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Mastering Spellings for Year 6 SATs: Must-Know Strategies and Word Lists

May 1, 2024

Are you preparing for “spellings for year 6 sats” and looking for a concise guide on what to expect and how to succeed? In this article, we’ll explore the key spelling challenges, from high-frequency words to homophones, commonly misspelt terms, and the prefixes and suffixes that often trip up students.

Discover effective strategies for mastering these tricky elements and supporting your child’s journey towards SATs success without the unnecessary fluff.

Key Takeaways

  • The Year 6 SATs spelling test assesses students’ spelling proficiency, requiring mastery of a spelling list of high-frequency words, common spelling errors, and the understanding of prefixes, suffixes, and homophones.
  • Effective strategies for learning spellings include the use of mnemonic devices, engaging games and activities to reinforce patterns and rules, and consistent practice through methods like ‘look-cover-write-check’.
  • Parents are crucial in supporting their child’s spelling journey, providing assistance by reading together, helping with homework, offering appropriate resources, and creating an environment conducive to learning.
Mastering Spellings for Year 6 SATs: Must-Know Strategies and Word Lists

Year 6 SATs Spelling Test Overview

The spelling test is a critical part of the Year 6 SATs, as stipulated by the National Curriculum. It consists of 20 words that assess students’ proficiency in spelling.

Imagine this scenario: the teacher reads aloud a word, and every student in the room must write down the correct spelling of that word. It is a test of attention, comprehension, and, of course, spelling skills.

Grasping the structure of the spelling test paves the way to mastery. Questions arise: which words must students spell accurately? Are there typical missteps to be cautious of? We’ll delve into these queries in the next section.

Essential Spelling Words for Year 6 SATs

In the Year 6 spelling curriculum, students encounter a spelling list of 100 high-frequency words they must learn to spell correctly. This learning journey spans two academic years, Year 5 and Year 6, and forms a crucial part of the preparation for the Year 6 SATs.

The objective is for students to gain the confidence to read and write by the culmination of Year 6, a vital progression for the spelling portion of the Key Stage SATs.

Commonly Misspelled Words

As students prepare for their Year 6 SATs, they often encounter spelling challenges with certain words.

Some common words that often trip up students include:

  • February
  • surprise
  • because
  • clothes
  • frightened

These misspellings can be attributed to phonetic confusion or irregular word patterns, or they might stem from simple oversight or incorrect punctuation.

Counteracting these frequent errors requires students to partake in focused practice, and comprehension of accurate spelling patterns, and word origins. This methodology can pave the way to mastery of these frequently misspelt words and bolster their self-assurance in the spelling test.

Prefixes and Suffixes

A key part of the KS2 curriculum is understanding prefixes and suffixes as they are vital for grasping the structure and formation of words. Adding prefixes and suffixes can significantly alter the meaning of a word. For instance, the prefix ‘un-‘ can negate the original word.

Common English prefixes include:

  • ‘dis-‘
  • ‘mis-‘
  • ‘mal-‘
  • ‘pre-‘

Each prefix modifies the base word’s meaning in a distinctive way.

Year 6 SATs tests regularly feature words with prefixes and suffixes, underlining the significance of students learning these word elements. Gaining proficiency in the use of prefixes and suffixes can give students a competitive advantage in their spelling test.

Mastering Spellings for Year 6 SATs: Must-Know Strategies and Word Lists

Homophones and Confusing Word Pairs

Homophones – words that sound the same but have different meanings and/or spellings – are another challenge for Year 6 students. Examples include ‘their’, ‘they’re’, and ‘there’, or ‘to’, ‘too’, and ‘two’. These can easily be confused, leading to errors in both spelling and meaning.

Then we have confusing word pairs, like ‘accept’ and ‘except’ or ‘affect’ and ‘effect’, which are not homophones but are often mistaken for one another. Recognizing the correct application of similar-sounding words through contextual cues and practice can help students master spelling.

Strategies for Learning and Practicing Spellings

Having pinpointed the words to concentrate on, what methods can students employ for efficient learning and practice of these spellings?

Strategies including:

  • Stair steps
  • Prompt cards
  • Look-cover-write-check
  • Mnemonic devices

Effective grammar skills are key to imparting tricky words, challenging spellings, and organizing papers.

We’ll examine these strategies more closely in the subsequent subsections.

Flashcards and Mnemonics

Flashcards are a popular learning tool that can enhance children’s ability to read and spell words. By repeatedly seeing words on flashcards, students can reinforce their memory of spelling patterns.

Imagine a flashcard with the word ‘February’. The student studies it, repeats it, and writes it down, reinforcing its spelling in their memory.

Mnemonics, on the other hand, make use of silly sentences or phrases where the first letter of each word represents the target spelling. For example, to remember the spelling of ‘because’, one could use the mnemonic “Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants”.

Mnemonic flashcards, which combine these visual cues with memorable associations, can be particularly effective for common exception words.

Spelling Games and Activities

Engaging games like crossword puzzles, word searches, and spelling bees can make learning spellings interactive and entertaining. These activities not only make the learning process more enjoyable but also reinforce the spelling rules and patterns.

Scrabble tiles can be used for activities such as alphabetical arrangement, vowel identification, and word formation, providing an engaging way to teach spelling. Similarly, memory games using flashcards, including matching words with definitions, can improve children’s retention of spelling words.

Regular Practice and Revision

The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ holds true, especially when it comes to mastering spellings. The ‘look, say, cover, write, check’ method, when used regularly, can enhance a student’s ability to remember spellings.

Imagine a student practicing the word ‘received’ – they:

  1. Look at it
  2. Say it aloud
  3. Cover it
  4. Write it down
  5. Check their spelling

It’s also crucial for students to recognize syllables in words and to spell each syllable separately, which may simplify the learning process. Parents can guide their children in this practice.

Additionally, revision sessions that incorporate activities such as practice quizzes and tasks targeted at specific spelling patterns can significantly enhance students’ retention and understanding of spelling rules.

Supporting Your Child's Spelling Journey

Supporting Your Child's Spelling Journey

Let’s now shift our focus to ways parents can assist in their child’s spelling journey. Collaboratively constructing words with children using cut-out or magnetic letters introduces an element of fun into spelling.

Parents can also contribute to their child’s spelling development by actively participating in read-aloud sessions, and utilising different interactive methods.

Encouraging children to identify smaller words within larger ones is an effective technique to improve their spelling skills.

For instance, in the word ‘unhappiness’, children can identify:

  • ‘un’
  • ‘happy’
  • ‘i’
  • ‘ness’

Through the use of various resources, including past papers, revision techniques, and engaging practice methods and quizzes, parents can aid their child’s preparation for the KS2 SATs spelling test.

Encouraging Reading and Vocabulary Building

Reading and spelling are two sides of the same coin; they support and strengthen each other, leading to improved literacy. When children read familiar books repeatedly, they reinforce their recognition of letters and their understanding of vocabulary.

Picture books, where words are coupled with pictures, allow children to better associate visual elements with their spellings.

When children stumble upon new words during reading sessions, parents can encourage children by offering clarifications, enhancing the child’s comprehension and spelling abilities. This method not only expands their vocabulary but also refines their spelling acumen.

Helping with Homework and Test Preparation

Assisting with homework and test preparation necessitates an apt environment. Designating a specific, serene, and well-lit area at home can aid children in focusing on homework and studying for spelling tests.

Removing distractions such as television and video games from the study area can enhance concentration and lead to more effective test preparation.

Setting a specific time for homework and studying each day can help create a consistent routine, making spelling practice a regular part of the day.

Practice tests can be a useful tool for children to familiarize themselves with the test format and to identify areas that require further study. Parents can guide children in recognizing pattern mistakes and focusing on weaknesses.

Providing Resources and Guidance

Appropriate resources can substantially bolster a child’s spelling journey. For example, the Soundcheck booklet, a creation of the British Dyslexia Association, aids children with reading, spelling, and handwriting.

This resource can be a valuable addition to your child’s learning toolkit, providing them with the guidance they need to excel.

Parents can also use other resources such as spelling apps, online spelling games, and printable spelling worksheets. These resources can make learning fun and interactive, further enhancing your child’s spelling skills.


We’ve walked through the importance of the Year 6 SATs spelling test, essential spelling words, and effective strategies for learning and practising spelling. We’ve also discussed how parents can support their child’s spelling journey, by using diverse resources and engaging practice techniques.

With this knowledge, your child can be well-prepared to master their spelling test and excel in their Year 6 SATs.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Year 6 SATs spelling test is a component of the National Curriculum assessment. It evaluates students' ability to spell 20 words that are spoken by a teacher.

Commonly misspelt words in Year 6 include 'February', 'surprise', 'because', 'clothes', and 'frightened'. It's important to practice spelling these words regularly.

To help your child learn spelling effectively, use strategies like stair steps, prompt cards, look-cover-write-check, and mnemonic devices, along with regular review and reinforcement of spelling rules. These methods can greatly aid in your child's spelling development.

Creating a consistent routine, providing a conducive learning environment, and using resources like the Soundcheck booklet can support your child's spelling journey at home.

Additionally, engaging in spelling activities and participating in read-aloud sessions together can be beneficial.

Reading helps improve spelling skills by reinforcing letter recognition and contextual understanding of vocabulary, particularly when using familiar books and materials with pictures to associate visual elements with spellings.

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