SATs 2018 Round-up: surprises, challenges and lessons-learnt

Thanks to Tennyson Road, Christ Church CE Primary, and Medmerry Primary school for sharing their reactions to the 2018 SATs. 

How did you find the SATs this year?  Tweet us your thoughts on this year's tests @RSAssessment

Tennyson Road Primary School

“Thanks to Rising Stars resources, our children were well prepared and took on the challenge with enthusiasm” - Carla Gotch, Tennyson Road Primary School

‘I really enjoyed that Miss!’ was the cry from Kestrel class after closing their final paper on Thursday Morning. A smile creeping across my face. If nothing else I had done my job right! 30 happy children all confident and enjoying SATs! Or maybe that was just the SATs breakfast they had each day...

As always, we discussed the papers as a team and all of us felt that each paper was fair and gave all of our children an opportunity to access the questions. There was a wide variety of question styles and our children seemed to enjoy this. We noticed that there was a sneaky extra few questions on the English papers but our children took it in their stride. The spelling list was definitely a tricky one covering lots of rules and some that could really catch you out. Thanks to the high level challenging resources that we have used from Rising stars such as Rising Stars Spelling and Cracking Comprehension our children were well prepared and took on the challenge with enthusiasm.


Christ Church CE Primary, Oldbury 

“Pupils used to the format (and timings) could complete the paper as expected” Year 6 staff team at Christ Church CE Primary, Oldbury 

The grammar paper seemed fair overall, with many questions covering earlier key stage 2 content such as prepositions, types of sentences (command, statement etc) and subordinating and coordinating conjunctions.  The obvious changes included: the reduction in match and tick box type questions, whereby pupils could previously have a multiple choice/ guess whether a word was a particular word class. For example, more questions asked for pupils to write, in words, the type seen, e.g. 'noun phrase'; and there were an increased number of questions with several parts (up to four things correct to attain one mark). Several questions focused on formality/ formal language, and there were more difficult questions related to identifying and writing types of clauses. There were still pages and pages of questions to get through - and a few really tricky questions deliberately there to test for pupils at 'greater depth’.

In reading, our pupils found the first, non-fiction giant panda text engaging and accessible - similar in length and layout to many comparable practise tests we had been through since Easter. The range of questions to accompany the panda text included types we had covered, including matching vocabulary words to synonyms and sequencing steps through from 1-5. There seemed to be fewer matching type questions - a theme which had been seen in the previous day's grammar paper too. The second text was a poem; we have been waiting years to see one again! This one-page narrative poem about a grandmother was accessible and had short stanzas which helped all readers follow the story/theme. There were numerous questions about this poem – many literal, rather than author choice and effect type questions. The sheer number of questions was a challenge for pupils to push on through to the third, three-page more classic text. Luckily, this last piece had large illustrations and the evidence for the two, three-mark questions at the close seemed to be largely on the last page of the extract; the format/ prompting for the three-mark questions seemed clearer (but we’ll have to wait for the marking criteria).

In maths, the arithmetic paper was a fair representation of key stage 2 content except the final question (long division ninth multiple). Pupils well-used to the format, and also to past papers (and timings), could complete the paper as expected and within the timeframe. The first reasoning paper seemed overly wordy, with the content matched to curriculum expectations – but with the exception of the more complicated Mercury/ planet Earth question. In the second reasoning paper, lots of interpretation was needed to solve the problems, but there was extra scope there for pupils to earn extra marks even if their final answers were incorrect (method marks). Overall, our staff and pupils were surprised at the reduced number of data and geometry questions on the reasoning papers this year.


Medmerry Primary School

“There were plenty of lovely maths problems, but it’s fair to say that there was plenty of challenge” Michael Tidd, Medmerry Primary School

Another year over, and we’ve reached a point where we can begin to get a sense of the direction of things to come. After the shock of 2016, and the adjustments of 2017, the word of the week this year seemed to be ‘fair’. Now we all know roughly what to expect, the surprises were fewer and easier to take. The Reading test seems to have settled into a more reasonable sequence, with texts and questions becoming more challenging through the test instead of the hotchpotch a couple of years ago.

Over the course of the week, the paper that seemed to throw up most panic was the first of the maths reasoning papers. As a mathematician, I thought there were plenty of lovely maths problems in there, but it’s fair to say that there was plenty of challenge, too. Fortunately, the final paper seemed to even things up a bit – the reverse of last years’ experience.

Starting with the grammar test on the Monday felt like a gentler introduction, although the paper was not without its hurdles. Was it just me that felt like terminology took centre stage this year? And the spelling test continues to provide some weird and wonderful vocabulary, but ‘inconceivable’ felt like a more reasonable challenge that the curveball that was “coarse” last year.

Overall, no great travesties, a few oddities, but a generally fair set of tests. Of course, the proof of that will be in the thresholds…


 Join the conversation on twitter!

Thanks to Tennyson Road, Christ Church CE Primary, and Medmerry Primary school for sharing their reactions to the 2018 SATs. We’d love to hear reactions from other schools across the country – get in touch on twitter @RSAssessment.

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Implications for Teaching 2018

We’ll be releasing our hugely popular Implications for Teaching report on the 2018 SATs later this year. Look out for more information on this in the next few weeks!


english, grammar, key stage 2, maths, reading, spelling

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