Students in English schools take SATs exams twice – once in Year 2 (Key Stage 1) and once in Year 6 (Key Stage 2).

There is a lot of controversy around whether students should be assessed at such a young age but regardless of opinions, the SATs exist and it is better to be in ‘the know’ than not.

The SATs exams are National Curriculum assessments and according to the experts, they are used to determine the level students are working to as opposed to be about passing or failing.


In the summer term of Year 2 students take compulsory SATs exams although unlike the ones taken in Year 6, the administration of these are often less formal.  They will be assessed in Reading, English Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling, and Maths.

Reading – This consists of two papers whereby students will be given a selection of passages (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) based on which they must answer questions.

Grammar, Spelling & Punctuation – This also consists of two papers: Paper 1 has a 20 word spelling test, and Paper 2 has two sections to cover grammar, punctuation and vocabulary.  In 2017 this test is optional so it is up to schools whether or not to administer the test.

Maths – This consists of two papers: Paper 1 is arithmetic and Paper 2 is mathematical fluency, problem solving and reasoning.  No calculators or number lines are allowed as aids.

The papers are set externally but marked by the school.


At the end of Year 6 (click here for dates) students sit tests in Reading, Maths and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar.  The tests are set and marked externally and the results are used to both measure school performance as well as to give teachers a more accurate picture of student attainment.

Reading – This is a single 1 hour paper with questions based on three passages of text.
Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling – This part of the assessment involves a 45 minute written paper (grammar and punctuation) and a 15 minute aural spelling test of 20 words.
Maths – There are three written papers:

  • Paper 1 – arithmetic, 30 minutes
  • Paper 2 & 3 – reasoning, 40 minutes per paper

Some students will also take Science SATs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.