Key stage 2 tests: guide to registering pupils for the tests

Information for primary schools on how to submit details of pupils who are eligible for KS2 national curriculum tests (commonly called SATs) in 2018.

This guidance will be updated for the 2019 test cycle in February 2019.

Schools must use the ‘Pupil registration’ section of NCA tools to register and confirm all of their pupils who are eligible for the 2018 key stage 2 (KS2) national curriculum tests.

The deadline for registering pupils for KS2 tests is Friday 16 March 2018.

This guidance will help you complete pupil registration correctly. Specific instructions, which aren’t reproduced here, are provided in the ‘Pupil registration’ section of NCA tools about:

  • registering pupils, including those working below the standard of the tests
  • amending/updating pupils’ details, including the tests that they’ve been registered for
  • adding/removing pupils

Section 5.2 of the 2018 KS2 assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA) includes general guidance about registering pupils for the tests.

Pupil registration requirements

All schools must complete pupil registration for the KS2 tests. This means logging into NCA tools to:

  • confirm that all pupils are registered and that each pupil’s details are complete and accurate
  • indicate which pupils are working below the standard of, or are unable to access, one or more tests
  • provide details of any pupils who are taking all the tests in the future, have taken them in the past or have left the school

Once you have checked your details you must tick the confirmation box. If you make additional changes to your data, you must reconfirm them.

The ‘Pupil registration’ section of NCA tools remains open after Friday 16 March. You should amend the data in this section to reflect any pupils that leave or join your school after this date until the end of test week. This includes pupils whose performance in relation to the national curriculum programmes of study cannot be established because they have just arrived in school.

If a pupil’s situation changes you should amend the attendance register to show this. Full instructions will be provided in the Attendance register and test script dispatch instructions. This guidance will be in your school’s stationery pack and also published on GOV.UK in March.

Maintained schools, including special schools, academies and pupil referral units

If you submitted your school’s census data to the Department for Education (DfE) by 14 February 2018, your pupil list will have been uploaded to the ‘Confirm pupils’ page in the ‘Pupil registration’ section of NCA tools. You need to check that this data is still accurate, up to date and matches the information held within your management information system (MIS).

If any of a pupil’s details are incorrect, you should amend them in the ‘Pupil registration’ section of NCA tools. This is to make sure that when you submit teacher assessment data later in the test cycle, it matches the data already held. It also ensures that when we return results data to your school it matches the pupil data held in your MIS.

Your NCA tools data won’t be pre-populated if you:

  • are a pupil referral unit (PRU)
  • are a non-maintained special school which didn’t place a test order by Friday 24 November (the test orders deadline)
  • missed the DfE’s census data deadline

In these cases, you will need to upload your pupil data using the ‘Upload multiple pupils’ page of NCA tools.

Independent schools

You will only be able to register pupils for the tests if you ordered materials by 24 November 2017 (the test orders deadline).

You must complete ‘Pupil registration’ by Friday 16 March in order to participate in 2018 KS2 tests. If you don’t complete pupil registration by the deadline, your school will not be able to take part in the tests.

Make sure you understand the general requirements that apply to all schools when registering pupils. In addition, you will need to upload your pupil data using the ‘Upload multiple pupils’ page of NCA tools.

If your school placed a test order but then opted out of an entire subject, the subject box will not be displayed. To opt back in:

  • click on the ‘Pupils’ subject participation’ hyperlink on the ‘Confirm pupils’ page
  • or select ‘Pupils’ subject participation’ from the left-hand menu, from where you can re-select the subject

Pupils working below the standard of the tests

You should register all pupils who will complete the KS2 programmes of study in the 2017 to 2018 academic year, even if they are working below the standard of the tests. You should register these pupils as ‘B’. For example, if a pupil is unable to communicate in English, they will be working below the standard of the English tests and so should be registered as ‘B’.

Pupils using access arrangements

You should register pupils who use access arrangements for the tests in the same way as pupils who aren’t using access arrangements.

Registering pupils with English as an additional language

All pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) should be registered for the KS2 tests, regardless of whether they go on to take them.

For the mathematics tests, you may be able to make a translation to enable the pupil to take part. See section 9 of the KS2 access arrangements guidance.

Getting help

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.


Call the national curriculum assessments helpline 0300 303 3013.

Published 18 February 2015
Last updated 19 February 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated for the 2018 test cycle.
  2. Updated for the 2017 test cycle.
  3. Updated to reflect 2016 dates and guidance.
  4. First published.