What is the Phonics Screening Test?
The Phonics Screening Check is a short test where children in Year 1 read words aloud.
Children sit in a one-to-one setting with their teacher and are asked to read aloud exactly 40 words to demonstrate their phonics skills. Children use their phonics knowledge to read each word, decoding its word structures using the phonics skills they have learned throughout Reception and Year 1.
Half of the words are real words but the other half are 'alien' words (sometimes called 'pseudo words' or 'nonsense words'). These unfamiliar words have been made-up to ensure children are using their decoding skills rather than their existing vocabulary.
The Phonics Screening Test exists to monitor phonics teaching within schools and the level of early literacy attainment among children is recorded.
Below are two example words from the 2019 Phonics Screening Check:
The word 'fusp' is an alien word (or nonsense word) and the word 'shop' is a real word. To help avoid children misreading alien words as similar-looking real words, each alien word is marked with a picture of a friendly alien.
The Phonics Screening Test is split into two sections. Section 1 is the easier part and contains 20 words - 12 alien words and 8 real words. Section 2 is the harder part and its 20 words are split into 8 alien words and 12 real words.
The Phonics Assessment held in Year 1 of primary schools throughout England has no formal time limit but it normally takes around 10 minutes to complete.
The Phonics Screening Test has a pass mark (also known as threshold mark) and hence children can fail it. If a child fails their Phonics Test then they are required 're-sit' it at the end of Year 2.
To help schools prepare for the 2012 Phonics Screening Test, the Department for Education published a phonic screening video to help parents and teachers understand what the Phonics Screening Test entails:
Phonics Screening Test Past Papers
Below are all the Phonics Screening Test past papers. Use these example phonics screening check past papers to help prepare your child for their phonics test. Make sure you click on the year of each paper to obtain full access to audio downloads, word lists and PowerPoint presentations.
Use past Key Stage 1 Phonics Test words as practice words to help prepare your child for their KS1 phonics test.
|Year||Practice Materials||Assessment Materials||Answer Sheet||Scoring Guidance||Word List||PowerPoint|
What is the Phonics Screening Test Pass Mark?
Since the first Phonics Screening Test in the 2012 Phonics Screening Test, the pass mark has always been 32 out of 40. This means that children had to read at least 32 words out of 40 correctly to pass.
Children that don't reach the pass mark are required to take it again at the end of Year 2.
What date is the Phonics Screening Test?
Is the Phonics Screening Test compulsory?
Yes, all pupils in England who have reached the age of 6 by the end of the school year (i.e. Year 1) must take the national Phonics Screening Test during that academic year. Further to this, pupils who will have reached the age of 7 by the end of the academic year (i.e. Year 2) and who have not taken the test before (or who did not meet the expected standard in their previous test) must also take the test.
If children are absent during the planned test week then the school is allowed to administer the test in the following week. If a child remains absent then the child is recorded as absent in their results.
There are some exceptions to this and for further information parents should check the official guidance.
How do you pass the Phonics Screening Test?
To pass the Phonics Screening Test, children have to read at least 32 words out of 40 correctly to their teacher.
Here is Exam Ninja's recommendations to help ensure your child passes their Phonics Screening Test:
- Preparation. The Year 1 Phonics Screening simply asks children to read 40 words. Practice their reading skills 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. Experience of phonics testing will help 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 your child is worrying about not doing well in their Year 1 Phonics Test, calmly remind them to simply try their hardest. Remember, persevere and be patient - early literacy and confident reading cannot be mastered overnight.