Phonics Screening Test

The Phonics Screening Test (otherwise known as the "Phonics Screening Check", "Year 1 Phonics Test" or simply "Phonics Test") is a short phonics assessment taken towards the end of Year 1, when children are aged between 5 and 6. Download all past Phonics Screening Tests for free.

Past Phonics Screening Tests

What is the Phonics Screening Test?

The Phonics Screening Test is a short assessment taken in the second week of June (during the summer term) at the end of Year 1. It is part of the national curriculum assessment programme and is used to measure how well children can read letters and sounds and decode written words using their phonics skills.

Children are expected to read aloud simple words 'one-to-one' to their teacher. Some of these words will be 'real words' and others will be 'alien words', 'nonsense words' or 'pseudo words' - made up words for pupils to demonstrate that they can use their phonics skills to decode unknown words. They are required to read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words.

In 2012, the Department for Education published the video below to help parents and teachers understand what the Phonics Screening Test entails:

The Phonics Screening Test has a threshold mark and hence children can fail it. If a child fails the Phonics Screening Test then they are required to take it again at the end of Year 2.

Children taking their phonics screening test
The Phonics Screening Test is compulsory.

2022 Phonics Test

The 2022 Phonics Test will take place at a time that's convenient to your child's school within the week commencing 6th June 2022.

Your child's teacher (or another close teacher) will carry out their test. The test will take place in a relaxed environment - don't worry, your child's schools will do all they can to not create any "test anxiety". There will not be an externally appointed examiner present.

Your child will sit with the teacher and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Some words will be simple and familiar, some will be more complex and some will be "non-words", "invalid words" or "alien words". A non-word is a fake word that's used soley to test a child's ability to use phonics.

For example:

  • Simple valid word : Chum, short.
  • Complex valid word : Feast, shape.
  • Non-word : Murbs, blard.

After all children nation-wide have completed their phonics screening test, a pass mark will be published. The pass mark for past tests is typically between 30-32 marks.

Due to the nature of the test, there is no formal time limit. Children can expect the phonics screening check to last around 10 minutes.

Children taking their phonics screening test
Download Phonics Screening Tests to help your child prepare for theirs.

How can I help my child?

Preparation. The Year 1 Phonics Screening simply asks them to read 40 words. Practice their reading daily - then they're practising for the test without even knowing it.

Download the Year one Phonics Tests above and go through a few tests with them. In one sitting they should (in the test scenario) be able to attempt all 40 words.

Patience and perseverance are crucial. Learning to read is a long and at times frustrating journey. It's crucial that you closely support your child.

If in doubt, calmly remind your child to:

  • Say each sound in the word from left to right.
  • Blend the sounds by pointing to each letter, e.g. b in bat, or igh in high.

Whilst supporting their attempts to read by:

  • Running your finger under the letters, letter combinations or the whole word as they (or you) say it.
  • Not rushing.
  • Being patient and positive.
  • Giving encouragement and praise.

If they're worrying about not doing well in the Year 1 Phonics Test, calmly remind them to simply try their hardest. Remember, persevere and be patient - reading cannot be learned overnight.


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