Help your child pass the tests.
Phonics Test, PM Benchmarking

Past tests 2017 2018 2019 

Please warn them not to think about all options for 'nonsense' words, and ensure that they understand many words will not be 'real'

Login to the Member's Area and download the PM Level 1- 10 High-Frequency
Word Booklet. Use with the Video as shown here. At first they will watch and
just use Duck Hands, but will then start to write along with the video when ready.  

The NEW PM Level 1 - 9 workbook, 10 - 15 and 16 - 20 will be in the new
Pass the Test Section. They will boost your child's skills, and complement the
activities their teacher is (hopefully) undertaking in class.



Also access the Phonics Test resources. Regardless of the words given in the new Phonics Screening Test (UK government), your child will more easily decode at least 32 out of the 40 the real and nonsense words. They will learn to recognise and blend these graphemes. 


A message to parents about these ‘Pass the Test’ resources for subscribers.

Yes, the ideal scenario is that children are not tested on their understanding of multiplication when still adding single-digit numbers together using their fingers. When children are ‘benchmarked’ it is the same concept. They are being tested on something that can’t do unless they guess or memorise the answers. The ideal learning environment is one in which they develop phonemic awareness, are introduced to a set of graphemes to then use that phonemic awareness to segment, blend and manipulate phonemes with graphemes. They learn encoding and decoding skills. Within a matter of days, they can use these in sentences, with just a few high-frequency words (also Code Mapped ie the phonemes are mapped to the graphemes. No words are every introduced as ‘whole words’ just as a baker isn’t given a cake; he or she is given ingredients to make the cake. What would be the point of giving him a cake, if he wants to learn how it is made? So within the first 3 weeks children can read, write and spell words in sentences (see the Green Code Level activities, using s a t p i n and the first ten Duck Level (high frequency) words)

High frequency words are essential within explicit phonics instruction. Each Speech Sound (phoneme) Monster let's them know HOW to say the Sound Pics (graphemes) We call these words our 'Duck Level' words.


After years of tracking data we can see that by the time they reach the end of the SSP Yellow Code Level they can actually READ at about a PM Level 10. They do not need to be tested 1 – 10, but note that they can pass all at the same time. Please also note that reading is easier than spelling. They may be able to read that text, but not write those sentences as easily.

Unfortunately, many schools force teachers to benchmark children before they reach that Code Level. The children have to guess or memorise at words they cannot segment. They take their eyes off the text to try to use intelligent guesses from the pictures, or the preceding sentence. However with these resources they have covered enough of the code to actually keep their eyes on the texts and decode the words. So it is like us knowing the child has to bake a really complex cake. We show them the cake, and work backwards, so that when we then ask them to bake the cake on their own, they stand more of a chance!

We teach high frequency graphemes in a certain order- so that they develop skills. In this case we are teaching high frequency words so that they develop the skills needed to benchmark. In an idea scenario they don’t need to use ‘reading levels’ however I have fought this for years, then looked at it realistically and figured out how to help children REGARDLESS of the systems in place. They can’t wait for the system to change, and it is unfair to let them fail something they have not been taught to do. So while being benchmarked, I will show you WHICH cakes they are going to have to bake.

Wow, these metaphors are making me hungry😊

If you watched the Passing the Test video on this page you’ll see that the resources are no more ‘teaching to the test’ than teaching a basic phonics program and then using the Uk phonics test.
We are assessing their graphemes recognition and application in a specific, systematic order. This allows parents and teachers to assess their recognition and application of high frequency words, which have at least one grapheme not covered in that order of graphemes. For example the letter e is taught within a basic phonics program but not /ai/ or the other 8 graphemes for that phoneme?! How would they read ‘The leopard has many friends in the leisure centre’ said Fred. When faced with F&P etc texts they can’t then actually decode all words.

Make sure your child’s teacher has a Speech Sound Wall! Send them to if not if they are in the UK or Europe, or the online shop if in Australia. 

For over ten years I’ve been showing schools how to segment all words and realise how much of the code their phonics programs don’t explicitly teach, and why they will struggle to actually benchmark without ‘three cueing’. Some schools are ONLY using ‘decodable readers’ now, so the kids will only see those limited number of graphemes. Do they think all kids can learn that way? Of course not.

The lack of awareness is why many people think it’s ‘normal’ to need more than 2 academic years for a child to learn to read. Only because of the instruction! (unless there is an II) So I’m showing parents how to give their kids what many aren’t getting in class. If a child isn’t able to read a PM15 at the end of prep (unless there is an intellectual impairment) then it’s the instruction that needed to change. Parents can fill the gaps. Many teachers have their hands tied.

For example, many teachers are being told to benchmark before children are ready. My resources mean they are ready as they can actually READ them. SSP teachers stop at PM25 in prep/ reception because ‘reading’ is the goal, and the text needs to be relevant and interesting to 5 year olds. For some reason these ‘levelled’ books are written by people who don’t EXPECT children to be actually reading by the time they’re 6. It’s nuts!

So what I’m actually helping parents to do is to ensure that kids can read, in spite of what many schools are doing. Yes, children can then benchmark and feel great about themselves, but what this really means is that they can learn to read at that 'level' in spite of what they aren’t getting in class.

It’s also along the lines of why we send 85% of our kids in the Steps to Reading playgroup to school reading (and will benchmark PM15+ ) I am exhausted with trying to change the system and am therefore really focussed now on supporting parents. They can then understand the things that block kids, and share that with others. Empowered parents can be unstoppable. ‘Empowered teachers’, in the current education system, is perhaps an oxymoron.


Miss Emma
BEd Hons. MA Special Educational Needs. Doctoral Student.
New ‘I can read without you’ program. My ‘Steps to Reading’ Early Years program delivered online!


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The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach. Wiring Brains® for Literacy. Code Mapping® and Monster Mapping®
Build a Speech Sound Wall with the SSP Spelling Clouds