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Key Stage 1 SATs explained


They Key Stage 1 SATs officially assess your child’s maths and English abilities. Although these are formal tests, they are done in a relaxed way; in fact most children are not even aware they’re taking a test!

There are a number of elements to the KS1 SATS tests, including maths, reading and English grammar, punctuation and spelling.

English reading: Two papers

  • Short test and questions
  • Longer test with separate questions

Mathematics: Two papers

  • Arithmetic
  • Mathematical reasoning

What do the tests consist of?


There are two reading papers. Each paper has a selection of texts and children have to fill in answer booklets. One paper takes about 30 minutes and the other takes about 40 minutes.

There are two maths papers. Paper 1 is on arithmetic; it takes about 20 minutes. Paper 2 has five aural questions and then some problem-solving questions; it takes about 35 minutes in total.

There is also an optional spelling, punctuation and grammar test that consists of 20 spellings and a 20-minute paper.

None of the papers are strictly timed and teachers can use their discretion to decide if pupils need a rest break during any of the tests or, if appropriate, to stop a test early.


The testing process

Schools receive the test papers in the week beginning 16 April. All test materials must be stored securely and treated as confidential.

The tests are taken in May, but there are no set days and they may be given to groups of pupils on different days. The packs with test papers should only be opened in the test room immediately before the school administers the tests for the first time. School staff must not discuss the content of the papers.

The tests are marked internally by teachers using the mark schemes provided by the Standards and Testing Agency.


Who gets the test results?


Schools are not obliged to report individual test results to parents, but parents must be given their child’s results on request.

If a school is chosen by its local authority for an external moderation visit (25 per cent of schools are moderated each year), the school must ensure that key stage 1 test papers are available for external moderation.


How do the tests feed into teacher assessments?


The test results must be used to support the teacher assessment of how a pupil has performed at the end of key stage 1, which schools are required by law to carry out.

Both headteachers and local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that the results of the key stage 1 tests are used to inform the school’s teacher-assessment judgements.


What happens to the teacher assessments?


Teacher assessments are made on reading, maths, writing and science using national criteria to judge whether a child is at the expected standard. There are no tests for writing and science.

Schools must submit key stage 1 teacher-assessment data to local authorities by the end of June. They do not have to submit the test results, but may choose to do so. Local authorities do not pass test data to the Department for Education.

The key stage 1 teacher-assessment results are not published at school level, but are published in aggregate at local authority and national level.

2018 Key Stage 1 tests

This 6-minute video provides information for parents about the Key Stage 1 tests, including the optional Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling Test. A downloadable version is available for schools: A separate video is available for schools not using the GPS test: