Top Test Techniques for the Key Stage 2 SATs

York Notes Primary consultant Janet Thompson shares some tips for the KS2 SATs.


It is that time of year when our little ones seem so grown up and have to sit formal tests to capture their level of achievement for the end of Key Stage 2.

Some children are confident and cope well in a test situation. Some don’t even realise they have just completed a test, while others can crumble or read and process things so slowly they simply lack the stamina and resilience to get through it!

Here are some great practical tips to pass on to your child – even if they only remember some of these Top Test Techniques, they’ll be more prepared and able to do their best.


Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Test (GPS)

8 C’s Test Technique: C is for …

1. Correct number of boxes are ticked. Follow the instructions, e.g. Tick two

2. Carefully read and use the clue words. What is it asking?

3. Clear punctuation, e.g. commas, direct speech, and full stops. Write them correctly and in the right place.

4. Capital letters are correct, e.g. not in the middle of sentences; for the pronoun ‘I’ and names.

5. Contracted forms are written the right way and in the right position, e.g. cannot – can’t.

6. Cross out an incorrect answer and make it clear.

7. CHECK! If you get stuck, go on and come back later. Remember to do a final check.

8. Finally, stay Calm! Think, take a deep breath and slowly count to ten. Tell yourself ‘I’m doing great!’


Here are few extra tips for the main English SATs papers:


GPS Paper 1

Tackle each question, one at a time, giving each one a go.

Read the questions carefully so you know what to do.

Use the information you are given. In Paper 1 the key words in the question are always in bold.


Reading Paper

Tackle one text at a time. Not all three at once!

Read the whole text, don’t skip parts. Try to spend 5-10 minutes reading it properly before you start answering questions.

Use the clues and information in the question to help you, e.g. it might tell you to look at a particular paragraph or phrase.


And for both papers:

Only answer what you have been asked. If it asks you to write two words, then do just that!

Follow the instruction. If it says ‘tick’ or ‘circle’ make sure you do it! If it says choose two, then do just that, not three!

Look out for the marks. If a question has two or three marks, you may need to do more than one thing!

Move on to the next question if you are stuck, move on and come back to it later if you have time. It might be impossible to answer ALL the questions.

Read through your answers carefully if you finish in time. This means reading each question again and making sure you have answered it correctly.

Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions.


For further help and advice, try our Complete Revision and Test Practice to help your child firm up what they already know and revise things they may have forgotten. This book has plenty of SAT practice activities to help children boost their skills and confidence. There is such a lot to remember, so we hope these tips will help you both feel confident and well prepared!


Janet is a Specialist Leader (SLE) in English and Teaching & Learning, a primary school teacher and a parent.