What Do I Need to Know About Exams During Key Stage 1?

What Do I Need to Know About Exams During Key Stage 1?

Phonics Screening Test

The phonics screening test is taken at the end of year 1, and can be re-taken in year 2 if need be. The test is used to demonstrate the phonetic skills your child has learned so far and identify those pupils that need extra help going into year 2. Consisting of 40 words and non-words split into simple word structures and complex word structures, your child will need to show that they are using the rules of phonetics to read the words with the correct sounds. Usually lasting less than 10 minutes, a teacher will sit one on one with your child to complete the task, and a few practise words will be used beforehand to help your child understand what is required of them.


Taking place throughout May at the end of year 2, SATs are used to assess your child on reading, writing (including spelling and handwriting), maths and science. Your child’s teacher will decide which tests and tasks your child should take in order to assess their ability and these will simply be used to demonstrate the progress your child is making. Most tasks will take place as part of normal classroom work so your child may not even be aware that they are being assessed, and a 10 minute introduction will always be given to make sure your child understands the task and can ask questions.

Why do we have tests/tasks at Key Stage 1?

Although your child will take their first national curriculum tests at the end of key stage 1, these are simply a means of assessing your child’s progress and cannot be ‘passed’ or ‘failed’. Your child’s teacher will continually monitor and assess their progress throughout years 1 and 2 and the tests will be used to support this assessment and to help plan areas to work on in the future. Although the tests are compulsory for all state schools, results are not published for key stage 1.

How will I know how my child is progressing?

Once your child’s teacher has marked the tests, they will combine the results with their overall assessment of your child to create a report indicating what level your child is performing at in speaking, listening, reading, writing, maths and science. Most children reach level 2 or occasionally level 3 by the end of Key Stage 1, although children learn at different paces and you shouldn’t be disappointed by a lower score. The report will contain a summary of teacher assessment results for all children in the same age group as well as the previous year’s national results so that you can view your child’s results in context. The main result will be whether your child falls within, below or above the national standard, and your child should benefit from further support in the future if they are performing at a level below average for their age.

Visit our Educational Books page for further support for you and your child during Key Stage 1.

Key Stage 1 Further Reading: What Will my Child Learn at Key Stage 1
How Might my Child Change During Key Stage 1 How Can I Help my Child During Key Stage 1