Flowchart of procedures from the development of a question paper to the issue of test results

Test development

Question papers and marking schemes with a key are set by national testing committees for individual subjects. The procedure comprises the following steps:

  1. Defining the structure of a question paper with regard to the number of tasks and items, the type of task (e.g. multiple choice questions, matching, short answers etc.), taxonomy levels of tasks (e.g. Bloom’s taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation) and learning content.
  2. Development of specification grids containing all the information on the structure of the question paper.
  3. Development of tasks in accordance with the parameters form the specification grid.

The Centre is responsible for the proofreading and formatting of question papers and marking schemes and for the translation of materials into Italian and Hungarian for ethnic minority pupils (for whom also certain adaptations are carried out in Geography, History and Music). The Centre is also responsible for modified question papers for pupils with special needs. Question papers for any individual sitting are determined through a random draw by the National Committee. For more detailed information on the structure of tests for individual subjects click here.

Maintaining confidentiality and security of tests and logistics

All procedures for the development, printing and distribution of question papers to schools and the assessment of scripts are designed with a view to managing the confidentiality and security of tests as well as the anonymity of all pupils and examiners. Careful recording of question papers prior to sending them to and from schools ensures the traceability of question papers during the administration and assessment of SATs.

Tests and assessment

Pupils of Years 6 and 9 sit SATs in individual subjects on the day determined by the Key Dates Calendar for SATs. The time allocated for each question paper is 60 minutes and all are taken in written format. Prior to assessment and based on a random sample of tests, each national testing committee and assistants to the chief examiners carry out moderation of the marking scheme. They include all additional and acceptable answers that were not included in marking schemes. Scripts are then marked by examiners under the guidance of chief examiners and their assistants.

In the 2012/2013 academic year, the assessment of Year 9 pupils was carried out electronically for the first time; in the 2013/2014 academic year this manner of assessment was introduced for SATs for Year 6. All pupils, however, still take pen-and-paper tests. Scripts are cut and scanned at the Centre and examiners mark them in a web application for e-marking.

Examiners of Year 6 pupils are teachers who meet the criteria for teaching individual subjects in Year 6 (they can include pupils’ teachers), while examiners of Year 9 pupils are teachers who teach in KS3. Question papers are marked in accordance with the moderated marking schemes. During assessment, examiners can turn to assistants and chief examiners for help regarding the key.

Gathering data and informing pupils and parents

The IT Centre, Research & Development Unit and Examination Unit in cooperation with national testing committees perform a number of statistical analyses and prepare descriptions of achievement of Year 6 and 9 pupils, for the pupils themselves, their parents, teachers and schools which offer an insight into the knowledge and skills demonstrated.

Pilot SATs at the end of KS1

Based on the Rules on Standard Assessment Tests in Primary Education, SATs at the end of KS1 (end of Year 3, age 9) were carried out for the first time in the 2017/2018 academic year. The general aim of the pilot SATs at the end of Key Stage 1 was to assess pupils’ reading comprehension and numerical literacy.