Secondary Education results are in! Our BBC has published reports of academic success stories: high marks, even under the new points system.

News of other students' achievements might cause you to wonder about your own young scholar.

When will your child sit for his/her corresponding Key Stage exam?

And how does the updated tabulation correlate to your child's academic accomplishments?

In this article, you will find the latest standards and updates to the Key Stage program in UK public schools.

Key Stage One & Key Stage Two Exam Particulars

Your young learner will sit for his/her first formal exam toward the end of Year 2, during the month of May.

English language aspects that are measured at that time are reading, grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, and spelling.

Maths capabilities will also be tested.

Help your child cultivate a love of reading
Reading is the best way for your child to gain English skills Source: Pixabay Credit: Oldiefan

Key Stage 1 Reading Skills

This segment of the exam consists of two parts.

The first involves a short text, between four- and seven hundred words, with questions throughout.

The questions are targeted to specific portions of the text that the learner should answer before moving on to another expressed idea.

The second is a collection of short paragraphs totalling a maximum of one thousand, one hundred words, with questions drawn from the text.

Answer formats include, among others:

  • multiple choice
  • matching
  • labeling
  • short answers
  • ranking/ordering

For this part, you child will record his/her responses on a separate sheet of paper.

Reading comprehension is generally allotted thirty minutes per segment, for a total of one hour.

However, students are not held to that constraint as the exam is designed to prove ability, not intellectual agility.

Year Two Grammar Skills, English Spelling and Punctuation Assessment

To measure proficiency in these aspects of English learning, pupils will sit for two separate exams.

The spelling test covers twenty randomly chosen words, and lasts approximately twenty minutes.

Help your child become a champion at English with these engaging activities!

The grammar, punctuation and vocabulary part is taken separately, in two segments.

Each lasts about ten minutes, and students may enjoy a small break between them, if needed.

Response formats include multiple choice and short answers.

How the Exam is Marked

The ceiling is one hundred and fifteen points; the lowest bar is set at eighty-five.

The median, one hundred, means your English learner competence level is as expected.

If s/he tests below that bar, more support and guidance is indicated. If returned results are above it, performance is rated as higher than his/her peer group.

If your child is an Esl student, she will also have to sit for the exam. To better prepare for it, we suggest additional English courses, or enrolling him/her in an extracurricular language school.

Test takers's results are interpreted along a spectrum, much like the letter marks one receives on a composition paper.

You will not be told your child's actual results unless you ask.

The tests are not composed by the Department for Education. However, they are marked by the teachers at individual schools.

Do you want an in-depth look at specifics of Key Stage learning? Or you're looking for an English tutor?

Of Special Note for Key Stage One 2018

Because of an accidental online publication of the exam's spelling paper last year, prior to the exam, the Schools Minister rescinded public school students' obligation to sit for that portion of the test.

This year, the SPAG segments remained optional.

SPAG stands for English spelling, punctuation and grammar.

As yet, there is no official word that the optional portions of the last two years will be compulsory next year.

That give you time to tell us what you think about spelling, punctuation and handwriting in general: are they still useful, important skills for students to learn?

Your child will sit for a formal exam during Year Six
Your child's Year Six exam is a bit more strenuous Source: Pixabay Credit: Ska_Chai

Key Stage Two Exam Specifics

Whereas the UK educational system's Year 2 exam is not considered an official measurement of students' abilities, the Year 6 exam carries substantial gravitas.

Because this more exacting test weighs heavily on your child's official academic record, it is accorded an expanded schedule.

Furthermore, the various components are spread out – across the third week of May.

Reading Comprehension is planned for Monday. SPAG will be administered on Tuesday.

Maths will round out the week.

Both Key Stage One and Key Stage Two exams were updated last year to reflect new standards in the National Curriculum. This new test has been deemed more rigorous than past years' versions.

You can look here the best Key Stage revision resources.

Here is what you need to know before your child sits for his/her Year 6 exam.

Key Stage Two Reading

This reading test poses a series of questions over three separate passages.

Texts include poetry, classic literature and select portions of news and magazine articles that reflect current events.

Students will have one hour to read and understand these English texts, and then respond to queries in any of these formats:

  • Find and copy
  • Labeling
  • Ranking and ordering
  • Short, one-sentence answers
  • Open end questions – essay answers

All time limits are observed for this exam because working at speed is a measure of literacy by this age/grade.

Key Stage Two Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation Assessment

As with the Year Two exam, this SPAG portion consists of two parts.

Grammar and punctuation are incorporated into one paper, with a forty-five minute time limit.

Here, the student will face two response types:

  1. Selected response – identifying indicated word types, verbs or adjectives, e.g..
  2. Open-end questions, in which s/he is called on to justify punctuation placement or rewrite a sentence to a prescribed format.

Spelling competencies are challenged through dictation, meaning the student hears each word and must write them from that prompt.

Pupils are given up to fifteen minutes to accurately spell twenty words.

Need some help for English GCSE exam, get a private tutor to boost your grade.

How the Exam is Graded

As with Key Stage One, your child's official result will be a composite score, and the target of one hundred remains as the national average.

However, the maximum and minimum limits have been moved, to one hundred twenty and eighty five, respectively.

Students sitting the Year 6 exam are expected to fall in the one hundred and above spectrum.

Learners must achieve an overall mark of four (4) or above, else they will be scheduled to resit during Year 7.

If your child has missed that mark, you might consider extra English classes or maybe even learning English online to reinforce learned skills.

Contrary to Key Stage One, you will be notified of your learner's actual marks for each portion of the exam.

Another significant difference from the previous exam is that the Department for Education oversees and is actively involved in all phases of the exam.

The test is set and marked outside of official educational channels, and the results are used to evaluate the school as well as measuring the students' English skills.

In addition to those external marks, your child's teacher will add a layer of evaluation to render a broader picture of your his/her language skills.

The topic of Key Stage assessments causes people to think: are they worth it?
Do you think Key Stage exams are necessary? Source: Pixabay Credit: Robin Higgins

Reflecting on the Exams

Besides teachers' concerns over constant exam revamping, there is substantial debate among educators over whether the Standard Assessment Tests truly assess measured progress in key areas.

Does constant evaluation of English language learning hinder true learning? This idiom expresses the conundrum exactly:

You don't fatten a pig by weighing it.

Opponents of these standard exams express the concern that, if student assessment is truly needed, let classroom performance and routine assignment grades serve that purpose.

They contend that exams only offer a snapshot of students' reading and writing abilities, and do nothing to evaluate a teacher's ability to teach English.

This overview has tips, resources and pertinent links to help your English learner at these Key Stages, as well links to finding a private English tutor.

Little accommodation, if any, is given to students with learning challenges such as ADD or dyslexia, even if they have a current SEN certificate. Such English speakers are expected to sit for exams alongside their peers.

Non native students, those who are learning English as a second language, are given no consideration or exemption at all.

If you are the parent of an Esl student, your child must sit for the exams, even though s/he is not a native English speaker. S/he will be tested on listening skills and writing skills, the same as the rest of the class.

Perhaps the greatest concern is that, gradually, school teaching is evolving into teaching to the test.

The educator who contends these exams are necessary sees them as a way to uphold and maintain national educational standards across the country.

An English tutor who favours these standardised tests appreciate the guidelines for effective language teaching that they provide with help for English.

What are your thoughts on these national exams?

Whether you agree or disagree with the necessity of these tests, there are ways to insure your child succeeds academically.

  • Be involved at every step of your learner's English teaching
  • Provide reinforcement, especially for tricky grammar rules and verb tenses
  • Incorporate fun learning activities into your everyday English, to promote fluency
    • you can occasionally launch English vocabulary questions at mealtime, for example
  • Foster a love of learning English, especially the more challenging parts, such as grammar and irregular verbs

Much of your child's attitude toward education comes from you.

The more you participate, the more he will.

The more you are involved, the more she will be.

The more you invest in your child and his/her education, the greater your – and his/her return.

You might start by focusing on handwriting skills...

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.