Your guide to the 2016 National Curriculum Tests: KS2 Grammar, punctuation and spelling

Caroline Derby

In May, Year 6 will be tested for the first time on the content of the new curriculum for grammar, punctuation and spelling. We’ve taken a look at the sample tests and test frameworks to see what’s the same, what’s different, and what to watch out for.

Paper 1: Grammar and punctuation
Like the 2015 paper, children will have 45 minutes to complete the test. Unlike 2015, however, there will be no separate ‘Level 6’ extended task paper, meaning that this year’s paper will include harder content for higher achievers. The questions will all be multiple choice or short answer questions (often ticking or underlining, sometimes writing a word or sentence).

The content of the paper can be drawn from any year group of the national curriculum, and appear in approximate order of difficulty. Many of the more straightforward questions in the sample paper relate to tenses and also to punctuation. Trickier questions, however, require a real grasp of how different words can belong to different word classes depending on the sentence. For example, a word like ‘before’ can be an adverb, a preposition and a conjunction, and a question asking children to identify how it is used in a sentence requires a high level of sophistication. Some aspects of grammar that were previously only assessed in the Level 6 test are present here – semi-colons, colons and passive and active voices. Other surprises include a question testing understanding of the subjunctive form, proving that even the most arcane aspects of the curriculum may find their way into the test.

Paper 2: Spelling
The spelling paper hasn’t changed much from the 2015 test in format. There are 20 questions, and although 15 minutes is allowed, this is not strictly timed. The words, however, represent an increase in difficulty. Some of them may not be very familiar to children who have not read widely (e.g. scent, ominous), while others like possession and drawer might trip up others.

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 part of 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: KS1 Maths

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.

One thought on “Your guide to the 2016 National Curriculum Tests: KS2 Grammar, punctuation and spelling

  1. […] 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 […]

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