NTS Assessments, PiRA and PUMA: What are the differences?


After talking and listening to teachers, like you, about how we can help to make your life a little easier whilst providing insightful performance and progress data and familiarising pupils with the SATs, we are very pleased to launch NTS Assessments: our brand new termly, standardised, National Test-style progress tests for Years 1 to 6. As excitement builds for NTS Assessments (National Test-style Standardised Assessments), many of you are asking about the differences between these new papers and our popular existing standardised tests: PiRA and PUMA. We’ve written this article to help answer your questions.

What are the similarities between NTS Assessments, PiRA and PUMA?

NTS Assessments, PiRA and PUMA are all standardised termly progress tests written to the 2014 National Curriculum. With all suites, you can use gap analysis to inform teaching and learning and track progress using standardised scores, age-standardised scores, maths ages, reading ages and the Hodder Scale score. What’s more, you can predict future performance and benchmark against national averages. Even better, all tests come with free access to MARK, our online assessment and reporting tool.

What are the differences between NTS Assessments, PiRA and PUMA?

PiRA and PUMA have been developed to assess progress in curriculum learning and do so effectively with a single paper per term. NTS Assessments also serve this purpose, but have been written by SATs authors to the National Test framework. This means that every individual booklet reflects the look and feel of the SATs exactly and are ideal for familiarising children with this style of assessment. This is the key difference both in the purpose of the tests, and how they look.

You may wish to administer your assessments interactively: PiRA and PUMA offer this option, with auto-marking to save you time. NTS Assessments, on the other hand, are not available online. They come in paper format only. This is because one of their key purposes is to reflect the SATs papers.

It’s your decision!

We know that many customers will value this termly exposure to SATs-style content, but equally appreciate that a close reflection of National Test-style is not crucial for everyone. By publishing both of these sets of assessments, we are providing you with a choice and enabling you to access whichever style of paper works best for your school and, crucially, your pupils.


Feature of PiRA and PUMA Feature of NTS Assessments
Format (all supported by MARK, our free online assessment and reporting tool) Available in print or digital format with auto-marking Available in print format only, to reflect the National Tests
Content and test frameworks Reflects the content of the national curriculum and National Tests Reflects the content and style of the National Tests, with all questions written to the National Test frameworks
Purpose Ideal for schools looking for pupil-friendly tests that provide high-quality termly analysis and tracking Ideal for schools looking for pupil-friendly tests that are slightly more demanding and increase preparation for National Tests, with high-quality termly analysis and tracking
Mark schemes In-depth, slightly shorter, easy-to-use mark schemes In-depth, slightly longer, easy-to-use mark schemes, written in the style of the National Tests marking guidance
School type Ideal for all-through schools, as both primary and secondary tests are available Ideal for use in primary schools only
Ages Tests from Reception to Year 9 Tests from Year 1 to Year 6
Booklet structure All elements of each test are provided in one booklet per term (all reading texts can be pulled out of the middle of the booklet) Test papers reflect the National Test structure with separate reading booklets, separate reasoning / arithmetic booklets and separate KS1 paper booklets
Written by trusted    experts Written by experienced curriculum experts and trusted by thousands of schools, now in their 2nd and 3rd editions Written by experts in National Test development, with experience teaching, writing and marking the SATs


Find out more about NTS Assessments or speak to one of our customer representatives

KS2 Assessment and Reporting Arrangements

On 15th October 2018, the DfE announced the removal of KS2 teacher assessment judgements for English reading and mathematics and revised science teacher assessment frameworks.


Removal of teacher assessment for English reading and mathematics

The DfE state that this change has been made in response to the public consultation on Primary Assessment in 2017, and aims to reduce assessment burdens on schools. Test results in English reading and mathematics will continue to be used in school performance measures.

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2018 National curriculum assessments at KS2

On 4th September 2018, the DfE published provisional attainment statistics for the 2018 KS2 national curriculum assessments.

Summary of the 2018 KS2 national curriculum assessments:

  • This year, 64% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, compared to 61% in 2017.
  • Attainment at the expected standard has increased across all subjects.
    • 75% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading.
    • 76% of pupils reached the expected standard in maths.
    • 78% of pupils reached the expected standard in grammar, punctuation and spelling. Continue reading →

New Pre-key Stage Standards: What schools need to know

Thanks to Sarah Minty, Commissioning Editor for SEN at RS Assessment from Hodder Education, for the following article.

Following a government consultation on the Rochford Review, the pre-key stage standards, which have been in place for 2017/2018, are now final, after a review by teachers and other educational experts.

From summer 2019, teachers must use these pre-key stage standards to make statutory assessment judgements at the end of KS1 and KS2, for any pupils who are working below the national curriculum teacher assessment frameworks and above P scale 4. Continue reading →

KS2 National Test Results 2018

On 10th July 2018, the DfE published the results of the 2018 Key Stage 2 National Tests.

Summary of the 2018 results

  • 64% of pupils reached the expected standard in all of reading, writing and maths (combined).  This has increased from last year but remains below the floor standard of 65%.
  • The raw scores required to reach the expected standard have increased for all subjects.  The largest increase can be seen in maths, increasing from 57 in 2017 to 61 this year.
  • The average scaled score in reading has increased, while the scaled score in maths and GPS remains the same as last year.

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Multiplication tables check: update

On 9th July 2018, the DfE released an update on the development of the multiplication tables check (MTC).

About the MTC

  • Between 10th June – 28th June 2019 a national voluntary pilot will be run to allow schools to familiarise themselves with the check before  it becomes statutory in June 2020.
  • Schools will have a 3- week window to administer the tests, and teachers have the flexibility to check individual children, small groups or a whole class at the same time.

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Planned changes to accountability and why standardisation is more important than ever

James Pembroke is back with another blog, and this time he’s talking all about the planned changes to accountability and why this means that standardisation is more important than ever!

Standardisation_assessmentFor as long as most of us can remember, the progress of pupils in primary schools has been measured from Key Stage 1. Prior to 2016 we had a mixed economy of a levels of progress measure – where making two levels of progress across Key Stage 2 was defined as ‘expected’ – and a value added (VA) measure, in which each pupil’s score at key stage 2 was compared to the national average score of pupils with similar Key Stage 1 prior attainment. This dual approach to measuring progress was confusing because the two measures did not relate to one another. In fact, they were often at odds, and it was entirely feasible for a school to have all pupils make the expected progress of two levels and yet end up with a VA score that was significantly below average. Something had to give.

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What does scrunched up formative assessment look like?

Attacking a question in this way makes the learning more active and enables children to view assessment as an exciting experience that can help them progress.

Thanks to John Dabell for the following article.

Have you ever tried scrunched up or crumpled assessment before?

This is a tried and tested strategy for self, peer and whole-class assessment and gives children the chance to make their ideas visible in an active and exciting context. It facilitates knowledge and understanding upgrades and helps the class to work as a team of learners.

Crumpled assessment is a very engaging way to get a snapshot of the ideas and explanations children hold and you can use the information to design and provide targeted learning opportunities for conceptual change.

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2018 Key Stage 1 Scaled Score Conversion Tables

On 1st June 2018, the DfE released the scaled score conversion tables for the 2018 KS1 national tests.

Range of scaled scores

The range of scaled scores available is the same as set in 2016.  Pupils scoring at least 100 will have met the expected standard and a pupil awarded a score of 99 or fewer has not met the expected standard.

  • The lowest scaled score that can be awarded is 85
  • The highest scaled score that can be awarded is 115

Continue reading →