KS2 Reading Paper 2019 – How Challenging Was It?

The 2019 KS2 SAT Reading paper saw pupils faced with two fiction texts and one informational text. Using Lexile® measures, we have analysed the complexity of each of the three text selections to determine readability.

If you’re not familiar, the Lexile Framework for Reading is a scientific approach that places both the reader and text on the same developmental scale, with a Lexile measure defined as “the numeric representation of an individual’s reading ability or a text’s readability (or difficulty), followed by an “L” (Lexile)”.

Running a text through the Lexile Analyzer generates an algorithm that measures the complexity of the text by breaking down the entire piece and studying its characteristics, such as sentence length and word frequency, which represent the syntactic and semantic challenges that the text presents to a reader.

The outcome is the text complexity, expressed as a Lexile measure, along with information on the word count, mean sentence length and mean log frequency. Generally, longer sentences and words of lower frequency lead to higher Lexile measures; shorter sentences and words of higher frequency lead to lower Lexile measures – click here for more information.

Text 1: The Park

The analysis of the first text shows a Lexile® Measurement of 500L-600L and a word count of 570. This is the lowest Lexile® Range out of the three texts in the paper, meaning pupils with lower readability skills would have found this text more accessible than the others.

Text 2: About Bumblebees

You can see a big leap in terms of Lexile Measurements with a range of 1000L-1110L and a word count of 838. We would suggest that the layout of this text (in terms of manageable, orderly chunks with lightly coloured sections) makes it more accessible than previous informational texts.

Text 3: Music Box

The final text had a mid-range Lexile® Measurement of 800L-900L with a word count of 902. However, there was a significant increase in the assessment of inference within the questions, meaning this text was targeting pupils with greater depth.

Final Thoughts

All texts seemed well-structured and accessible for Year 6 pupils, especially Text 2. We found the texts and questioning styles to be progressive meaning lower-ability children should be able to successfully access at least the first text.

Based on past papers from 2016, we expected the greatest emphasis of the questioning to remain on Retrieval, Inference and Vocabulary. However, what we found surprising, was a significant reduction of vocabulary questioning on this paper. Within the questions, there was a larger range of questions challenging the pupil’s Retrieval skills, compared to the previous year where inference had the greatest amount.

Based on the 2018 scaled score, if the children were unable to answer any of the inference questions but were able to answer other types of questions correctly, they could earn a raw score of 32 – providing a scaled score of 103. This is a very high score, which means there could be a significant jump in the raw score required to achieve the scaled score of 100 within the 2019 Reading paper.


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