When looking at the education system in the UK, GCSEs are often looked at as being the first standardised, national exams that you’ll have to do. However, in England, students would have previously taken standardised, national exams while still in primary school: SATs.
Especially as the other UK nations don’t use SATs, these exams are often a bit looked over. This is particularly when it comes to looking at the finer details, such as scores, how these work and what is a “good” score.
In short, SATs scores are scaled and range from 80 as the lowest to 120 as the highest. With students getting one each for English reading, maths and English grammar, punctuation and spelling. In 2023, the average score for both English papers was 105 and for the maths paper it was 104, all of which was the same as 2022. A “good” score is quite subjective but appears to be any score above these average scores as students receiving these will be exceeding the expected standard.
Continue reading to get a break down of what the SATs scores actually mean. Other than going through what’s considered a good score or an average score, we’ll also be looking at what these “good” or “average” scores really mean, including the impact they can have for the future.
Table of Contents
How does the SATs grading system work UK?
In England, SATs are taken at the end of both key stage 1, in Year 2, and at the end of key stage 2, in Year 6. In this article, we’ll only be looking at the Year 6 SATs as they are what is generally being referred to when talking about SATs.
For the Year 6 SATs, you’ll get a raw score based on the number of marks you get in total from the papers you sat. In the key stage 2 SATs, students have to sit 6 exams in English reading, English grammar and maths.
There are 230 marks available across these 6 papers. With a maximum of 70 marks in the English grammar papers, a maximum of 50 marks in the English reading paper and 110 marks across the 3 maths papers.
For each of these test areas, the raw marks are converted into a scaled score. This means that the student will have 3 scaled scores, altogether.
This is done in order to ensure that SATs are being scored at the same level each year, despite possible differences in the level of difficulty in the exam. This allows the scores to meet a certain standard and for different cohorts to be compared more easily.
These scaled scores range from 80 as the lowest score to 120 as the highest score. However, if a student doesn’t get enough marks, they won’t be able to get a scaled score and will just get their raw marks.
You can learn more about how the SATs scoring system works by checking out this guide from the government.
What do Year 6 SATs results mean?
In order to be able to properly understand what a “good” score or an “average” score for the Year 6 SATs exams is, it’s important to break down what these results are. Now that we have looked at the fact that there are scaled scores ranging from 80 to 120, let’s have a look at what these actually mean.
For the key stage 2 SATs, students are graded between 80, at the lowest, and 120, at the highest. In this case, students will need to have received a scaled score of at least 100 to have met the expected standard.
The scaled score of 100 being an indicator that the student has met the expected standard has been the case since 2017, after a panel of teachers met in 2016 to discuss the raw score that would be required to meet the expected standard.
If a student receives a scaled score between 80 and 99 or is unable to receive a scaled score as they did not get enough marks, they would be categorised as having not met the expected standard. This would be shown with the letter ’NS’ when they get back the results.
You can learn more about this by checking out this guide by the government.
What is the pass mark for Year 6 SATs 2024?
Technically speaking, Year 6 SATs don’t actually have a pass or fail. Due to this, there isn’t actually a pass mark.
However, with the scaled score of 100 being the expected standard, it acts quite similar to a pass and fail system. As mentioned previously, students will receive either the letters ’NS’ for expected standard not achieved or ‘AS’ expected standard achieved on their results.
While we know that the expected standard is 100, we can convert this back into the raw marks to get a pass mark of sorts. This needs to be done separately as each exam attributes raw marks to scaled scores slightly differently.
For 2023, on the English reading paper students would need to get at least 24 raw marks out of 50 to receive the scaled score of 100. For the English grammar, punctuation and spelling papers, students would need to get a combined raw score of at least 36 out of 70 to get 100. For the maths papers, students needed a combined score of at least 56 out of 110 to receive a scaled score of 100.
You can learn more about this by checking out the raw marks to scaled score conversion table for 2023 in this document from the government website.
What were the average Year 6 SATs scores 2023?
Looking at the average scores of students in England taking SATs is important as it shows us how realistic the expected standard is and how well students are typically performing. It also sets a bar from which we can compare what a “good” score is.
As previously mentioned, students get a scaled score for each of the subject areas of their exams: English reading, English grammar, punctuation and spelling, and maths. The average scores are also in scaled scores as these are easier to compare.
For 2023, the average scaled score for the English reading paper was 105, the same as in 2022. The average English grammar, punctuation and spelling scaled scored was also 105, as it was in 2022. For the maths papers, the average scaled score was 104, once again, the same as it was in 2022.
These average scaled scores have been calculated from the mean of all the pupils who took the key stage 2 SATs in 2023 and received enough raw marks to achieve a scaled score. You can learn more about this by checking out this page on the government website.
What is a good Year 6 SATs score?
The notion of a “good” score in anything will generally be subjective and can lead to lots of debate on what this actually means. However, it can help to consider the context of the exam to keep us on track.
In this case, the purpose of students taking key stage 2 SATs is to monitor the progress and academic achievement of students, comparing this on a local and national level as well as for different cohorts as well. You can learn more about this by checking out this Think Student article.
As previously mentioned, students need a score of at least 100 in order to be able to have met the expected standard. As this is the minimum desired outcome for students taking their SATs, it is safe to suggest that any scaled score of at least 100 is a good SATs score.
However, it could alternatively be argued that only results of a scaled scored above the average scaled scores are actually “good” scores. As previously mentioned, the average scores of 2023 were 105 for both English reading and English grammar, punctuation and grammar and 104 for maths.
This would mean that a good score for either English paper would be 106 or above. Whereas for maths, it would be 105 or above.
Do SATs in Year 6 matter?
As previously mentioned, SATs are designed to measure a student’s progress, in comparison to other students in the area and in England as a whole. By extension, they are also taken to assess the quality of teaching and allow people to compare different schools in a region.
However, SATs are taken in primary school and are a student’s first take on national, standardised exams. While arguably giving them some preparation for the future, it also comes with a whole range of side effects, such as the stress and pressure that these kinds of exams bring. This always raises the question of whether these exams should matter at all.
To Year 6 pupils, SATs should matter to some extent as they are sent off to your secondary school to indicate your academic ability. This can then be used for things, such as creating sets and even predicting grades. Although, it’s important to note that other measures are also used to come up with these.
You can learn more about whether or not SATs matter in this Think Student article.