BCS70 – Age 10 – BAS Word Similarities

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The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 10 sweep using the Word Similarities measure from the British Ability Scales (BAS).

Details on this measure and the data collected from the CMs are outlined in the table below.


Domain:Verbal (reasoning)
Measures:(Acquired) verbal knowledge and verbal reasoning:
Verbal reasoning ability
Expressive language skills, including verbal fluency
Vocabulary knowledge
General knowledge
Abstract and logical thinking
Ability to distinguish between essential and superficial features
CHC:Gc (Crystallised ability)
Administrative method:In schools; pen and paper
Procedure:The test consisted of 21 items made up of 3 words e.g. orange, banana, strawberry. The teacher read the three words and asked the child to name another word consistent with the group i.e. another type of fruit. The child then had to say what the words had in common i.e. they are all fruits. When the child was unable to name a group example and name on four successive attempts the test was stopped.
Duration: Total 30 minutes for 4 BAS tests
Link to questionnaire:https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/British-ability-scales-annotated.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:1 point for every group example and group name, but no points if only one was correct, giving a maximum score of 21.
Item-level variable(s):i3575 - i3616 (item response)
i4201 - i4221 (group and name correct)
Total score/derived variable(s):None
Age of participants (months):Mean = 121.88, SD = 2.67, Range = 117 - 139
Descriptives:Raw score
N = 11,482
Range = 0 - 20
Mean = 12.06
SD = 2.61
(click image to enlarge)
Other sweep and/or cohort:MCS – Age 11 – BAS II Verbal Similarities (verbal similarities but MCS5 revised version i.e. BAS II)
ALSPAC – Age 4 – WPPSI-RUK Similarities (both verbal and picture similarities)
ALSPAC – Age 8.5 – WISC-III Similarities (verbal similarities asked slightly differently)
Source:Elliott, C. D., Murray, D. J., & Pearson, L. S. (1979). British Ability Scales. Slough: National Foundation for Educational Research.
Elliott, C., Murray, D., & Pearson, L. (1978). British Ability Scales. Windsor: National Foundation for Educational Research.
Technical resources:Parsons, S. (2014). Childhood cognition in the 1970 British Cohort Study, CLS Working Paper. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
Reference examples:Case, A., & Paxson, C. (2008). Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes. Journal of Political Economy, 116(3), 499-532.
Gregg, P., & Macmillan, L. (2010). Family income, education and cognitive ability in the next generation: exploring income gradients in education and test scores for current cohorts of youth. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 1(3), 259-280.
Sturgis, P., Read, S., & Allum, N. (2010). Does intelligence foster generalized trust? An empirical test using the UK birth cohort studies. Intelligence, 38(1), 45-54.

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This page is part of CLOSER’s ‘A guide to the cognitive measures in five British birth cohort studies’.