips and tricks.
  • When your child does a past paper, compare their marks to their previous tests: chances are they'll have improved their result, which will give their confidence a boost.
  • Make sure they're really fluent in their times tables, as this will help them work quickly on their maths papers. Try our teachers' tricks for times tables, or download a times tables app to make practice fun.
  • If you're worried about how much your child is struggling, speak to their teacher. They may qualify for special provisions, such as extra time or being allowed to type their answers, but the teacher needs to apply for these in advance.
Top tip: Make revision relevant. Try giving your child problems to solve that relate to real life, such as, ‘If a girl buys a pair of sandals for £12.75 and trainers for £34.99, how much change does she have from a £50 note?’

Week five: Relax!

Although your child's revision schedule is in full flow, regular breaks are essential. If they feel under pressure, they may become stressed and tired, and become more anxious about the tests.
  • Make sure that your child takes time between school and study to relax for a short time with their games console or by watching TV.
  • Time out allows their body and brain to recharge, which helps concentration.
  • Calm their fears with these essential relaxation tips.
  • If there are concepts that they're finding hard to remember, help them develop memory tricks that'll make it easier for them to recall difficult spellings or maths rules. 
  • Find out whether their school is running optional revision sessions; children are often more willing to study under their teacher's supervision than they are at home.
Top tip: Exercise stimulates the part of the brain that’s responsible for learning, so encourage your child to get moving. Going for a family dog walk or a game of football in the park will help recharge their batteries.

Week six: Be positive

SATs are just around the corner. While your child should feel much more confident now, tests can be scary, so dispel those fears.
  • Praise your child for all their hard work, and encourage them to make a list of five things they’re proud of.
  • Keep up the revision, but instead of grilling them with past papers, let them do 10-minute tests, worksheets or puzzles that feel less daunting. Think of it a bit like tapering runs before a marathon: the hard work is done, and now they just need to keep up the momentum.
  • Try some simple relaxation or mindfulness exercises to help them keep their cool.
  • Make sure they eat well to make sure they're able to concentrate. Try these brilliant brain-boosting breakfast ideas for SATs days.
  • Ensure they get plenty of sleep so they feel refreshed on the morning of their test. Beware of distractions such as too much screentime near to bedtime. 
Top tip: Although SATs are important, they’re not the be all and end all. Remind your child to just do their best – you’ll be proud of them no matter what.
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