Research and analysis

2018 national curriculum test handbook

The NCT handbook contains information on the design, development and delivery of the 2018 key stage 1 (KS1) and key stage 2 (KS2) national curriculum tests.


National curriculum test handbook: 2018


The handbook provides an overview of the test design, test development and test administration processes used in the 2018 KS1 and KS2 tests in:

  • English reading
  • English grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • mathematics

It also presents validity and reliability evidence related to the tests.

This document is primarily for a technical audience. It is published for reasons of openness and transparency. It will be of interest to those who develop tests or are involved in assessment, including in schools.

The technical appendix contains data from the 2018 national curriculum test administrations, including:

  • details of item writing agencies
  • details of trialling agencies
  • dates and type of expert review panels, including participation numbers
  • dates and type of trialling, including the number of participating schools and pupils
  • dates of governance meetings
  • item metadata
  • test statistics
  • the numbers of test papers sent to schools
  • the number and type of modified test orders
  • the number and type of approved access arrangements applications
  • the number and type of access arrangement notifications
  • the number of approved special considerations applications
  • the number and type of modified test papers returned for marking
Published 20 December 2018