Reactions to the 2022 SATs Reading tests

The waiting is over, and we now have another suite of Key Stage 2 Reading tests to add to our collections… After speculating about what the 2022 SATs test might look like, what is your gut reaction to it?

Many schools have shared the opinion that their year 6 pupils found the texts accessible in comparison to previous tests (since 2016). If that is the case in your school, where pupils felt confident after the reading test, it is comforting to know that pupils felt the test went well. However, many year 6 teachers and SLT have also shared that although pupils thought the texts were accessible staff’s impressions were that many questions were difficult and demanding (specifically the wording of some questions).

Ahead of 10th May, we knew:

  • That there would be 3 extracts and the ratio would be 2:1 (2 fiction for every non-fiction)
  • That the three extracts would get progressively more demanding
  • That the maximum marks would be 50
  • That the questions would assess the KS2 Content Domains

We were confident in the above because on 19th April 2022, the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) communicated the following with schools regarding all of the 2022 Key Stage 2 SATs:

Q: Has STA raised the expected standards used in assessments in 2022?
A: The expected standards for our assessments in 2022 have not been raised compared to pre-pandemic arrangements. The tests we will use are those which were due to be administered in 2020 and the teacher assessment frameworks remain unchanged.

We can analyse the content of the reading 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 for how the marking principles for different questions will be applied.

Firstly, let’s look at the content of the test this year:


Extract 1

Extract 2

Extract 3

Source of text

The Parsnips,’ taken from ‘Girls F.C 6 What’s Ukraninan for Football? Helena Pielichaty (Walker Books Ltd, 2009)

My Circus Life,’ adapted from an article in Timeout Magazine Chicago, Karl Kamin (2012)

A Traveller in Time,’ taken from ‘A Traveller in Time, Alison Uttley (Jane Nissen Books, 2007)

Type of text


Non-fiction (interview)



Description of text (from the test) Veronika plays for “The Parsnips”, a girls’ football team. In the extract below, Veronika is running late and has just got back to her house. Her sister (Sofi), brother (Yuri) and uncle are all waiting for the arrival of the team bus to pick her up. She is very excited because this is the day of the team’s biggest challenge. This text is an interview with Vladik Miagkostoupov, a juggler, and acrobat with a famous travelling circus. This text is about a young girl called Penelope who describes an unusual experience in her home. The story takes place in the early 20th century before electric lights were common in most households.
Number of marks available 16/50 15/50 19/50
Proportion of marks per questions

10 x 1 mark

3 x 2 marks

9 x 1 mark

3 x 2 marks

11 x 1 mark

1 x 2 marks

2 x 3 marks


Initial analysis of the above (a more detailed analysis will be published later in the year in Rising Stars Implications for Teaching Report):

  • Fiction; non-fiction and fiction. This is a sequence of texts that pupils often favour because the expected standard readers have an opportunity to answer questions across fiction and non-fiction in the first two extracts. We have seen this sequence of texts in both 2017 and 2019 where non-fiction was the middle extract.
  • For the first time since the introduction of this style of test, the 3rd extract carries the most marks – 19/50 marks. This may have implications for pupils depending on the threshold. The threshold for expected standard readers was 28/50 in 2019. If the same threshold is published, cuspy age-related readers who might not get to the 3rd extract will have very little wriggle room in the first two extracts that carry 31/50 marks combined.
  • As we have often seen in previous years (2017, 2018, 2019) both 3 mark questions testing inference (impression/evidence) were in the 3rd extract. Many pupils are able to access these questions as they have been taught how to make a point and justify it with evidence from the text.

As we now begin the second waiting game…the 2022 thresholds, we can begin to identify implications for teaching in 2022-2023. Based on the 2022 Reading Test, here are some questions you might consider for your settings:

  • Does the reading diet at your school prepare pupils to be able to read across three very different types of texts?
  • Are pupils across KS1 and KS2 equipped with the skills to answer questions that are presented in different ways?
  • How does your reading curriculum ensure that pupils can read with stamina?
  • How is vocabulary taught in your setting and how is resilience managed when pupils face unfamiliar vocabulary?
  • How is reading assessed across your school and is that tool as rigorous and precise as the KS2 reading mark schemes?

In April, STA confirmed that ‘One aim of assessments this year is to gain an understanding of the impact of the pandemic. Headteachers will be best placed to judge if any absence has been so significant, the pupil is not working at the overall standard as a result.

We will continue to wait for the thresholds and results day so that we can truly measure the impact of the pandemic on pupils’ reading standards.

What we are certain of is that schools; teachers and pupils have done their best.

In the autumn term, we will be publishing our latest Implications for Teaching and Learning Report for Reading, which will provide a full report with details on the 2022 KS2 SATs results with recommendations on how to prepare for the SATs in 2023. Sign up here if you’d like to receive this free report.

Maddy is an experienced primary school teacher and senior leader who is currently a full-time English Consultant offering bespoke training to support schools locally, nationally and internationally. Maddy is the series editor for Read in to Writing and author of Achieve's Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling revision books.

Refresh and boost knowledge with Achieve SATs Revision Reading, including a Revision Book to refresh and boost knowledge, a Question Workbook to allow pupils to apply this knowledge and Practice Papers designed to mirror the SATs. Great resources to prepare pupils as they head to secondary school in September. View samples and order online.

Read more about our experts’ thoughts on the 2022 SATs for Mathematics and GPS here:


Achieve, key stage 2, ks2, Reading, sats

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