What is the Key Stage 2 SATs Maths Arithmetic paper?

The Maths SATs tests consist of three separate papers. Paper 1 is an Arithmetic paper whilst Paper 2 & 3 are Reasoning papers.  The arithmetic paper mainly tests skills in calculations, fractions, decimals & percentages.


When is the Key Stage 2 SATs Maths Arithmetic paper?

This school year (2020-2021) the arithmetic paper will take place mid May 2021 and will take 30 minutes to complete.

How different is the Arithmetic paper to the reasoning papers?

The format of the questions are very different in the arithmetic and reasoning papers, as the arithmetic questions are more straightforward. There are no word problems. The children are simply given a number sentence to solve. Many children score higher on the arithmetic paper because it is a bit clearer which maths skills they need to apply.

Take a look at Q15 from the Arithmetic Paper and Q10 from Paper 2 in 2019.


Both questions assess knowledge of “order of operations” You can clearly see in the arithmetic paper, it is more obvious what the children need to do. The question in Paper 2 combines “order of operations” with “simple formulae expressed in words”. Questions in the reasoning papers often combine at least two different maths skills. Children will have to do a bit more work in first understanding the problem and then choosing what math skills they need to use!

Compare Q25 from Paper 1 with Q20 from Paper 3 in 2019 and again you will see it is really clear in Paper 1 what math skill is being tested.

Children can also see which numbers they need to divide and with the method set out for them, they have an extra memory jog. In Paper 3, the skill of long division is needed but only after multiplying the packs of paper by 2 to find the total amount of sheets. It is not uncommon to see answers where children have completed accurate calculations BUT they didn’t complete the correct calculation because they misunderstood the question. They could have calculated 500 ÷ 34 or 34 x 2. The answer also required children to understand what to do with their remainder. They would have got the answer 29 with a remainder of 14 or as decimal number. They need to understand that as the question calls for complete booklets, the answer in this context would be 29. Another word problem with the same calculations but a different context could have altered the answer to 30.

Why is it important to revise for the Key Stage 2 SATs Maths Arithmetic paper?

There are 40 marks available from this paper alone, making up a significant 36% of the total mark. Arithmetic skills are the building blocks of maths, practising these skills will help your child get a better score in Paper 1 but will also help in the other 2 papers. You can’t solve a word problem without the arithmetic skills in the first place! Arithmetic skills are also the skills we all use in real life. Calculating, using fractions, decimals and percentages, and the use of statistics are all essential skills when thinking about our real life finances, budgeting and shopping!



Many of the questions in the arithmetic paper come from previous year groups, so it is important to find out exactly which skills your child needs which may be very different to the other children in their class. If they are missing a skill from a previous year group, there is a chance it may not be covered during their time in Year 6.





Join my FREE Arithemtic Academy in September 2020.

It is a FREE 6 week course published every Saturday on my Facebook Support Group

and also on the Pocket Private Tutor YouTube channel.

There is a free printable resource alongside an interactive questioning tool which will only be available for 2 weeks after each tutorial goes live.

This is a great way of preparing your child for the types of questions in Paper 1 and is als the building blocks of the calculation skills needed across all three SATs papers.





Download practice Arithmetic papers

Help your child to build their confidence and familiarity with arithmetic questions with one of our expertly designed Practice Papers. I have designed a set of 6 downloadable practice arithmetic papers which have questions typical of past arithmetic papers. With the answers available, you can get instant feedback. Use the papers to test your child’s skills and help identify any areas which need further study or revision.

For even more guidance, don’t forget that the Pocket Private Tutor revision app is currently completely free to download. You can access 6 lessons, with videos and activities designed by an experienced Year 6 teacher and SATs marker. If you choose to subscribe, you will gain access to learning material for every single one of the learning objectives in the Year 6 Mathematics National Curriculum. Don’t wait for something to be covered in class, if your child needs help with something, access it whenever you want and wherever you have access to a laptop, tablet or mobile device!

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