Discover the most effective way to prepare pupils for KS2 Maths Assessments (SATs)

By Candida Crawford 

Check out our latest blog post on the upcoming SATs: What we've learnt for 2017 from preparing 10,000 Year 6 pupils to revise for their KS2 SATs

Like you, we’ve been preparing hard for the National Assessments, commonly referred to as SATs. The curriculum’s changed, the questions will be tougher, and there’s a new arithmetic paper. As a provider of a primary Maths intervention our role is to support pupils on their Maths journey from Year 1 to Year 6 so it’s been essential for us to find a method that will continue to provide the best possible experience for our schools.

Evidence-based research

When we looked at all the evidence these are the common ingredients in improving learning in preparation for tests:

1) Practice testing

2) Interleaved practice

3) Elaborative interrogation

4) Self-explanation

5) Distributed practice

Revision lessons

We knew that our existing series of 240 lessons work well plugging gaps even in the run-up to tests, but we also felt we could do better and create something even more specific for Year 6 during this crucial period. So we crunched a lot of data, looked at how we could integrate the 5 best practice techniques, and performed a massive overhaul of many of our one-to-one tuition resources. The result is a series of 13 revision lessons for the National Tests which we think go a very long way to answering pupils’ needs at this time. 

Interleaved practice

The revision lessons cover the 9 main areas in Maths and are closely matched to the performance descriptors of Key Stage 2. As pupils move through the revision lessons, they are interleaving (mixing) practice as they experience a variety of skills from these 9 areas. Interleaving is beneficial in cognitive tasks, especially maths problems, with benefits of up to 43% being reported.

As we know, the National Assessment covers a range of questions from all areas and the more exposure and confidence a child gains in switching between different types of tasks, the better.

Practice testing

Each revision lesson begins with an arithmetic starter to improve children’s fluency for the arithmetic paper. This is followed by some slides recapping the main concepts in an area and then leads into a range of related National Assessment questions. We have differentiated these lessons into three levels (Fundamental, Standard, Extension) to closely match the Zone of Proximal Development of that specific child.

Practising a range of questions and giving guidance when needed is the number one technique for improving progress for tests and is the main focus of these revision lessons.

Elaborative interrogation and self-explanation

Elaborative interrogation involves creating explanations for why statements are true and self-explanation entails the justification and recording of how one solves and understands problems. Both of these skills are integrally part of the one-to-one support our specialised tutors offer and most of our pupils make significant progress in their verbal reasoning.

Distributed practice

Finally, cramming before a test can increase anxiety and is not conducive to deeper learning. Our programme focuses rather on distributed practice as it follows a 14 week programme which mitigates these negative effects of cramming and develops fluency and confidence.

In addition to these tailored revision packs, we have created a strategy opening lesson which helps students with how to approach National Test questions. Equipping children with a variety of strategies strengthens a growth mindset and goes a long way in preparing children for these tests but also their life long learning.

Revision pack topics

These are the topics from the primary Maths national curriculum topics available as Year 6 revision packs.

  • Number and Place Value
  • Addition and Subtraction
  • Multiplication and Division
  • Fractions - equivalent, adding/subtracting, improper and mixed
  • Fractions, Decimals and Percentages
  • Ratio and Proportion
  • Algebra
  • Measurement - metric units, area, perimeter
  • Measurement - time and roman numerals
  • Geometry - properties of shapes
  • Geometry - position and movement
  • Statistics

All Third Space Learning users can select these Revision Packs from our Curriculum of 240 differentiated lessons available for our tutors to teach. We strongly recommend that, where possible, all Year 6 pupils follow this Primary Revision Programme during the 14 week SATs programme from January to the National Tests in May.

If your pupils are not already receiving one-to-one online Maths tuition from Third Space Learning, click here to download your own free Maths SATS Revision Pack.

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