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
Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
Fractions, decimals and percentages
Ratio and proportion
Geometry: properties of shapes
Geometry: position and direction
KS2 English SATs revision
For preparation and revision tips for Year 6 English SATs see our KS2 English SATs revision helper.
SAT's Timetable 2014
SAT's Week~ May 12th - May 16th
All children entered for the SAT's tests will sit the level 3-5 tests. Some children will be entered for the level 6 papers if they are already working towards that level.
The timetable is set by the Department for Education. Most tests will be taken in the morning.
Levels 3-5 English reading test
Level 6 English reading test
Levels 3-5 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test
Level 6 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test
Levels 3-5 mental mathematics test
Levels 3-5 mathematics Paper 1
No level 6 tests timetabled for this day
Levels 3-5 mathematics Paper 2
Level 6 mathematics Paper 1
Level 6 mathematics Paper 2
SPAG (Spelling Punctuation And Grammar)- 45 mins + 15 mins approx
The English grammar, punctuation and spelling test at levels 3-5 has two components, worth a total of 70 marks:
- a booklet of short-answer questions
- a spelling task
Paper 1, the short-answer questions, consists of between 40 and 50 questions assessing grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. Each question is worth one or two marks with a total for the paper of 50 marks. The questions are:
- selected response items (such as multiple choice questions) or
- short, open response items, in which children may have to write a word, a few words or a sentence.
Paper 2, the spelling task, consists of 20 sentences, which are read aloud by the test administrator. Each sentence has a word missing which the child must complete. The task is worth a total of 20 marks.
READING- 1 hour
The texts in the levels 3-5 English reading booklet will not be linked by a theme. The booklet will contain three or four texts. The least demanding text will come first with the following texts increasing in level of difficulty.
Children will read the texts and complete the questions at their own pace.
The reading answer booklet will comprise approximately 35 to 40 questions (totalling 50 marks). The questions are:
- shorter, closed response items (such as multiple choice and matching questions);
- shorter, open response items; and
- longer, open response items that require children to explain and comment on the texts in order to demonstrate a full understanding.
Questions are worth 1, 2 or 3 marks.
MATHS- 2x 45mins and 20 mins
The levels 3-5 mathematics test consists of:
- two non-calculator papers, Paper 1 and Paper 2, each lasting 45 minutes
- mental mathematics test, lasting 20 minutes
Children’s marks from all three tests are aggregated to calculate their overall mathematics level.
These web sites have great revision tools and games to help year 6 children prepare for the tests:
Excellent, well advertised, resources from the BBC covering English, Maths and Science.
Booster Sea Mission
Maths based sea mission.
Who wants to be a Mathionaire?
Maths questions delivered in the style of 'Who wants to be a millionaire?'
The ICT Teachers site has lots of KS2 SATs practice questions.
Countdown numbers and letters games
True or False
Year 6 true or false maths questions
Activities for English, maths and science.
Revise 7 areas of maths topics.
Your School Site
Calculation and Problem Solving quizzes.