It’s April and you know what that means? Yes, that’s right, SATs exams are now just over a month away. At Whizz Education we know that the spectre of SATs can be just as daunting for parents as it can be for their children, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you and your child follow our five top tips on how to prepare for the maths SATs exam at home, we’re confident that they will be ready and raring to go when the big day arrives.
1. Identify Your Child’s Weaknesses
One of the first things you should do when preparing for the SATs maths exam at home is to figure out which topics your child is struggling with. There are a couple of ways to do this. You could ask your child’s teacher, as they regularly work with your them, or you could get your child to complete an online assessment, like the one offered in our free trial of Maths-Whizz. Online assessments are particularly effective because they’re quick to pinpoint the specific gaps in your child’s knowledge and are not subject to human biases. Once you have established your child’s weak points, you will know which topics need to be prioritised when your child is studying.
2. Create a Timetable
Once you’ve established which topics your child needs to work on, it’s time to figure out when and how long they’re going to study each topic for. Routine is the foundation for building good habits, so with that in mind, we recommend drawing up a simple timetable. It’s worth varying the amount of time spent studying each individual topic based on your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Your child may study their weak topic (e.g. fractions) for an hour on Wednesday and Thursday and their strong topic (e.g. place value) for 30 minutes on a Tuesday and Friday. Of course, don’t limit this timetable to just maths, you should allocate time for English and science study too.
3. Download Past Papers
It’s a cliche, but the old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ always rings true when it comes to exam study. We believe completing past papers is one of the best ways to get some SATs maths practice under your child’s belt. Not only will it help them become aware of the kind of questions they will encounter but it should also help reduce anxiety because the actual exam paper will no longer be an unknown quantity. To save you time trying to find SATs maths tests online here are some websites we believe you should check out. If you’re searching for KS2 papers, check out SATs Test Online, which has every KS2 maths SATs paper since 2003, including the audio for the mental sections. If you need KS1 papers check out Satspapers.org.uk, which has selected papers from between 2001 and 2017.
4. Ask an Occasional Test Question
We made a similar recommendation in our ‘8 Effective Tips for Teaching Times Tables’ blog, but we feel that it’s worth repeating (and adapting) here. As children aren’t allowed to use calculators during the exams, it’s highly important that you supercharge their SATs study with mental maths questions. We suggest doing this by slipping the occasional SATs style maths question into their daily lives. This can be done in any number of ways, for example testing their fractions while walking to school or reading out the grocery bill and asking them to round it up to the nearest 10 pence. Visual aids can be useful for this skill too, which is why we recommend downloading our times tables sheet and hanging it up somewhere the kids are bound to see it and learn it by heart.
5. Recreate Exam Conditions
A big part of exam technique is time management. So if you want to give your child the best quality practice for the SATs maths exams, we recommend that you get them to do a past paper in the exact same time limit they’d have in the actual exam. Don’t forget to keep a clock close by as well as this will teach them not to spend too long on a challenging question and save it for the end. It goes without saying that you can’t help them during this simulated exam but make sure that they know that it’s ok to move on from a question if they don’t know the answer. Also, don’t forget to tell them to show their working out as marks are still awarded for this in exams, even if the final answer is wrong or incomplete.
For your guidance, the breakdown for the maths SATs test is as follows:
Paper 1: 25 marks (15 minutes)
Paper 2: 35 marks (35 minutes)
Paper 1: 40 marks (30 minutes)
Paper 2: 35 marks (40 minutes)
Paper 3: 35 marks (40 minutes)
Please note that Paper 3 of the KS2 test will be done on a separate day to Papers 1 and 2.
Unfortunately, it’s time to call ‘pencils down’ on this blog. Before you leave your desks though, we just want to say that if you’re looking for an additional study aid in the run-up to SATs that will not only identify your child’s weak points in maths but will also give them lessons that aim to eliminate these weaknesses, you should definitely check out our multi-award-winning online tutor, Maths-Whizz. It’s an excellent tool to use when preparing your child for either the KS1 or KS2 SATs maths exams.