Sats: KS2 Year 6 reading paper revealed after row over difficulty (2023)

  • Published

Sats: KS2 Year 6 reading paper revealed after row over difficulty (1)Image source, Getty Images

By Hazel Shearing

Education correspondent

The content of last week's Year 6 Sats reading paper has been published early, after some teachers and parents said it was so tough it left children in tears.

One question asked 10 and 11-year-olds to find a similar word to "eat" in a passage that contained both "consume" and "feeding".

Even staff "had to really think" about the answers, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the Sats were "rigorously trialled".

The test materials and mark schemes were due to be published on Monday - but the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) said it was making them available early "due to public interest in the tests".

BBC News obtained a copy of the paper on Wednesday, so was able to look over the questions before their publication.

Concerns have been raised about its length and complexity, with some parents and teachers reporting that children were unable to finish it.

The paper has fuelled a debate among teachers and parents about the purpose of Sats.

  • Sats tests shouldn't be too hard - schools minister
  • Children 'distraught' after Sats reading paper
  • Children in England ranked fourth globally for reading

In the test, children had one hour to answer 38 questions about three set texts.

The first was an extract from a story about friends who believe they have come across sheep "rustlers" - a word used in the text, which means someone who steals animals from farms.

Another was an interview about bats in Texas, which was based on a 2016 New York Times article.

The final passage was taken from a book called "The Rise of Wolves".

Three tough questions in the KS2 Sats reading paper

One head teacher identified what she thought were three of the toughest questions in a phone call with BBC News on Wednesday, before she had seen the mark scheme.

Question 17

Look at Harriet's answer beginning It's actually very appropriate...

Relevant extract: It's actually very appropriate that you call it a "hotspot". The gaps underneath the bridge are a perfect place for mother bats to raise their young. Baby bats are born hairless and have only a few months to develop before travelling south in autumn. They need somewhere warm and safe and the gaps under the bridge are just the right width to trap warmth nicely. These bat pups need to spend their energy on growth, not on keeping themselves warm.

Texas in general is a paradise for bats because of all its tasty insects. A mother bat will go out hunting every evening and consume about two-thirds of her body weight in insects every single night to meet her energy need. The feeding frenzy can last all night.

Answer: The teacher was concerned that the answer was "consume" but many children would have written "feeding". According to the mark scheme, both answers were acceptable.

Question 8

She wriggled back inside the tent...

What does this tell you about how Priya got inside the tent? Tick one.

  • She ran quickly inside.
  • She jumped through the flap.
  • She had to squeeze in.
  • She crept in quietly.

Answer: The answer was that she had to squeeze in, but the teacher believed many children would have chosen crept in.

Question 13

Look at the first two paragraphs.

In which American state is the Congress Avenue Bridge found?

Relevant extract: By day the Congress Avenue Bridge in the city of Austin could hardly look more normal: a grey, dreary city-centre road bridge. By night, it plays host to one of the most amazing shows nature has to offer. The underside of the bridge is home to more than a million bats, and every evening in summer they all come swarming out at once, rising up into the city sky like a tornado before spreading out in all directions like plumes of smoke. Standing on the bridge, you might even feel the wind from their wings as they pass by.

Austin is the capital city of the state of Texas in the USA, but it is also the bat capital of North America. The bats under the bridge attract thousands of visitors every year, and every August lovers celebrate Bat Fest on the bridge in their honour.

Answer: The answer is Texas but the teacher told us it was likely children would not be familiar enough with American geography to know that Austin is not a state.

Joe Saunders, from West Sussex, said his son Alfie does not usually talk too much about school at the end of the day, but "immediately" wanted to tell his parents about the Sats paper last Wednesday.

Image source, Supplied

"Alfie, certainly in his case, was going into this having done really well in all his practices. He was completing all of his reading tests. So he had no concerns that he wasn't going to complete it," he said.

"Of the 15 or 20 that he's done over the last couple of months, the only one he hasn't completed or been able to complete is the one that he did last week, which makes it feel like something went wrong with that paper."


Simon Kidwell, NAHT vice-president and principal at Hartford Manor Primary School and Nursery in Cheshire, said children had "gone home really struggling because they hadn't finished the reading test".

"Staff had to really think about how they would answer those questions. So clearly it was quite a challenging, complex paper," he said.

Asked how hard he thought Sats papers should be, he said: "Children should be able to finish them."

The NAHT has raised concerns with the STA, which delivers assessments, and Ofqual, England's exams regulator.

Gillian Hillier, chief executive of the STA, said this year's papers were "trialled with thousands of pupils" last April and had been developed over "at least three years".

"We use a range of rigorous and robust processes to ensure the tests are appropriate and fair, including reviews by teachers, curriculum and inclusion experts and other education professionals," she said.

There were measures in place to "ensure that each test is of similar difficulty to those in previous years", she added.

"As is the case every year, we will use data from the marked tests and trials to ensure the score needed to meet the expected standard reflects the relative difficulty of the test," Ms Hillier said.

"We will continue to engage with schools, unions and other stakeholders to understand their views on the papers this year, and in regard to all aspects of primary assessment."

Another teaching union, the Association of School and College Leaders, said Sats "cause stress and anxiety for many pupils as well as teachers".

"The current system is too narrow in focus, does not reflect the broad curriculum that teachers and leaders are working to provide, and places too much weight on a single set of results taken in a single week," the ASCL said.

A DfE spokesman said Sats were "an important way of identifying pupils' strengths and where they may have fallen behind as they head to secondary school".

What are Sats?

Standard Assessment Tests, or Sats, are tests that children take in Year 6, at the end of Key Stage 2. They are national curriculum assessments in English grammar, punctuation and spelling, English reading and maths.

The government's Standards and Testing Agency says the purposes of Sats tests are to:

  • help measure pupils' progress
  • identify if they need any extra help in certain areas
  • assess schools' performances
  • produce national performance data.

Children also sit Sats in Year 2, at the end of Key Stage 1.

Additional reporting by Alice Evans.

Are Sats too tough? Please email us:

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

If you are reading this page and can't see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at Please include your name, age and location with any submission.

Related Topics

  • Sats

More on this story

  • Children 'distraught' after Sats reading paper

    • Published

      11 May

  • Sats tests shouldn't be too hard - schools minister

    • Published

      5 days ago

  • Year 6 tests meant to be hard, government says

    • Published

      13 May

  • Children in England ranked fourth globally for reading

    • Published

      5 days ago


What is a good year 6 SATs score? ›

A scaled score of 100 or more means a child is working at the expected standard – termed 'AS', while a score below 100 indicates that a child hasn't reached the government expected standard – termed 'NS'. The maximum score possible is 120, and the minimum is 80.

Is 108 a good SATs score? ›

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').

What is a good KS2 SATs score? ›

The lowest scaled score that can be awarded on a KS2 test is 80. The highest scaled score is 120. Pupils scoring at least a scaled score of 100 will have met the expected standard in the test. A pupil awarded a scaled score of 99 or less has not met the expected standard in the test.

Do parents get Year 6 SATs results? ›

Instead, parents get their children's SATs results soon after their school is made aware of them on Tuesday 4th July 2023. Your child's school will want to first check their entire Year 6 SATs results to ensure that there are no marking or administrative errors.

What is a good SAT score for Harvard? ›

Harvard University's SAT scores for admitted students range from 1480 - 1580, with an average score of 1530. Although SAT scores are optional, we recommend that students aim for a good SAT score of at least 1530 to be competitive in the admissions process at Harvard University.

What is a good SAT score for Ivy League? ›

Ideal SAT Score for Ivy League Colleges

A good average aim should be 75 percentile or an SAT score of 1580 (out of 1600). But the main goal should be to earn scores that exceed the majority of applicants.

What is a mediocre SAT score? ›

A score of 1040 or below is considered below average for SAT test-takers. A score of 890 or below puts you in the bottom quarter of test-takers. This means that if you scored a 1040 or below, you should consider retaking the exam to improve your chances of getting into a good college.

What is 90th percentile sats? ›

The median is the 50th percentile, meaning that half of all test takers got lower scores and half got higher scores. If you get a composite SAT score of 1083 or more, you are above average. The 75th percentile composite SAT test score is 1215, the 90th percentile is 1340, and the 95th percentile is 1410.

What is a scaled score of 75? ›

Scaled Score Example
Raw Score EnglishRaw Score MathScaled Score
32 more rows
Jul 24, 2019

Are older SATs harder? ›

In many ways, the new SAT is much easier than the older version. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't study and be prepared! While the format may be better for some students, the questions are still designed to test your ability and skills in each particular subject.

What is 50th percentile SATs? ›

As you can see from this table, the 50th percentile falls around 1050 out of 1600–the median score. On tests like the SAT, the median score is generally considered to represent an “average”, although it's not the mean score.

Is 3 SATs too much? ›

It does not hurt to take the SAT multiple times. Colleges cannot see how many times you have taken the SAT. However, writing the SAT is a stressful and time-consuming endeavor, so it's important to know how many times are right for you.

Is there science in the year 6 SATs? ›

Year 6 SATs Science papers

However, a small number of Year 6 children are still required to take part in a sampling science test each year.

How many SATs papers do Year 6 take? ›

The Year 6 SATs exams consist of six papers that test children's ability in maths and English ahead of secondary school.

What do year 6 need to know for SATs? ›

SATs Preparation in Year 6
  • Practice Mental Maths.
  • Focus on Problem-Solving.
  • Improve Reading Comprehension.
  • Take Fractions Further.
  • Use SATs Practice Exam Papers. Read Between the Lines.

Is a 4.7 GPA good for Harvard? ›

Average GPA: 4.18

(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA. With a GPA of 4.18, Harvard requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants.

What is the lowest SAT accepted to Harvard? ›

Estimated Chance of Acceptance by SAT Score
SAT Score (1600 scale)CompetitivenessAdmission Chances
1530 to 1580Avg +4%-7%
1480 to 1530Avg -2%-4%
1430 to 1480Reach1%-2%
Less than 1430Low<1%
1 more row

What is the lowest GPA Harvard has accepted? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.

What SAT score do I need for MIT? ›

MIT SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)

There's no absolute SAT requirement at MIT, but they really want to see at least a 1500 to have a chance at being considered.

What is the lowest SAT Ivy League? ›

Generally speaking, you need a minimum ACT score of 31 to get into an Ivy League School. The minimum score is 32 at a few of these schools, including Harvard and Yale. The minimum SAT score to get into an Ivy League school ranges from 690 to 730 for the reading section and from 700 to 730 for the math section.

Is 1450 SAT enough for Ivy League? ›

For the Ivy League, competitive scores range between 1500-1550. For other highly competitive schools, it's above 1400.

Do colleges look at lowest SAT scores? ›

Less selective public institutions, as well as many small liberal arts colleges, regularly accept applicants in the 950-1050 range. Public universities in your state might also accept residents with scores on the lower end of the scale depending on their policies and your other qualifications.

What state has the highest SAT scores? ›

The top spots for the highest average SAT scores are: Wisconsin - 1252.
Total Average Score1252
Points Above/Below National Average202
50 more columns
Nov 2, 2022

Do colleges look at bad SAT scores? ›

Colleges only see your highest composite score from any test date and your highest English, Math, Reading, and Science scores from any test dates.

Can you get into Harvard with a 1300 SAT? ›

Harvard applicants with a combined SAT score of 1300-1400 and an average GPA of 3.5-4.0 have a better chance of being accepted to Harvard University.

How hard is it to get a 1580 on the SAT? ›

A 1580 SAT score puts you in the 99th percentile. This means you outperformed 99% of test takers. In other words, you're in the top 1%.

What is a 70% on the SAT? ›

So, if you get a percentile score of 70, you've scored better than 70 percent of all the other applicants. Talking about the average SAT score of 1060. The test is intentionally designed to ensure the average score floats around 1000. The average math score is 528, and the average score for EBRW is 533.

What is the lowest scaled score? ›

Scaled Scores have a score range of 0 – 19 points, with an average score of 10 points. These scores are typically used for “Sub-tests,” which are smaller components of a larger psychological test, such as the WISC-V, the NEPSY-2, or the DKEFs.

What is the T score of 60 equivalent to? ›

T-scores have a mean of 50 and standard deviation of 10. Thus, a student with a T-score of 60 is one standard deviation above the mean.

What is the T score of 60? ›

T-scores are standardized scores on each dimension for each type. A score of 50 represents the mean. A difference of 10 from the mean indicates a difference of one standard deviation. Thus, a score of 60 is one standard deviation above the mean, while a score of 30 is two standard deviations below the mean.

What are the hardest section in SATs? ›

By far the most difficult portion, the Math section of the SAT is where you should put most of your attention to studying. Given the advanced math section you may not be prepared for in high school, be sure to spend as much time as you can learning and practicing questions.

Which months have the easiest SATs? ›

As with all college prep, the earlier the better! Try to take the SAT in August, October, or November. These three test dates should have little trouble getting your scores to colleges in time, assuming your earliest deadline is somewhere around January 1.

Which SAT is usually the hardest? ›

In online forums, students also tend to identify Test #3 as the hardest of the official practice tests, so there truly seems to be a clear consensus. It's important to remember though that a hard practice test can actually be a great resource!

Why is there no 100th percentile? ›

To put it in words, being in the 100 percentile would mean that 100% of the group has marks below yours. But since 100% of the group would include you, and your mark could never be below your mark, then 100% of the group could not be below you. Therefore you could never be in the 100 percentile.

What is 99th percentile on the SAT? ›

While many high achievers strive to reach a 1600, in reality any score above a 1500 typically falls within the 99th or 98th percentile. This means that if you've scored a 1500 on the SAT, it may not be in your best interest to retake the test when you could work on other parts of your application.

What is 99th percentile? ›

The 99th percentile is the highest percentile you can get. It means that you are one of the top scorers since you scored higher than 99% of students who took the test.

Do colleges care how many SATS you take? ›

Yes, colleges can see how frequently you take the test if they want to, but Colleges won't turn up their noses if you've taken the exam two or more. What colleges care about are the top scores that they see. This shows that you're serious about your studies and are willing to put in your studies' time and effort.

Does Harvard require all SAT scores? ›

When you apply for admission, you can choose whether or not our review of your application will include your standardized test scores (SAT and ACT). If your scores already are on file before you apply and you choose at the time of your application to proceed without scores, we will not consider those scores.

Can schools see how many times you took the SAT? ›

Can colleges see if a student takes the SAT more than once? The short answer is no—nothing automatically shows colleges how often a student took the SAT. Most colleges let students who take the SAT multiple times select which of their test scores, by date, they send to colleges.

Is algebra in year 6 SATs? ›

However, we will not see equations until year 6, where algebra is properly introduced. In year 6, children will be required to work out the answer to simple equations like the examples used above and may be expected to complete harder variations of these using multiplication.

Will SATs matter in 2024? ›

At The College Curators, we recommend that high school students in the class of 2024 still consider taking the ACT or SAT, but whether or not they submit their scores should depend on test availability and personal performance.

What to do with year 6 after SATs? ›

Fun Activities For Year 6 And After SATs Year 6 Mini Project...
  • Create Your Own Zoo.
  • Plan An End Of Year Production.
  • Pin it!
  • Budget A Theme Park.
  • Human Bar Charts.
  • Emile.
  • Secondary School Transition.
  • More Emile Blogs.

Have the SATs become easier? ›

To sum it all up: the digital SAT is not designed to be easier than the pencil-and-paper SAT. However, some of the changes to the digital SAT may make accessing the exam, taking the exam, and receiving scores easier for students. But adjusting to the new digital SAT might mean you have to work harder, too.

Are SATs hard to pass? ›

How Hard Is the SAT? Unlike what some will say, the SAT is no easier or harder than the ACT. It just depends on your subject skills and your learning style. Most of the content covered on the exam is from 9th and 10th grade, with some added advanced concepts from junior year.

How long is a Year 6 reading SAT? ›

It takes 60 minutes, including reading time, with a total of 50 marks available. The questions are designed to assess your child's comprehension, and are linked closely to the national curriculum. Your child will be given three texts to read, with a set of questions to answer about each.

What is the highest score in SATs Year 6? ›

The highest scaled score is 120. Pupils scoring at least a scaled score of 100 will have met the expected standard in the test. A pupil awarded a scaled score of 99 or less has not met the expected standard in the test. Pupils need a minimum raw score before they can be awarded the lowest scaled score.

How are year 6 SATs marked? ›

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.

How many maths papers are there for year 6 SATs? ›

There are three maths papers on the Year 6 SATs. All three are paper tests.

Is 109 in the year 6 SATs good? ›

Your child has performed extremely well, especially in reading and SPAG, where the top score is 120. 100 is the bench mark and 110 or higher is above average (working at greater depth).

What should year 6 SATs reading speed be? ›

A reading speed of at least 110 words per minute (wpm) in Year 6 will give children a strong chance of being able to read the texts and answer all of the questions about them in the hour they are given to complete a reading SAT. There are lots of things that children can do to help them improve their reading speeds.

Is a SATs score of 110 good? ›

A scaled score of 100 means that a child has met the national expectation. A scaled score of 110 or above is classed as working at a higher standard.

What is a SATs score of 800? ›

An 800 SAT is considered a percentile 8, which means that you only did better than 8% of all other test takers. However, there are a handful of colleges where a score of 800 is eligible for admission but the majority would ideally want to see a higher score, at least on par with the national average.

What is 95th percentile SAT reading? ›

The 75th percentile composite SAT test score is 1215, the 90th percentile is 1340, and the 95th percentile is 1410.
Understanding Your SAT Score.
Composite Score (Out of 1600)Percentile Rank
23 more rows

What is 1072 SAT score? ›

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1072, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1270. In other words, a 1072 places you below average, while a 1270 will move you up to above average.

What is a bad SAT reading score? ›

A score of 1040 or below is considered below average for SAT test-takers. A score of 890 or below puts you in the bottom quarter of test-takers. This means that if you scored a 1040 or below, you should consider retaking the exam to improve your chances of getting into a good college.

How fast can a 6th grader read? ›

For kids in grades 1 to 6, their average reading speed falls between 80 words and 185 words per minute. Teens in grades 7 through 12 can read between 115 words per minute and 185 words per minute.

How many words should Year 6 read per minute? ›

A reading speed of at least 110 words per minute (wpm) in Year 6 will give children a strong chance of being able to read the texts and answer all of the questions about them in the hour they are given to complete a reading SAT. There are lots of things that children can do to help them improve their reading speeds.

What reading level is expected for age 6? ›

Level 6. Recommended reading age 5 - 6 years. Children are starting to read longer and more complex sentences and can understand a range of punctuation. Usually about 20 pages with 4 or 5 sentences per page.

Is 1018 a good SAT score? ›

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1018, and the 75th percentile SAT score is 1223. In other words, a 1018 places you below average, while a 1223 will move you up to above average.

What is a respectable SAT score? ›

The average SAT composite score is 1051, with the average score for math being 523 and EBRW being 528. A score above 1040 is above-average, and a score above 1200 puts you in the 75th percentile (the top 25% of test-takers).

What is a genius SAT score? ›

Excellent SAT Score: 1350+ (90%+ higher than all test-takers.)

How rare is a 1200 on the SAT? ›

Earning a 1200 SAT score puts you at the 74th percentile, meaning that you scored higher than 74% of test takers.

Is 1347 a good SAT score? ›

Under Numerical Class Grade, 88.7 means that this SAT score is like getting a class score of 88.7% (or round to 89%) at the end of the year.
Conversion of New SAT Scores to Class Grade Equivalents.
New SAT ScoreNumerical Class GradeLetter Class Grade
150 more rows
Aug 13, 2018

Is 1273 a good SAT score? ›

While there's no standard for a "good" SAT score, it's best to aim for at least 1200.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Twana Towne Ret

Last Updated: 30/11/2023

Views: 6298

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Twana Towne Ret

Birthday: 1994-03-19

Address: Apt. 990 97439 Corwin Motorway, Port Eliseoburgh, NM 99144-2618

Phone: +5958753152963

Job: National Specialist

Hobby: Kayaking, Photography, Skydiving, Embroidery, Leather crafting, Orienteering, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Twana Towne Ret, I am a famous, talented, joyous, perfect, powerful, inquisitive, lovely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.