The Top 20 Year 6 Maths Revision Topics To Help Your Pupils Meet Age-Related Expectations and Achieve 100 in SATs [2024 UPDATE]

Year 6 maths revision for KS2 SATs starts at different points of the year for different schools — as SLT, Maths Lead, or a Year 6 teacher, you’ll need to decide when this is best for your pupils. And as there’s never enough time for revision, you’ll want to ensure you’re using the lessons you have most effectively by prioritising the topics that accumulate the highest number of marks. 

Knowing where to start with SATs 2024 revision so all those pupils who can, achieve, the golden 100 standardised score is no easy task.

Every January, we face the same challenge — which maths topics do we prioritise for SATs revision? Schools across the country sign thousands of pupils up to the Third Space Learning SATs Revision Programme, and we need to ensure that every single school sees maximum pupil progress. This is why we also need to make sure we prioritise the topics that will have the biggest impact on each pupil’s SATs scores. 

Quote from headteacher about Third Space Learning's SATs programme

So, as soon as the KS2 SATs maths papers are released in May each year, our academic team get to work analysing the question types, content domains and marks available from each paper, and adding these to the database of information they have already built up from previous years. 

They combine this with the correct and incorrect answers to SATs questions that thousands of pupils have given us during their one to one tutoring sessions over the past 10 years, as well as their own years of experience in how children learn maths to create a hit list of the top 20 topics that “matter most” for the next year’s Year 6 maths revision

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We’ve used the data from 6 years of SATs papers, 100,000 pupils following 25+ SATs lessons, plus feedback from teachers, pupils and tutors to create a well-oiled sequence of SATs lessons to help you achieve a good set of SATs results in 2024. Not only that, but they’re already in priority order to give you and your pupils the best chance of achieving 100 in SATs 2024.

And we’ve made the analysis freely available to you to help you inform your SATs 2024 revision.

Sneak peek: your top 5 SATs revision lessons

Before we shed some light on the thinking, planning and analysis behind the recommended maths revision in Year 6, let’s give you what you came here for; the top 5 highest impact topics. 

These are the topics that came up most frequently in the reasoning papers between 2016-2019 and 2022-2023. They are not only worth the highest number of marks but also conceptually make the most sense to prioritise. As such, these are the highest priority lessons in our one to one SATs revision programme:

  1. Addition and Subtraction
  2. Money
  3. Multiplication and Division
  4. Multiples, Factors and Prime Numbers
  5. Place Value

Looking for the full list of high-impact revision topics? Keep reading to discover the other 15 topics worth including in your SATs revision programme. 

Find out how these topics inform our one-to-one tutoring sessions in the lead-up to the KS2 assessments and should help shape your revision programme and SATs preparation too.

Balancing arithmetic and reasoning

Throughout SATs week, there are three opportunities for pupils to accrue a standardised score of 100 or more to meet age-related expectations in maths: Paper 1 Arithmetic, Paper 2 Reasoning, and Paper 3 Reasoning.

Arithmetic rarely throws up any surprises during SATs with the usual suspects  — four operations, fractions, decimals and percentages — appearing year after year.  But prepping for the maths reasoning papers can feel like a bit of a mystery. 

To help demystify year 6 maths revision for the reasoning papers, Third Space Learning’s academic team’s analysis has focused primarily on the past six sets of KS2 maths reasoning papers and our one-to-one maths tutoring sessions. Since 2016, we’ve analysed SATs past papers to see which reasoning topics came up most frequently, which are worth the most marks and which of our lessons pupils found the most challenging.

6 years of SATs data, 1,900,000 maths lessons and 101 practice SATs questions

You may be thinking, I know what my school’s previous Year 6 pupils found difficult, what will I gain from this analysis? However, your cohort is likely to be made up of 30, 60, maybe 90 pupils at most. 

Thanks to our one-to-one SATs revision programme, we’re fortunate enough to have recorded and analysed more than 1,900,000 maths lessons from over 150,000 pupils.

Meaning, we have been able to overlay the 2016-2023 SATs analysis with our own internal data that looks in-depth at how pupils work through our SATs lessons, in particular how they answer the SATs questions around which the lessons are based.

So once we’ve identified the ‘top topics’ we are then able to create a recommended order for your Year 6 maths SATs revision programme. 

But let’s start with the SATs papers from 2016-2023.

Note: for this blog, where there are multiple year groups and content domains awarded to a question, we have analysed the data based on the first year group or content domain attributed to the mark.

Question level analysis of the SATs papers 2016-2023

What did we take into consideration?

  • KS2 SATs questions by year group
  • KS2 SATs questions by topics
  • KS2 SATS questions by marks per lesson

And what did we find?

KS2 SATs questions by year group

Since 2016, Year 1 and Year 2 content has not appeared in the Year 6 SATs papers and quite rightly so. These papers are to test knowledge from KS2. 

And while the majority of questions were focused on Year 6 content in 2019, the percentage dropped considerably in 2022 and remained lower in 2023. A growing trend since 2019 has seen a greater percentage of marks awarded to Year 4 and 5 content

Through this analysis, it’s clear to see that it is worthwhile focusing largely on Year 4 to Year 6 content questions during SATs revision.

KS2 SATs questions by content domain

Now, let’s see how the questions break down not just by year group, but by content domain.

What can we learn from this content domain coverage table?

Looking at the content domain coverage table provided by the DfE is relatively complex and hard to digest. 

So we have broken the information down to demonstrate the percentage of questions by strand (overarching groups for the smaller content domains) for the 2016-2023 reasoning papers more clearly.  

And to help provide a better insight as to how we have created our own KS2 maths revision lessons based on the strands.

30 lessons derived from the strands

Using each of the larger strands as a separate revision lesson is not a good use of time with such little and precious time until SATs. Instead, grouping them into lessons that complement each other is far more beneficial to you and your pupils. 

Following our analysis of SATs questions by year group, we grouped the most frequently occurring reasoning strands into 30 sensible topic-based lessons. 

Some of the smaller strands from the content domains could be grouped into one lesson and some of the larger strands from content domains, such as fractions, decimals and percentages, were broken down into smaller more manageable lessons for pupils. 

For example, our analysis revealed that fractions, decimals and percentages have consistently been allocated a high number of marks across all SATs papers from 2016-2023. 

Further analysis of the programme highlighted the need for a new lesson covering ‘data’. Data is a broad topic and was low down the priority on the current list. This also provides additional exposure to this topic, releasing cognitive load when faced with questions based on this strand, and helping them to feel more confident in their strategies.

KS2 SATS questions by marks per Third Space Learning revision lesson

After looking at questions by year group, and questions by content domain, we then looked through every one of the 18 papers over the past 6 years and investigated how many marks were attributed to each of our own SATs revision lessons so we could see exactly where our SATs programme needed updating.

Total marks for reasoning per Third Space Learning SATs revision lesson from 2016-2023

It’s clear to see that the four operations, decimal calculations and fractions, and decimals and percentages are awarded the highest number of marks year after year. 

And topics such as 3D shapes, volume and area, and perimeter are awarded fewer marks. 

Now you have a clearer idea of which topics were most tested each year, most likely to come up, and how many marks they were worth, we can look at what this analysis means for the order of SATs topics to cover during revision. 

The top 20 lessons to maximise KS2 maths SATs revision for your pupils

Finally, after completing the multi-layered data analysis, there was a clear list of the content domains that cropped up most frequently and accumulated the highest number of marks.  

Here are the topic strands that have been awarded the most marks for KS2 maths SATs and are highly important to cover during revision.

The raw mark totals for each strand per year and their total from 2016 to 2019 and 2022-2023.

Calculations, which cover the ‘Four Operations’ (Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division) content, have the highest percentage of questions and most marks allocated from 2016-2019 and 2022-2023. 

‘Fractions, Decimals and Percentages’, ‘Number and Place Value’  and ‘Measurement’ can also be seen as of high importance to cover. By contrast, ‘Position and Direction’ appear least important, having the least marks allocated to it and the lowest frequency of appearance.

Everyone’s SATs revision timetables will look different. Here at Third Space Learning, pupils enrolled on our SATs revision programme, available during the spring term, will partake in a weekly session spanning approximately 15 weeks. Schools will then typically start early intervention for their Year 5 pupils in the summer term. 

Therefore, for our revised SATs revision programme we are looking at the top 20 lessons taught within the SATs revision phase of the programme — considering an extra 5 lessons for those pupils that may progress at a faster rate. 

Note, that this recommended order takes into account not only the most ‘important’ lessons but also considers a coherent order for addressing individual concepts.

List of top 20 revision lessons for maths SATS 2024

For pupils completing the SATs revision programme more than once a week (many schools like to double up on sessions during the spring term), we have an extended list of 30 lessons available, again all in priority order. 

List of 21-30 revision lessons from the list of the top 30

If your revision starts earlier or later than January, or the frequency of your revision lessons is different to ours, you’ll need to adapt these recommendations accordingly.  

Some lower-scoring lessons are higher up the priority list than you may expect, such as ‘Reasoning with Time’, but it is conceptually important to have it there. Considering content coverage, topics and marks independently would not provide a sufficient picture, they must all be taken into consideration to create a truly comprehensive KS2 revision programme. 

Please note, that this order of topics assumes a degree of equality in previous learning, which won’t be the case for many cohorts due to individual knowledge gaps. You should adapt this recommended order for your pupils.

Personalisation is built into our SAT revision programme through diagnostic assessment, helping to diagnose the specific SATs gaps in the learning of target Year 6 pupils. Each pupil’s Third Space Learning revision programme will focus on the highest impact topics in which that pupil demonstrates gaps.

How to structure your SATs revision lessons to help pupils gain more marks

Now you know which topics to target, and what order to teach them in. But how do you actually go about tackling these in revision lessons?

Despite our SATs revision programme focusing on reasoning, fluency is an undeniably crucial aspect to succeeding in maths. That’s why we start every session with a fluency question.  

Starting with a fluency question encourages pupils to practise the arithmetic skills required for Paper 1 by identifying and using efficient mental strategies to solve equations. This focuses on building boosting your pupils’ confidence and stamina in maths.

This is followed by three sets of different reasoning questions, helping pupils practise reasoning while developing the habit of showing all of their working out and methodology.

When considering your own SATs revision lessons, you may find that your pupils require more than a fluency starter. This can be addressed with discrete fluency lessons.

Our extensive analysis has highlighted the following fluency lessons as most important for effective SATs revision:

  • Fluency with Addition and Subtraction 
  • Fluency with Multiplication and Division 
  • Fluency with Calculating and Fractions 
  • Fluency with Decimal Calculations
  • Fluency with Inverse Operations 
  • Fluency with Percentages

In the next iteration of our SATs programme, we’ll be looking at including additional opportunities for specific fluency practice – in the form of dedicated fluency lessons – for those pupils who need it.

Want to learn more about structuring SATs revision lessons?

See also: A Tried And Tested Lesson Structure For Year 6 SATs Revision

How to incorporate formative assessment throughout your SATs revision programme

Of course, you know that planning an outstanding sequence of lessons isn’t where teaching stops. On paper, your lessons may be the best lessons to ever exist — but if pupils aren’t learning or retaining the information all of your precious planning time has been wasted. 

Remember to include assessment for learning opportunities throughout each revision lesson as some topics and concepts may need repetition. Whether it’s questioning, independent tasks, or using a variety of methods, it’s key to assess reasoning revision regularly. 

Both initial and ongoing diagnostic assessment identifies pupils’ individual learning gaps and helps prioritise topic order throughout our one-to-one tutoring programmes. 

Additionally, our low-stakes post-session questions assess pupils’ knowledge after each lesson and help inform tutors and schools of pupil progress for each individual. For our 2024 programme, we have revised at least 80% of our 232 post-session questions. 

For every pedagogical change we make, we train our tutors on the new concepts, strategies and support slides. If you’re lucky enough to have a TA for your class, it’s worth factoring in time to ensure they are up-to-date on the latest concepts, strategies and slides you’re using throughout your Year 6 SATs revision planning and lessons. 

What else should you consider when creating your KS2 revision programme?

Of course, even after reading our data analysis and revision programme suggestions, it’s still important to take your current Year 6 cohort into consideration when completing your own SATs revision programme. Every cohort is slightly different and any suggestions should be adapted to meet their needs. 

When starting the KS2 SATs revision programme, our goal was to end up with the highest quality lessons in the most effective order of SATs revision topics for a coherent topic order and breadth of coverage

We encourage you to do the same whether pupils are participating in our 15-week SATs revision programme or a longer SATs-focused programme. Every lesson counts. And it’s one of the reasons we’re able to achieve an average of double expected progress over a 14-15 week period.

After assessing the maths reasoning paper analysis and the ultimate list of high-impact topics, it’s worth considering whether any topics are missing in your current revision plan — if you already have one. If not, now would be a great time to make note of the lessons that will be most beneficial to your cohort come revision time. 

Careful analysis of past maths SATs papers and our KS2 SATs revision programme meant we ended up adding a brand new lesson to our sequence for 2024  — ’Reasoning with Data and Averages’. This means that pupils will now have more exposure to important topics with a high number of marks allocated to them.

Again, if you already have a KS2 revision programme, it’s essential to check whether any of the existing lessons need updating or changing entirely. 

2023 to 2024 SATs lesson update and 2023 SATs question comparison

Many teachers will likely understand the wonderful feeling of planning a fantastic lesson only to quickly realise there’s too much or too little content for pupils. Through assessing lessons sat by thousands of Year 6 pupils, we realised that perhaps we’d been slightly too ambitious with the amount we thought pupils could get through in some of our lessons. While others needed a wider range of questions. 

We amended 5 of our current SATs revision lessons to ensure the topic coverage married the SATs papers as closely as possible.

Comparison of KS2 SATs question and Third Space Learning SATs revision programme question

There you have it; an evidence-based priority list of SATs topics to use in your classroom. You can find hundreds of resources in the Third Space Maths Hub to help with your SATs revision lessons. 

Interested in extra SATs revision support for your target pupils without adding to staff workload? Request a quote!

Further reading:
Third Space Learning Upsell Section


Every week Third Space Learning’s specialist primary maths tutors support thousands of students across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1 to 1 maths lessons designed to plug gaps and boost progress.


Since 2013 these personalised one to one lessons have helped over 150,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians.


Learn about the SATs revision programme or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.


FREE KS2 Maths SATs Practice Papers (Set of 6)

Get ready for KS2 SATs tests with this set of 6 maths SATs practice papers.

Includes 2 Arithmetic and 4 Reasoning Papers, with mark schemes and answer booklets, that follow the National Curriculum Assessments.

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