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Year 6 SATs English exam: what to expect

By Atom | Sep 14, 2023, 2:15 PM

Schoolgirl in white polo top chewing the end of a green pencil while looking at exam sheets on a desk in front of her. In the background, a teacher is walking up the aisle between students' desks.

Is your child in Year 6? They'll be taking their Key Stage 2 SATs English exam in May 2024. Learn what they'll be tested on and get free resources to help your child prepare.

What is the Year 6 SATs English exam?

The Key Stage 2 Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) are compulsory for all Year 6 students at state schools in England. They're used to assess your child’s knowledge of the Key Stage 2 national curriculum and gauge the quality of education across England’s schools.

When is the 2024 SATs English exam?

There are three Year 6 SATs English tests. These take place over two days.

Monday 13th May 2024

  • Paper 1: SPaG test (grammar and punctuation) – 45 minutes, worth 50 marks

  • Paper 2: SPaG test (spelling) – 15-20 minutes, worth 20 marks

Tuesday 14th May 2024

  • Paper 3: reading test – 60 minutes, worth 50 marks

What format are the KS2 SATs English papers?

Grammar and punctuation

The first English paper in the KS2 SATs is the grammar and punctuation test. In 2024, this takes place on Monday 13th May. Children have a total of 45 minutes to answer the questions, with 50 marks available.

This paper is linked closely to the national curriculum. Your child will be assessed on their understanding of concepts including:

  • suffixes

  • conjunctions

  • parts of a sentence

  • parts of speech

  • tenses

  • types of punctuation

A grammar question on a Year 6 SATs English mock test on Atom

Example of a question in a Year 6 SATs English grammar and punctuation practice test on Atom

There are two main question formats on the grammar and punctuation paper. Your child should read the instructions carefully so they know which type of answer to provide.

  • Multiple choice: These questions are followed by a selection of potential answers and your child must choose the right one. E.g. Identify the verbs in the sentence below.

  • Short written answers: These questions are followed by a line or a box, showing that a word, a few words or a sentence is needed. E.g: The sentence below is grammatically incorrect. Rewrite it correctly. or The sentence below has a comma missing. Explain why it needs a comma.

The best strategy for this paper is for students to work as quickly and carefully as they can. If they finish before the end, they should go back and check their work.


Punctuation & grammar questions

This pack of 20 questions will help your child practise the topics they will encounter on the Year 6 SATs. There is an answer pack with helpful explanations for you to review together.

Download now
Punctuation and grammar question pack


The Key Stage 2 SATs spelling test takes place on the same day as the grammar and punctuation paper. Your child will have a spelling test one-on-one with a teacher or classroom assistant.

This is an aural test where a total of 20 words are read out loud to your child over the course of 15–20 minutes. Your child will have to write down the correct spelling for each word. 20 marks are available (one mark per word spelled correctly).

Year 6 SATs English

Key Stage 2 spelling list

Practising the words on this list will stand your child in good stead for the Year 6 SATs spelling test.

Year 6 SATs English

Spelling, punctuation & grammar guide

For more information and resources, take a look at the full Key Stage 2 SPaG guide.


The 2024 Key Stage 2 SATs reading paper takes place on Tuesday 14th May. It takes 60 minutes, including reading time, with a total of 50 marks available. Questions are linked to the national curriculum and assess your child's reading comprehension ability.

Your child will have three texts to read, with a set of questions to answer about each. Children must use the information in the texts to answer the questions. Some questions will include a page reference so your child knows which page of text contains the answer they are looking for.

The three texts are each likely to be in different genres. Children should read one text and answer the questions about it, before moving on to read the next text.

A question in a Year 6 SATs English reading mock test on Atom

Example of a question in a Year 6 SATs English reading practice test on Atom

The Year 6 SATs reading paper includes several different question types. The space for the answer shows what type of answer is needed. Children should read the instructions carefully so they know how to answer the question. Answer formats include:

  • Short answers: some questions are followed by a short line or box. This shows that only a word or a few words are needed for the answer

  • Find and copy: e.g. “Find and copy one word that suggests what the weather is like in the story"

  • Labelling: children will have to label the text to show certain elements such as the title

  • Several line answers: some questions are followed by a few lines. This gives children space to write more words or a sentence or two

  • Longer answers: some questions are followed by more answer lines. This shows that a longer, more detailed answer is needed. Children should write in full sentences and refer to the text in their answer

  • Selected answers: children will not need to write anything – instead, they should choose the correct option from a list of choices

  • Ranking/ordering: children will need to number the events to show the order in which they happen in the text

How is the Year 6 SATs English exam marked?

There are 120 marks available across the three English papers. Your child’s raw score (out of 120) will be converted into a scaled score. This makes sure all pupils in the year group are tested on a consistent scale. The scaled score is adjusted for any differences in the difficulty of the test year on year.

Learn more about how the SATs are marked.

How to prepare for the Year 6 SATs English exam

Free parent webinar

Supporting your child with English

Build the knowledge you need for SATs

The most reliable way to perform well in the SATs is to build a stable understanding of the Key Stage 2 curriculum. Atom is a home learning programme created by teachers, designed to help your child build knowledge and confidence across English, maths and science.

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  • 70,000+ interactive questions

  • Year 6 SATs English and maths practice tests

  • Helpsheets and tutorial videos

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Answer practice questions, earn coins! Have fun while mastering Key Stage 2 English and maths.

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We're here to answer any questions you have about the Year 6 SATs tests in 2024. To discuss your child’s progress with a SATs expert, get in touch.

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