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KS1 & KS2 SATs Explained:

Everything You Need To Know

What are SATs?

SATs are Standard Assessment Tests administered by primary schools that measure children’s educational achievement in years 2 and 6, with the ultimate aim of holding schools to account for the attainment of their pupils and the progress they make.

How are SATs marked?

SATs papers are marked differently depending on whether children are in Key Stage 1 (Year 2), or in Key Stage 2 (Year 6) when they sit them.

How they are marked in KS1

In Year 2, children sit official SATs in English and maths.

They are then marked by the class teacher. However, a small number of papers from the school may be sent to the local education authority to be moderated. This is purely to assess the quality and consistency of the marking, as opposed to the work done by the child.

How they are marked in KS2

In Year 6, children will sit SATs in maths, English reading, English grammar, punctuation and spelling.

These exams are marked in a different manner to the Year 2 SATs, as these papers are marked externally. Children may also sit a science SAT, but these tests are only given to 10,000 schools to assess national standards at KS2, and they are teacher assessed in most schools.

When and how will I get the SATs results?

Schools will receive the provisional results for both the schools’ performance and pupil’s individual performance by the end of July.  At this stage, the results are only provisional, as they are subject to additional checking by schools.  This stage is important as it gives schools a chance to dispute any results they think may be incorrect, or to put in a request to have a paper remarked.

KS1 SATs Results (Year 2)

In Year 2, parents are unlikely to be given their child’s KS1 SATs results unless you ask for them. However, parents will be told whether or not a child is working at the expected standard as part of the teacher report that is presented at the end of KS1.

KS2 SATs Results (Year 6) 

Once the final Year 6 SATs results are confirmed, it is up to the school itself to decide how they give out the results of individual tests to parents.  Some schools may tell parents immediately, some may publish results as part of their end-of-year school reports, providing the results have come back by then (for example, in the case of disputed results).

National Year 6 SATs Results

The following results and league tables are all published in December:

  • The national SATs results

  • The Local Authority SATs results

  • Individual school SATs results


What you need to know about the SATs results of one year compared to another

The National SATs results record the percentage of pupils nationally who have met ‘the expected standard’ in the subject. This means they have achieved a scaled score of 100 or more. See below for more information on these.

School SATs results are much more variable than national results, so it’s not uncommon to see a drop or a rise of 30 or 40 points in percentage terms from one year to the next. This means that just 3 children fewer out of a class of 30 achieving the expected standard from one year to the next will mean 10% fewer have passed their SATs that year. And inevitably there are differences between cohorts in a school.


You may also see wide variation between scores in different subjects at a school. This is why the ‘combined SATs score’ measure was introduced. It aims to ensure that schools are looked at for their success ‘in the round’ not just in their ability to get 100% of their children to reach the expected standard in maths.


What do the SATs scores mean?

When attempting to understand SATs scores, one source of confusion for many parents is the change that took place for the 2016 SATs.  Since 2016, the National Curriculum levels that were used to score SATs papers have been replaced by scaled SATs scores.  This scoring method is used for school assessments in countries all around the world, and it is seen as a fair method to use when looking at test results. It allows for differences in the difficulty of tests on a year-by-year basis, which in turn allows different cohorts’ results to be compared.

how does scaled scoring work?

To begin, children will receive a raw score. This is simply the actual number of marks they achieved in their SATs.

Then, their raw score is converted into a scaled score and this is used to judge how well a child has done in their SATs paper.

There is a range of scaled scores available for both the KS1 and KS2 SATs.

In KS1, 85 is the lowest score available, and 115 is the highest.

In KS2, 80 is the lowest and 120 is the highest score your child could get.

What is an expected SATs score?

Scaled scoring can often leave parents wondering whether or not their child has attained a ‘good’ score in their SATs, but the system is actually quite simple to understand once the KS1 and KS2 SATs scores have been explained.

It is important to note that what you define as a ‘good’ SATs score obviously depends on the individual child, and the base they’re coming from. For example, a scaled score of 90 would be a great achievement for some pupils.

SATs scores for KS1

115 – This is the highest score a child can get in the KS1 SATs.

101-114 – Any score above 100 (including 115) means that a child has exceeded the expected standard in the test.

100 – This is the expected standard for children (and essentially means a ‘pass’).

85-99 – Any child that is awarded a scaled score of 99 or below has not met the expected standard in their KS1 SATs.

SATs scores for KS2

120 – This is the highest score a child can get in the KS2 SATs.

101-119 – Any score above 100 (including 120) means that a child has exceeded the expected standard in the test.

100 – This is the expected standard for children (and essentially means a ‘pass’).

80-99 – Any child that is awarded a scaled score of 99 or below has not met the expected standard in their KS2 SATs.

KS1 SATs scores explained

In KS1, your child will receive a scaled score detailing their achievements in the SATs.

If your child receives a scaled score of 100, it means that they are working at the expected standard.

If your child receives a scaled score of 100 or more, it means that they are working above the expected standard.

If your child receives a scaled score of 99 or less, it indicates that they are working below the expected standard and may need some additional help in maths or English.

Something to be aware of is the fact that teachers are given conversion tables to convert your child’s raw score into a scaled score, and they will then be able to use this data to inform their teacher assessment. This could result in the score your child is given in their report not purely reflecting their SATs score, but also being influenced by classwork and teacher observations.

KS2 SATs scores explained

In Year 6, SATs papers are marked externally, and teachers are not involved in the assessment.

Your child will again receive a raw score, a scaled score and an indication of whether or not they are working at the expected standard. You are unlikely to see your child’s raw score, but you will be likely to see their scaled score and a code that indicates the outcome of their test.

The KS2 outcomes codes that you may see are:

  • AS: Pupil has achieved the expected standard.

  • NS: Pupil has not achieved the expected standard.

  • A: Pupil was absent from one or more of the test papers.

  • B: Pupil is working below the level assessed by the KS2 SATs.

  • M: Pupil missed the test.

  • T: Pupil is working at the level of the tests, but is unable to access them (this could be due to all or part of a test not being suitable for a child with particular special educational needs).

Year 6 teacher assessment results explained

In addition to the KS2 SATs results, your child will also get teacher assessment results for reading, writing, mathematics and science. You may see some codes that you are unfamiliar with on this report, but the main ones you can expect to see are:

  • GD/GDSS: Pupil is working at greater depth within the expected standard. This is for writing assessments only.

  • EXP/EXS: Pupil is working at the expected standard.

  • WTS: Pupil is working towards the expected standard.

  • HNM: Pupil has not met the expected standard. This is used for reading and maths assessments only.

  • PKG: 'Pre-key stage, growing development of the expected standard'. This means that a pupil is working at a level lower than expected.

  • PKF: 'Pre-key stage, foundations for the expected standard'. This means that a pupil is working at a level that is significantly lower than the expected.

  • BLW: Pupil is working below the pre-key stage standards, which is the lowest level of attainment.

  • A: This is what you will see if your child was absent.

  • B: This is what you will see if your child is disapplied. This means that they have not been tested at the KS2 level. 

Your school may use other acronyms in their reports. Contact your school directly if they use terms you do not understand.

What do secondary schools do with SATs results?

Secondary schools are told the scaled SATs scores of their incoming pupils, often using these scores to stream children coming into Year 7.  Some schools, however, use a combination of these results and their own internal testing systems in order to stream children.  Some schools, however, choose not the stream according to ability and instead teach pupils in mixed ability classes. 

What happens in the other primary school years?

In Years 1, 3, 4 and 5 children do not sit any type of SATs (other than some practice papers). This means that they will not receive an official scaled score and will instead be tested according to the school's preferred assessment strategy (NFER, PiRA, PUMA and GAPS papers are common), usually alongside some form of ongoing, regularly updated 'formative' assessment software system (eg. Educater, Classroom Monitor, Solar For Schools).  For most schools, this will likely be measured according to expected levels for the end of that school year, with your child being either at the expected level or above/below the expected level.

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