Top critical review
27 people found this helpful
Flawed in many respects
on 19 May 2013
I bought this book on the basis of previous 5 star reviews, but feel I should warn others thinking of buying the book themselves, about a number of flaws it contains. I am the parent of a child currently sitting KS1 SATS and of 2 others who have done so in previous years, and also a teacher and examiner as well, and so maybe spotted flaws that would not have been so obvious to those with less experience of the exams.
I particularly disliked:
1. The fact that the 'separate' papers are all in one book. Unlike other similar sample paper packs I have used previously, this does not consist of several separate papers in a cardboard folder, but one large book with lots of papers in it. This means it is quite a thick book - very hard to photocopy if you wish to repeat a test or re-use the material with another child, as it is not not spiral-bound either. It also makes the book quite intimidating-looking to a young child; a collection of separate, thin papers in the different subjects at different levels would have looked more like the real exam papers they have to do in class, and would have been more user-friendly.
2. The use of colour. All previous papers I've used made by other companies have just been in black and white,with maybe a thin band of a single colour round the edge at most. This uses incredibly bright full-colour illustrations UNDERNEATH THE TEXTS the children have to read for the reading comprehensions!! Clearly this book was designed by someone with no experience of teaching children or of how to create appropriate testing materials. As an adult with perfect vision, advanced reading skills and no dyslexia, I found it a strain to make out the words against the multi-colour backgrounds (including a pattern of random coloured dots on some pages, for no apparent reason than to make the images even more 'cheerful' and loud than they are already). Any child who suffered from dyslexia, or just found reading hard (because they were only 6 or 7 years old, for example), would really struggle with this book. It also means photocopying the book is totally impractical, if you wish to repeat a test, for example, or don't want your child to write directly on the page.
3. Poorly thought-out layouts. Again, the book does not seem to have been designed by people with any understanding of how to make it suitable for use. So the instructions for the maths test - which the parent (or teacher) needs to read out loud to the children, is printed on the back of the sheet where the child has to write their name. But to be usable, it then needs to be torn out - so the child can't then write their name there. Or the comprehension texts - these have been split up into small sections with questions on just that section underneath. But this makes it very hard for the child to read the texts all the way through, and is also unlike the layout they will actually encounter in the exam, where the text is a single, uninterrupted passage with questions afterwards.
4. Biased/politically correct characters and subjects. Of the reading texts, 2 out of 3 were so biased towards girls (not only in topic but also in design - pink backgrounds, etc), that there is no way my son would read them. If a book is aimed towards all children, the texts should appeal to both genders as much as possible. Also in one very confusing text, two 'sisters' were shown, one clearly Asian with an Asian name and one clearly white English with a white English name. The aim may have been to be inclusive but I would imagine it would confuse most children, Asian ones included, as they do not look like sisters - no reason why they couldn't be friends.
It's a shame as I own another, older set of Letts KS1 papers that my eldest child used about 6 years ago and these had none of these flaws; if you can get hold of those, I'd use those instead. The maths papers in this book seem OK (apart from the problem with the lack of pull-out sheets for the adult to read the instructions from, as above), but you can buy these separately and more cheaply, if you must buy a Letts product.
Personally, I'd look at other brands or free online resources, as I was not impressed with this book.