Six top tips for Year 6 teachers in the immediate run-up to SATs

Brace yourself, folks! The KS2 SATs Maths papers are now less than a week away!

At Whizz Education, we know that the immediate run-up to SATs can be a particularly challenging time for both teachers and students, so we thought we’d provide you with a few quick tips to help ensure that, come next Wednesday, your students are 100% ready to tackle those three maths papers.

1. Don’t panic!

There is nothing to be gained by last-minute hyperactivity. There’s a fine line between keeping the children “in the zone” and not piling on more pressure. By creating a whirlwind of activity in the lead-up to SATs you will only unsettle the class. Hopefully by now your students will have done a practice exam and will be aware of the organisational details of a classroom set up for the tests.

2. Support the individual and build confidence

Maintaining their confidence is key! Children generally have strong (sometimes inaccurate) perceptions on what their weak topics are. We recommend setting up ‘maths surgeries’ for individuals or small groups so you can help them to work on the areas they think they need to improve on, this will help boost their confidence and address misconceptions at the same time. Another way to instil confidence is to empower the children themselves. Children listen to each other, so it’s worth setting up peer tutoring sessions based on the knowledge you have of individual students’ strengths and weaknesses. It’s also worth addressing common errors in test technique by reminding children of simple ways to help avoid mistakes.

3. Introduce ICT-based activities

Just mentioning the word ‘SATs’ can make some children anxious or disengaged. Using engaging and interactive ICT- based activities during revision sessions, or as homework, helps children recap topics in a fun way. This is certainly one of the reasons we created, Maths-Whizz, the online, virtual maths tutor that helps raise attainment through individualised lessons that incorporate fun animations and interactive maths games.

4. Try out daily arithmetic and reasoning problems

Setting daily arithmetic and reasoning problems – which children can work collaboratively to solve – gives students an opportunity to listen and learn from each other. It’s worth giving them one problem a day, along with the solution and asking children to explain how to get the answer. With this approach, the children will learn to unpick maths concepts and consolidate their understanding.

5. Be positive!

Be realistic and ensure the children understand that they are only being tested on what they have learnt in KS2, that’s what they have learnt this year and previous years. Acknowledge how hard they have worked and ensure they are familiar with the key displays/working walls in the classroom environment. It might be helpful for some students to work on visualisations of what is displayed as it might jog their memories on some of the key concepts covered in class. It’s worth engaging with parents as well, helping them understand the process and what they can do at home to reduce anxiety. Incidentally, we recently wrote a blog on 7 tips parents can use to ease SATs exam nerves at home – it might be worth passing it on!

6. Celebrate

Finally, plan a way of celebrating with your students once the tests finish. They deserve a reward for all their hard work – as do you!

Much like the time left to prepare for SATs, the end of this blog is sadly nigh. By now, your students should be deep into their study regime for the SATs exams, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them put the finishing touches to their preparation. Remember that one of the keys to exam success is confidence. If your students can remain cool, calm and collected heading into their exams, they will be fine.

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