BCS70 – Age 10 – BAS Word Definition

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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 Definition 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 knowledge (acquired and expressive)
Measures:Verbal ability:
Vocabulary knowledge
Expressive language skills, including verbal fluency
General knowledge
Verbal conceptualisation
Abstract thinking
Retrieval of information from long-term memory
Level of language stimulation
(may depend on experience as well as education)
Low scores may be generally attributable to:
Poor verbal development
Disadvantaged environmental circumstances
CHC:Gc (Crystallised intelligence)
Administrative method:In schools; pen and paper
Procedure:For each item on the scale, a word was orally presented to the child who was asked what the word meant. Items were scored as correct or incorrect according to whether or not the child expressed key concepts of the word's meaning. The assessment was stopped after four successive incorrect or partially incorrect words.
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:37 items, the child received 1 point for each correct answer
Item-level variable(s):i3504 - i3540
Total score/derived variable(s):None
Age of participants (months):Mean = 121.88, SD = 2.67, Range = 117 - 139
Descriptives:Raw score
N = 11,526
Range = 0 - 32
Mean = 10.13
SD = 5.01
(click image to enlarge)
Other sweep and/or cohort:NSHD – Age 8 – Vocabulary
NSHD – Age 11 – Vocabulary
ALSPAC – Age 8.5 – WISC-III Vocabulary
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:Bennett, K. E., & Haggard, M. P. (1999). Behaviour and cognitive outcomes from middle ear disease. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 80(1), 28-35.
Connelly, R., & Gayle, V. (2019). An investigation of social class inequalities in general cognitive ability in two British birth cohorts. The British Journal of Sociology, 70(1), 90-108.

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