Maddy Barnes shares her views on the 2023 SATs GPS paper

We can analyse the content of the GPS test, compare the test to previous years and indeed speculate on the standard of the test. However, there are some ‘unknowns’ that will continue to cause mass speculation including:

  • What the threshold for the those working towards the expected standard, working at the expected standard and working at the greater depth standards will be
  • How the test will be marked – although the mark scheme has been published, schools are always cautious over how the marking principles for different questions will be applied.

Firstly, let’s consider some initial reactions to the content of the test this year:

  • The 2023 GPS Paper 1 appeared to be very text-heavy – lots of reading for pupils to get through
  • Once again when considering the content domains, G1 (Grammatical terms or word classes) and G5 (Punctuation) have carried the most weight
  • The majority of questions required pupils to tick a box, insert punctuation or circle/underline. However, some of these items are the most challenging on the paper – for example one question requires pupils to circle the three determiners. This is question 46 out of a possible 50. We know that the content in both papers gets more challenging throughout the paper 
  • There was only one item (number 37) that required pupils to really reason and explain their grammatical understanding.

In terms of the GPS Paper 2 Spelling, initial reactions are that many of the words for pupils to spell were challenging.

Initial analysis of the above:

Content first introduced in all previous years (including years 1 and 2) is represented in both Paper 1 and Paper 2. If we look at the last ten questions – the most challenging items in the paper – we can identify the content and where this was first introduced in school.

  • As we have often seen in previous years (2017, 2018, 2019) some items require pupils to do a significant amount of work for one mark – for example questions 3; 5 and 42
  • Some items are very open-ended for pupils – questions 23 and 31 require pupils to tick all the correct responses (interestingly, both items have 2 correct responses)
  • Similarly, questions 25, 43 and 48 require pupils to circle all of the adjectives/ full stops and capital letters and conjunctions which adds another layer of difficulty and the need to be precise.

We can only wait until the 2023 thresholds have been released…then we can begin to identify implications for teaching in 2023 - 2024. 

We will continue to wait for the thresholds and results day so that we can truly measure how our pupils have achieved and which items challenged our pupils most.

About Maddy Barnes (@MoonMaddy)

Maddy Barnes is an experienced primary school teacher and senior leader who is currently a full-time English Advisor.
She offers bespoke training to support schools locally, nationally and internationally.
Maddy still regularly teaches in the classroom and includes live-teaching sessions in most of her training.
Maddy is an established educational author, writer, blogger and series editor for a range of educational publishers.
She is a DfE QA proofer for grammar and reading and works within test development.
Maddy is a KS2 Writing Moderator and blogs regularly for a range of educational settings.


Grammar, SATs, spelling

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