Key Stage 1 SATs tests have been a controversial topic for many years. Although they aren't "tests" in the conventional sense, many argue that they squeeze precious time from other lessons; time that could be better spent teaching, rather than preparing. At the tender age of seven, when your child's brain is like a sponge, every hour counts. While I will try to steer clear of the should we or shouldn't we test our children at this age debate, don't let words like "test" and "examination" scare you or your child, as there really is no cause for concern.
Key Stage 1 examinations differ from Key Stage 2 and 3 examinations in that they're low-key. In fact, in most primary school pupils won't know they're being tested - sometimes the parents don't even realise! Results from KS1 SATs are not used in league tables, and they will not aid nor hinder your child's educational development in any way. The resulting "score" is simply used by the Department of Education as a metric to measure a pupil's and/or school's progress value over time.
All Key Stage 1 SATs tests take place during the month of May; however, there are no fixed dates. The tests cover three areas of the curriculum: maths, reading and writing (grammar, spelling and punctuation). Unlike other more serious examinations, your child will not take the Key Stage 1 test under strict exam conditions with an adjudicator, but rather in their usual classroom, with their usual class teacher, and in a small group. Sometimes the exams are even held as a normal class lesson.
The results of Key Stage 1 SATs tests are scaled across the entire country, and then the national average is fixed at 100. If your child scores above 100 they are, theoretically, performing above average in that particular subject. In most circumstances you will never find out exactly how well your child performed. Instead, you will simply be given a general summary, such as "Your child is working to the national average." Or "Your child is working above the national average."
The exam itself is nothing to fear. While some of the questions will be very simple, others will be extremely difficult. In fact, very few pupils are even expected to answer everything. The easy/difficult questions are included to broaden the spectrum, i.e. 70 to 130 on the national scale. If you plan on doing a little revision with your child in preparation for Key Stage 1 exams, feel free to skip over questions that seem too difficult. The last thing you need is for your child to lose his/her confidence in school.
Academic pressure is your child's only enemy, and there's really no need for it. Keep revision fun and informal. Don't talk about the looming exams in front of them, and just try to let your positive vibes shine. You don't need to dedicate hours and hours of strict study time towards Key Stage 1, so don't even think about going through work books and performing timed mock exams. Playing educational KS1 English quizzes, testing times tables, and conducting some kitchen science experiments will be more than enough to give your child a recap of the years gone by and refresh their memory.
Hopefully your mind is now at ease. Key Stage 1 SATs tests may sound scary, but they really are nothing to fear. It's simply a formal name for an informal activity. So just relax and let your children continue working at their own pace. The more comfortable they feel both inside and outside of the classroom, the better.
If you want to know more about what to expect, visit Gov.uk to download previous exam papers.
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