BCS70 – Age 16 – APU Arithmetic Test

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The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 16 sweep using the Applied Psychology Unit (APU) Arithmetic Test.

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


Domain:General arithmetic achievement
Measures:General arithmetic attainment (and not aptitude). Designed to test arithmetic concepts through calculation. Covers evaluation of arithmetic expressions, knowledge of proportion, percentage, estimation of area and simple probability. It tests the ability to reproduce and therefore the aptitude to learning arithmetic processes.
CHC:Gq (Quantitative Knowledge)
Administrative method:In school; pen and paper
(Not included in the home version of the Education Pack)
Procedure:Multiple-choice: each question had five possible answers, only one of which was correct. The test gets progressively harder, starting with simple addition, multiplication, division and subtraction questions and ending with more complex mathematical calculations and problems to solve.
Duration: 30 minutes
Link to questionnaire:https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/BCS70-16-year-Document-B.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:60 items, 1 point for each correct response
Item-level variable(s):car1 - car60 (original response)
carx1 - carx60 (individual derived)
Total score/derived variable(s):mathscore (raw total)
mathincorrect (number incorrect)
mathanswered (number attempted)
Age of participants (months):Mean = 194.04, SD = 1.45, Range = 191 - 206
Descriptives:Raw score
N = 3,677
Range = 0 - 60
Mean = 36.77
SD = 11.82
(click image to enlarge)
Other sweep and/or cohort:None
Source:Closs, S. J. & Hutchings, M. J. (1976). APU arithmetic test. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Technical resources:Dodgeon, B. (2008). Guide to the Dataset: BCS70 16 year follow up: APU arithmetic test. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
Levy, P. & Goldstein, H. (1984). Tests in Education: a book of critical reviews. London: Academic Press.
Parsons, S. (2014). Childhood cognition in the 1970 British Cohort Study, CLS Working Paper. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
Reference examples:Siegler, R. S., Duncan, G. J., Davis-Kean, P. E., Duckworth, K., Claessens, A., Engel, M., ... & Chen, M. (2012). Early predictors of high school mathematics achievement. Psychological Science, 23(7), 691-697.
Sullivan, A., Parsons, S., Wiggins, R., Heath, A., & Green, F. (2014). Social origins, school type and higher education destinations. Oxford Review of Education, 40(6), 739-763.

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