British National Curriculum Assessments (SATs)

Year 1. The Phonics Screening Check

The Phonics Screening Check shows how the child can use their phonics skills.

The Department for Education defines the checks as “short, light-touch assessments” that take about four to nine minutes to complete.

The checks consist of 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read one-on-one with a teacher.


Structure of the Phonics Screening Check

The Phonics Screening Check contains 40 words divided into two sections of 20 words. Both sections contain a mixture of real words and pseudo-words.

Section 1

  • Page 1 Four pseudo-words
  • Page 2 Four pseudo-words
  • Page 3 Four pseudo-words
  • Page 4 Four real words
  • Page 5 Four real words

Section 2

  • Page 6 Four pseudo-words
  • Page 7 Four pseudo-words
  • Page 8 Four real words
  • Page 9 Four real words
  • Page 10 Four real words

All pseudo-words in the check are accompanied by a picture of an imaginary creature, to ensure that they are not trying to match the pseudo-word to a word in their vocabulary.


Content of the Phonics Screening Check

Section 1

The words in Section 1 will have a variety of simple word structures (for example CVC, VCC, CCVC and CVCC) using:

  • single letters (a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, I, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q(u), r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z)
  • some consonant digraphs (ch, ck, ff, ll, ng, sh, ss, th, zz)
  • frequent and consistent vowel digraphs (ar, ee, oi, oo,or)

Section 2

The words in Section 2 will have a variety of more complex word structures (for example CCVCC, CCCVC, CCCVCC and two syllable words) with some:

  • additional consonant digraphs (ph, wh)
  • less frequent and consistent vowel digraphs, including split digraphs (a-e, ai, au, aw, ay, ea, e-e, er, ew, i-e, ie, ir, oa, o-e, ou, ow, oy, ue, u-e, ur)
  • trigraphs (air, igh).

The KS1 tests are designed to test pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the KS1 programmes of study.

The KS1 tests consist of:

  • English Reading Paper 1: combined reading prompt and answer booklet
  • English Reading Paper 2: reading booklet and reading answer booklet
  • Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic
  • Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 1: spelling (optional)
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: questions (optional)

Paper 1: English reading prompt and answer booklet

This component of the test consists of a combined reading prompt and answer booklet. It is expected that the test will take approximately 30 minutes to complete (not strictly timed). The paper includes a list of useful words and some practice questions for the teacher to use to introduce the contexts and question types to pupils.

Paper 2: English reading booklet and reading answer booklet

This component of the test consists of a reading booklet and a separate reading answer booklet. It is expected the test will take approximately 40 minutes to complete (not strictly timed).There are no practice questions or useful words provided in this paper.

Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic

This component of the test consists of a single test paper. It is expected the test will take approximately 20 minutes to complete (not strictly timed). It assesses pupils’ fluency in the fundamentals of mathematics, including place value, calculations and fractions. Some questions have grids in the answer or working out spaces

Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning

This component of the test consists of a single test paper. It assesses pupils’ ability to solve problems and reason mathematically. It is expected the reasoning paper will take approximately 35 minutes to complete (not strictly timed. This paper has 2 sections: an aural section and a written section. The first section starts with a practice aural question followed by 5 aural questions. After the aural questions, the pupils are presented with written questions.

English grammar, punctuation and spelling test Paper 1: spelling

This component of the test consists of an answer booklet for pupils to complete 20 missing words and a test transcript to be read by the test administrator. It is expected that the test will take approximately 15 minutes to complete (not strictly timed).

English grammar, punctuation and spelling test Paper 2: questions

This component of the test consists of a single test paper. It focuses on pupils’ knowledge of grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. There are no contextualised questions in the test It is expected that the test will take approximately 20 minutes to complete (not strictly timed).


The KS2 tests consists of:

  • English reading: reading booklet and associated answer booklet
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 1: short answer questions
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: spelling
  • Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic
  • Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning
  • Mathematics Paper 3: reasoning

KS2 English reading test

The English reading test focuses on the comprehension elements of the national curriculum and includes a mixture of text genres. The test is designed so that the texts increase in their level of difficulty. The test consists of a reading booklet and a separate answer booklet. Pupils will have one hour to read the 3 texts in the reading booklet and complete the questions which are worth 50 marks in total.

KS2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test

The grammar, punctuation and spelling test focuses on knowing and applying grammatical terminology with the full range of punctuation tested. There are 2 papers:

  • Paper 1: short answer questions is a combined question and answer booklet. Pupils will have 45 minutes to answer the questions which are worth 50 marks in total.
  • Paper 2: spelling consists of a test transcript to be read by the test administrator and an answer booklet for pupils to complete 20 missing words. The test is expected to take approximately 15 minutes, but is not strictly timed. The questions are worth 20 marks in total.

The mathematics test comprises 2 components, presented to pupils as 3 test papers:

  • Paper 1: arithmetic assesses basic mathematical calculations. The questions cover straightforward addition and subtraction and more complex calculations with fractions worth 1 mark each. They also cover long divisions and long multiplications worth 2 marks each. Pupils will have 30 minutes to answer the questions which are worth 40 marks.
  • Paper 2: reasoning
  • Paper 3: reasoning

Papers 2 and 3 assess mathematical fluency, solving mathematical problems and mathematical reasoning. Pupils will have 40 minutes to complete each test paper worth 35 marks per paper.