KS2 maths SATs: understanding the test
At the end of Year 6 all children sit a KS2 maths SATs exam, which is made up of three papers:
- Paper 1: arithmetic (30 minutes)
- Paper 2: reasoning (40 minutes)
- Paper 3: reasoning (40 minutes)
The arithmetic paper consists of around 36 questions that are all number sentences involving the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). Numbers used may be decimals with up to two places, or whole numbers with up to five digits. Children will be required to calculate with percentages and decimals.
The reasoning papers each consist of around 20 questions, each of which present a problem or puzzle that requires your child to apply their mathematical knowledge in a variety of contexts.
Using practice papers
From 2016, the format and content of SATs has been overhauled, but the 2016 official KS2 Maths SATs papers are now available tod download for home study. It may be a good idea to ask your child to do these papers unaided – maybe doing one paper every other day over the course of a week. You can then mark their papers using the mark scheme, which you can also download, and see where their strong and weak areas are.
You can also download past Y6 SATs papers (these will be in the pre-2016 SATs format, but are still useful for practice) and work through them with your child to help familiarise them with exam technique. Looking through the kinds of questions they will be asked will help you identify any areas of difficulty, as well as boosting your child's confidence by highlighting all the skills they've learned in Key Stage 2.
Going through the arithmetic paper with your child is an excellent way to find out if they are secure with their methods for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and if not, work to address their difficulties. Some of the questions in the arithmetic paper are very difficult, so don't force them on your child until you think they have all the basics. For example, they need to know how to find 10 per cent of an amount before they can possibly find 45 per cent.
When looking at your child's wrong answers in the reasoning papers, see if you can work out what skills they are lacking. For example, if they have misunderstood a two-step problem that requires multiplication and subtraction, where did they go wrong? If they got the multiplication wrong, they may need to brush up on their times tables. If they weren't sure which operations to use, they may need to practise a range of one-step problems before moving onto two-step problems. Think carefully about the skill they need to practise and then use the relevant TheSchoolRun worksheets to help them; you may want to use Year 4 or Year 5 worksheets, if appropriate.
Little and often is the best way to approach SATs revision; maybe you could work on two or three questions a day with your child so that they are not overloaded (read our parents' guide to using a KS2 SATs maths past paper for tips). Don't keep labouring over something they are finding too difficult; they will just get demoralised and you will put them off altogether.
Here are the main maths objectives children will need to know when sitting the SATs. Each one is followed by a link to a TheSchoolRun worksheet that will help your child practise the skill.
Confused by the maths terminology? Our primary-school maths glossary explains the vocabulary in plain English.
Number and place value
|Read, write, order and compare numbers up to 10,000,000 and determine the value of each digit||Read, write and order 7-digit numbers|
|Find the difference between a positive and negative integer||Differences between positive and negative integers|
|Round any number to a required degree of accuracy||Rounding decimals to one decimal place or the nearest whole number
Rounding to two decimal places
Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
|Multiply numbers up to four digits by a two-digit number using long multiplication||Multiplying using long multiplication|
|Divide numbers of up to four digits by a two-digit number using long division||Dividing numbers with the long division method|
|Divide numbers of up to four digits using short division||The short division method|
|Identify common factors, common multiples and prime numbers||Common factors, common multiples and prime numbers puzzles|
Fractions, decimals and percentages
|Use common factors to simplify fractions||Simplifying or reducing fractions|
|Compare and order fractions||Compare and order fractions|
|Add and subtract fractions with different denominators and mixed numbers||Fractions: addition and subtraction|
|Multiply simple pairs of proper fractions||Multiplying pairs of fractions|
|Multiply and divide numbers by 10, 100, and 1000 giving answers up to three decimal places||Multiplying and dividing numbers by 10, 100 and 1000 speed challenge|
|Multiply decimal numbers by whole numbers||Multiplying decimals using the grid method|
|Work out equivalence between simple fractions, decimals and percentages||Equivalent fractions, decimals and percentages memory game|
Ratio and proportion
|Solve problems involving ratio and proportion||Ratio problem-solving
Solving problems: ratio and proportion
|Find percentages of amounts||Percentage problem|
|Solve problems involving similar shapes with a scale factor||Shapes and scale factors|
|Work out simple equations||Introduction to algebra|
|Generate and describe linear number sequences||Linear number sequences explained|
|Find pairs of numbers that satisfy an equation with two unknowns||What could the two numbers be?|
|Solve problems involving the calculation and conversion of units of measure, involving answers with up to three decimal places||Solving length problems
Solving weight problems
Solving capacity problems
|Solve problems involving conversion of time||Converting measures time puzzles|
|Convert between miles and kilometres||Miles and kilometres conversions|
|Calculate the area of parallelograms and triangles||Calculating the area of parallelograms and triangles|
|Work out the volume of cubes and cuboids||Volume of cubes and cuboids|
Geometry: properties of shapes
|Draw 2D shapes using given dimensions and angles||Follow instructions to draw shapes|
|Recognise, describe and build simple 3D shapes, including making nets||Draw your own 3D shape net|
|Find unknown angles in triangles, quadrilaterals and regular polygons||Angles in a triangle
Finding unknown angles in quadrilaterals
|Illustrate and name parts of a circle: radius, diameter and circumference||Parts of a circle|
|Calculate unknown angles that are around a point and on a straight line||Angles around a point|
Geometry: position and direction
|Describe positions on all four quadrants of the co-ordinates grid||Co-ordinates and quadrants|
|Draw simple shapes on the co-ordinate plain, then translate and reflect them||Translating and reflecting shapes on all four quadrants|
|Interpret and construct pie charts and line graphs and use these to solve problems||Answering questions on a pie chart
Answering questions on a line graph
Displaying information as a pie chart
Constructing a line graph
|Calculate and interpret the mean as an average||Calculating the mean average|
KS2 English SATs revision
For preparation and revision tips for Year 6 English SATs see our KS2 English SATs revision helper.