Your guide to the 2016 National Curriculum Tests: KS1 Grammar, punctuation and spelling

Caroline Derby

This spring, for the first time, Year 2 children will sit a formal grammar, spelling and punctuation test. We’ve taken a look at the sample tests and test frameworks to see what’s in store for them (and for you).

Paper 1: Spelling
The spelling test takes 15 minutes, though this is not strictly timed. It consists of 20 words, given in sentences, plus a couple of practice questions to check that children understand the procedure. With a bit of practice, children should be able to understand the format and what to do. The content is a different story – the words are likely to be from the harder end of the 2014 national curriculum programme of study. Words such as ‘peaceful’ and ‘teddies’ might trip children up. As in the grammar paper, only British English spellings are accepted and no credit is given for phonically plausible attempts. There is one mark per question.

Paper 2: Grammar and punctuation
The grammar and punctuation test is slightly longer at 20 minutes – like the spelling test, it is not strictly timed. There are a couple of practice questions at the start, which the teacher does together with the children. The main body of the test consists of approximately 20 questions, and there is usually one mark per question (occasionally two). The majority of the questions ask children to identify the right answer (e.g. tick, circle or match it) and a minority ask them to supply the answer (e.g. adding suffixes or punctuation marks, or rewriting a word or phrase).

The content comes from both Year 1 and Year 2. The sample test asks lots of questions about nouns, verbs and adjectives, so children with a solid grounding in word classes should cope fine. Trickier questions include the difference between present and past tense and transforming indirect speech to direct speech. Look out for the strict definitions of questions and exclamations (according to the framework, a sentence like ‘This is your favourite?’ would not be considered a question, and for the purposes of the test, exclamations can only start with ‘How’ or ‘What’!)

Scoring and reporting
Each child will have a raw score calculated (the total marks achieved out of the 40 marks available). This will then be converted into a scaled score, out of 100. Each child will be told whether he or she has achieved the required standard on the test. We won’t know until after the 2016 test has been taken what the required standard will be.

This blog post is the first in a series of posts from experts breaking down the new 2016 National Curriculum tests by subject area to show you exactly what has changed and what to expect in May 2016. Read the next post: Your guide to the 2016 National Curriculum Tests: KS2 Grammar, punctuation and spelling

Caroline Derby has worked in educational publishing for more than 10 years, specialising in primary literacy. She is the senior publisher for Nelson English Skills and Project X.