KEY STAGE 1
The KS1 SPAG test comprises two components, which are presented to pupils as two separate test papers. The first paper is spelling which is administered aurally by the teacher. The second paper presents grammar, punctuation and vocabulary questions. This test is administered on paper.
Paper 1: a 20-word spelling test taking approximately 15 minutes and worth 10 marks.
Paper 2: a grammar, punctuation and vocabulary test, in two sections of around 10 minutes each (with a break between, if necessary), worth 20 marks. This will involve a mixture of selecting the right answers e.g. through multiple choice, and writing short answers.
The tests are designed to enable pupils to demonstrate their attainment and as a result are not strictly timed since the ability to work at pace is not part of the assessment. Guidance will be provided to schools to ensure that pupils are given sufficient time to demonstrate what they understand, know and can do without prolonging the test inappropriately. The total testing time is expected to be approximately 35 minutes.
How will the tests be marked?
Although the tests are set externally, they will be marked by teachers within the school. Instead of the old national curriculum levels, children will be given a standardised score – although this may not be communicated to parents. Teacher assessments will also be used to build up a picture of your child’s learning and achievements. In addition, your child will receive an overall result saying whether they have achieved the required standard in the tests. The Department for Education aims for 85% of children to reach the required standard.
KEY STAGE 2
The SPaG test includes questions that assess the following elements of the English curriculum:
- Sentence grammar through both identifying and writing sentences that are grammatically correct.
- Punctuation through identifying and writing sentences that are correctly punctuated.
- Vocabulary through identifying and writing sentences in which a word is used correctly.
THE QUESTION PAPERS
The SPaG test consists of two papers:
Paper 1 has multiple choice or short sentence answers. They cover areas such as using connectives; using pronouns correctly; capitalising the correct words in a sentence and explaining why; putting the correct punctuation into a sentence; writing sentences that illustrate two different meanings of the same word; identifying the verb/noun/adjective/clauses in a sentence and using plurals correctly.
Paper 2 is a spelling test, where children will have to spell words dictated by the teacher.
THE SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE NEEDED
As well as being able to spell words correctly, use a wide range of vocabulary and punctuate well, children need to have a technical understanding of how the English language works. For example, they should understand the meaning of grammatical terms such as adjective, prefix, and adverb; know what phrases and clauses are and how to use them; understand what connectives are and how they work and know how to turn a question into a command. This terminology can be challenging even for children who are otherwise good at reading and writing and make the questions hard to understand.
HOW YOU CAN HELP AT HOME
- Make spelling part of everyday life!
- Write down some unpunctuated sentences for your child to punctuate correctly.
- Copy some sentences from a book and underline either the main or subordinate clause.
- Write letters or emails and encourage your child to add an adjective or adverb to a sentence.
- Play word games: say a word and ask your child to tell you a synonym (a word that means the same) or an antonym (a word that means the opposite).
- If your child asks you a question, ask how he would rephrase it as a command (e.g. ‘Can you make me a drink?’ becomes, ‘Make me a drink!’)
- Encourage your child to read a variety of texts – fiction, information books, comics, newspapers, magazines, etc – to broaden their vocabulary.