BCS70 – Age 16 – BAS Matrices

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The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 16 sweep using the Matrices 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:Inductive, non-verbal reasoning
Measures:Non-verbal reasoning:
Non-verbal inductive reasoning, including identification of the rules governing variables in abstract figures, and formulation and testing of hypotheses about these rules
Use of verbal mediation strategies involving labelling of figures
Visuo-spatial analysis, including perception of shape, relative size and orientation
Low score:
Poor understanding of verbal instructions or visual cues
CHC:Gf (Fluid ability)
Administrative method:In schools (not included in the home version of the Education Pack); pen and paper.
Procedure:Each matrix was a square consisting of four or nine cells, with a blank cell in the lower right corner of each matrix. From five alternatives the child chose the design that correctly completes the matrix. There were six example items, three at the start of the exercise, then three examples when the level of difficulty increased. The child entered their choice of answer in the space provided on a separate 'Student Score Form'.
Duration: 7 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:11 items, 1 point for each correct choice, -1 not answered
Item-level variable(s):ANS_M1 - ANS_M11 (item selected)
SCR_M1 - SCR_M11 (1 = correct, 0 = wrong, -1 = not answered)
Total score/derived variable(s):SCR_M (total score)
Age of participants (months):Mean = 193.99, SD = 1.29, Range = 191 - 206 (N: 2458)
Descriptives:Raw score
N = 3,208
Range = 1 - 11
Mean = 8.86
SD = 1.67
(click image to enlarge)
Other sweep and/or cohort:BCS70 – Age 10 – BAS Matrices (but more items at age 10 (28 v 11) and different format (drawing v multi-choice))
ALSPAC – Age 15.5 – WASI Matrix Reasoning (similar)
Source:Elliott, C. D., Murray, D. J., & Pearson, L. S. (1979). British Ability Scales. Slough: National Foundation for Educational Research.
Elliott, C., Murray, D., and 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.
Seabrook, G., & Murphy, T. (2017). Reading and Matrices Tests BCS4 (1986), CLS Datanote. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
Reference examples: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.
Parsons, S., Green, F., Ploubidis, G. B., Sullivan, A., & Wiggins, R. D. (2017). The influence of private primary schooling on children's learning: Evidence from three generations of children living in the UK. British Educational Research Journal, 43(5), 823-847.

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