Eyes down, it's time for Sats reading test bingo

What will the Sats reading test have in store for pupils? Aidan Severs has a few educated guesses

Aidan Severs

retrieval practice pedagogy focus

The Sats reading test – the big one, the one we all wait for with bated breath. Just what will it include?

Load up your bingo cards and let’s see what we get!

Animals aplenty, it’s a 20

Animal encounters and Sats reading papers go way back. Recently, we’ve had meetings with whales, cats stuck up trees, tiny frogs and snails and, of course, the infamous albino giraffe and milling juvenile warthogs. 

Guide dogs, ladybirds and octopi all came before, not forgetting the Standards and Testing Agency’s brief obsession with wolves. 

I fancy that some of the polar region’s inhabitants are due an appearance, or maybe some creatures closer to home: the humble sheep, perhaps? 

We’re not through the animals yet! Whether it’s the last few remaining pandas, the long-gone dodo or the mighty lizards roaming a lost world, the test writers certainly seem to have a thing for endangered or extinct creatures.

With conservation of the planet high on the agenda, perhaps we will have a passage on sea turtles, a tale about Tasmanian tigers or a poem about the passenger pigeon.


A middle-class tour? It’s a four

I wonder what sort of exciting adventure a (probably) middle-class child might experience in tomorrow’s paper? 

Rowing a boat to an island – done. Mysterious discovery in a dilapidated farmhouse – check. Perhaps a portal will open up in Waitrose? Or a picnic of brioche and hummus with lashings of ginger ale will turn into an adventure with smugglers? 

Either way, it’s going to be exciting.

Impossible word picks, it’s 66

It goes without saying that tomorrow’s test will include some impossible vocabulary. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing word of the day with vocabulary taken from the "weird and wonderful" word list and reading Dickens and Tolstoy at home time – there will be something in there that they just won’t get. Borborygmus. Deracinate. But let’s hope for a eucatastrophe.

A bit of rhyme, it’s number 9

The outsider bet here is that 2019 will see another poem. A bit of Michael Rosen or Benjamin Zephaniah, no matter how relevant and appropriate, probably won’t cut the proverbial mustard. Some Rossetti, Byron or Keats is much more like it – or one of the revered bard’s sonnets?

Multiple-choice hate – it’s 88

Something we teachers always look forward to, of course, are those ambiguous multiple-choicers. I’m sure we’ll all welcome one of those tomorrow. And how we will cringe when we see that child tick two when it clearly says "tick one".

Only Brits here, please – it’s all the threes

We are well due another account of some brave and heroic deed carried out by Westerners – in the past, we’ve had the swimming of the English Channel (ooh), travelling to space (ahh) and…the discovery of the potato (err…).

I’d love to see Tenzing Norgay’s conquest of Everest, Matthew Henson’s triumphant arrival at the North Pole or Al-Khwarizmi’s groundbreaking work in mathematics (nice bit of cross-curricular there) – but perhaps we’ll have to make do with something a little bit more "British Values".

Impressions down carefully, cross off 23

It’s a dead cert that this year children will have "impressions" and "suggestions" coming out of their ears. What impression do you get…? What other impressions do you get? Give two impressions. What does this word suggest? What does this description suggest? 

Behaviour issues, it’s both the 2s

All the time that teachers spend time ensuring children are well behaved goes to pot when the Sats reading test rolls around.

Tales of gross insubordination and misdemeanours are everywhere. Sneaking away from parties, riding albino giraffes against Grandma’s orders, disobeying the rules of tree-climbing, refusing to hand back someone else’s property – these kids are beyond the pale! What naughtiness will this year’s protagonists get up to?

Look! It’s Chen! That’s number 10

Chen, of KS2 maths test fame, hit the big time last year; he even joined Twitter to revel in the adulation. But will he appear in this year’s tests, and what if he appears in the starring role – the reading test fiction text?

Or even better, a return to the olden days of themed papers with all the texts being about Chen: non-fiction about his role in the maths tests down the years, the story of the time when Chen accidentally hijacked an aeroplane to pull his #ChenForSats2019 banner and, of course, a love poem all about our favourite Sats character. 

Aidan Severs is a deputy head at a primary school in the North of England. He tweets @thatboycanteach

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