Teaching Resources

Less stressful SATs for your class (and you)

by Anna Whiteley
on March 25, 2017


With SATs fast approaching, there’s a shift in the atmosphere in schools around the country. Teachers and pupils alike feel the pressure. But don’t despair! You can get through SATs and maintain sanity. You just need to devise ways to make revision fun: facts and methods will sink in without your pupils even realising. Oh, and start the revision early! Get ahead of the game and introduce these 8 strategies to make SATs less stressful for your class (and you).

1. Sing-a-long SATs

It’s no secret that songs and rhymes make it easier to remember. The catchier, the better to make the valuable information stick in your head. Get musical with your class by asking them to create raps or songs based on the knowledge they need for the SATs. Set them to music and give them plenty of time to learn them.

2. Personalised revision cards

Yes, it’s an old-school way to revise, but by asking your pupils to create their own pack of cards to revise from they take control of their learning. Provide card, scissors and coloured pens, add the information they must learn, and give them free rein. Picking their own shapes, colours and themes gives them ownership and they’ll be unknowingly taking in the information whilst designing.

3. Competition time!

Use a PowerPoint presentation to interact with your pupils in a “pub quiz”. Create mixed ability teams and test knowledge with SATs-style questions. Healthy competition in the classroom can be great fun and really powerful. Create a contest where the winner becomes the SATs superstar and gains a special prize or role in the classroom that week: a VIP chair, cushion or cape works well. Have the children vote for their peers each week, who do they think has worked the hardest?

4. Peer support

Children respond better to revision when they see that their peers are on the case, too. Suggest setting up ‘revision groups’ within natural friendship groups and give them a mission to learn. This is a fun way to promote their learning and also encourages supportive behaviour and teamwork.

5. An opportunity to shine!

Capture their good will with a great explanation of why the SATs are so important. Explaining to your class that the SATs are about showing people who don’t know them what they can do. Stress that you know how brilliant they are, their parents know how brilliant they are, but no one else will know unless they get all the information down in the booklet. Praise, positive reinforcement and a clear explanation can make a huge difference.

6. Back to basics

Remember how much they loved stickers and certificates in Key Stage 1? Simple incentives are still hugely successful in Key Stage 2 to motivate children and parents! Ensure you celebrate successes. Can you host the SATs awards? With categories such as the most improved and the hardest reviser. Take a popular vote to make it even more meaningful.

7. Learn the format

Create mock SAT-style questions about a topic they love! Whether it’s Pokemon, Minecraft or X-factor – it doesn’t really matter so long as they’re practising the style and format of the questions. The more comfortable they are with the layout and type of questions, the more relaxed and comfortable they’ll be with answering the real thing.

8. “No” to the ‘t’ word

The word ‘test’ automatically strikes fear into people, young or old. Give the word “tests” the swerve completely. Can you rename SATs week? Think of another word, a code word or nickname for them? Perhaps instead of “Standard Assessment Tests”, SATs could stand for Super Achiever Try-outs? I know which would motivate me to try harder!

How will you make the SATs less stressful for your class? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!