SATs revision: your KS1 SATs English helper

KS1 SATs English helper
Help your child prepare for the Year 2 English SATs with some simple and effective reading, writing and spelling activities.

At the end of Year 2 children children take English SATs in reading and in spelling, punctuation and grammar. 

To get a better idea of the kind of tasks your child will be expected to complete in KS1 SATs, you can download a past paper and look through it with them.

The official KS1 English SATs paper for 2016 is available for free download from TheSchoolRun.

TheSchoolRun also offers free access to the 2003 and 2004 papers, the only official pre-2016 test papers available to parents, as well as subscriber-only 'mock' practice papers in the new-curriculum format, introduced in 2016.

In the run-up to KS1 SATs the following tips and activities will boost your child's confidence.

Reading and KS1 English SATs: tips and advice

Practise little and often
Try to set aside 10 or 15 minutes a day to read with your child. A short burst of reading every day won't feel like hard work but will really help them build up their reading skills over time.

Enjoy a range of texts
It's great to read stories, but the SATs test will include non-fiction texts too. Next time you take your child to the library, direct them to the non-fiction section instead of making a beeline for the story books and allow them to choose a variety of books that interest them. It may be a good idea to let them browse these books on their own and then ask them later about the facts they have learnt.

Try some tricks for decoding
Decoding
means seeing a letter or word written down and being able to say it out loud. Help your child to decode tricky words by encouraging them to sound out each individual sound before blending them together. It may help if you write the word in large letters on a piece of paper and underline each sound:

th  i  n  k

If your child is struggling with a particular sound, for example: 'th', write several words containing this sound on separate pieces of paper then hold them up as flashcards for them to practise reading out loud.
Another good tip for decoding a tricky word is to encourage your child to read the whole sentence, missing out the difficult word. Get them to try and work out the word from the context of the sentence.

Comprehension check
Make sure you ask your child questions about a text they are reading. Many of the questions in the SATs will focus on retrieval of information, which is literally finding information in the text (for example: What did Cinderella leave at the prince's palace?). Other questions will focus on inference, where children need to work out what a character is thinking or feeling from their behaviour (for example: Why were the ugly sisters cross when they realised the shoe didn't fit them?). It is also a good idea to ask your child to predict what will happen next in the story and ask them why they have made this prediction. 

Writing and KS1 English SATs: tips and advice

Use books as a starting point
If your child is excited about a particular book or story, use this as a means to get them enthusiastic about writing. Encourage them to do a writing task related to the story they are reading, for example: writing a diary entry as a particular character, writing another scene for a story or writing a description of a particular picture they like in the story.

Pile on the details
Use of description is really important in fiction. Show your child a picture from a story and encourage them to fill a page with lots of descriptive phrases about the picture. Tell them that punctuation is not important at this stage, but good ideas are! Help them to imagine that they are 'in' the picture and ask them to talk about what they can see, hear, feel and smell. Once they have jotted down all their ideas, help them to write these ideas into full sentences. 

If your child writes using lots of short, simple sentences, this is a great opportunity to begin to encourage them to join (or extend) sentences using connectives such as 'and', 'but', 'because' and 'so'.

Have a go at different genres
Again, don't just focus on writing stories. Encourage your child to write non-fiction texts such as instructions for playing a game, a letter to their favourite author, a non-chronological report or explanation text about a topic they are interested in, a recount of an important day in their lives. Look up these non-fiction genres in TheSchool Run primary literacy glossary to find out more about them and how teachers guide children through the process of writing these texts.

Spelling, handwriting and KS1 English SATs: tips and advice

Look out for your child's spelling mistakes when they are writing and encourage them to write in neat, joined handwriting. Writing spellings out several times in joined writing can really help children to remember all the letter strings within words.

Most children in Year 2 will be writing 'joined-up' by the end of Key Stage 1. If you are worried about their penmanship it might be worth checking they are using the correct joins between each letter as these habits can be hard to break at a later stage!