The SATs exam period can be one of the most stressful times for a primary school child. They often feel pressured and don't want to let down their parents, teachers and everyone around them constantly talking about their SATs. It's important that you and your child understand the relative significance of these exams and have a realistic understanding about how to prepare for them.
First of all it's important to consider what SATs tests are devised to show. The principle idea of SATs is to show what pupils have learnt and retained during their KS2 education. The tests help teachers learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of what each child understands in English, Maths and Science.
In other words, the tests should not generally be considered something a child is required to prepare for. Indeed, the perfect scenario for the tests would be for no children at all to have prepared!
Secondly, it's important to remember that until 2018, a child cannot "fail" a SATs test. There is no "pass mark", it's simply trying to measure how much each child has learned throughout Key Stage 2. The result is then presented as a simple "Level".
So why bother preparing? Well a child's SATs results can have some important consequences. Firstly, they "carry" their mark into secondary school and this can determine which set they're placed in. So for example, a stronger performance at their KS2 SATs could lead to them being in a more capable Maths set in secondary school.
On a broader level, it can't be underestimated just how important it is for a child to have a positive experience from their first set of "real" exams. Those of us who are lucky enough to have had the feeling of knowing all the answers in an exam can testify to the positive effect it has on you. Children sitting their KS2 SATs in May will, only a few years later, sit their GCSEs, A-Levels and probably their University exams. They need to see exams as an opportunity to positively demonstrate just how much they know and understand.
We know they're young and we know that SATs don't really matter in the grand scheme of their education. However, simply telling them to bury their head in the sand because SATs "don't matter" does not set the best example and it's certainly not what they should do in their future!
So how should they prepare? How can you help them achieve their best possible result from KS2 SATs? Practice, practice, practice!
Ask your child's teacher whether they have any particular weaknesses and tell them that whilst you understand the relative unimportance of SATs in your child's life, you want to support them and you want them to have a positive exam experience. Their teacher should be able to tell you what your child needs to work on. Make sure you probe them for exactly what's troublesome, sometimes it can be surprising! Make a list and plan with your child what you're going to do. They may initially resist but with some experienced parental know-how and a thorough understanding of your child we're confident you could build some motivation within them!
Their teacher may well plan a series of mock exams for them to take in school (most likely the previous year's SATs papers) so it's important that you make sure not to cross papers and skew their teacher's predictions.
Throughout the exam period (it's normally over the course of a week) ensure they're eating and drinking well, taking regular breaks from study and maintaining a positive attitude. If they don't feel one of the exams went well, try to get them to focus on the next exam. It's important that they maintain motivation and continue to try their best. Again, we want them to have a positive experience!
Good luck in May!
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