NCDS – Age 16 – Reading Comprehension Test

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The 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 16 sweep using the Reading Comprehension Test.

Details on this measure (devised by the National Foundation for Educational Research) and the data collected from the CMs are outlined in the table below.


Domain:Verbal (reading)
Measures:Reading comprehension
CHC:Gc (Crystallised)
Grw (Reading/Writing)
Administrative method:Teacher at school; individually face to face; pen and paper
Procedure:The test consisted of 35 sentences. Before the test was administered the child was shown two examples which the child and teacher completed together. The child was required to read a sentence and choose from a selection of 5 words the most appropriate to complete the sentence. From the list, the child was required to underline the missing item which completed the sentence. The test was conducted under timed conditions and within time-limit.
Duration: 10 minutes
Link to questionnaire:No direct link to pdf. Information can be found in the file ‘ncds3_1974_questionnaires_and_codebook.pdf’ which accompanies data download from UK Data Service website.
Scoring:35 items. Each correct answer receives one mark. The total of possible marks for the test is 35.
Item-level variable(s):Not currently available
Total score/derived variable(s):n2928
Age of participant (months):Mean = 192.52, SD = 1.36, Range = 190 - 201
Descriptives:Raw score
N = 11,986
Range = 0 - 35
Mean = 25.31
SD = 7.09
(click image to enlarge)
Other sweep and/or cohort:NCDS – Age 11 – Reading Comprehension Test
NSHD – Age 8 – Reading Comprehension
NSHD – Age 15 – The Watts-Vernon Reading Test
NSHD – Age 26 – The Watts-Vernon Reading Test
Source:Used in NCDS age 11: Constructed by NFER specifically for use in the NCDS. The test was designed to parallel the Watts-Vernon test of reading ability (Watts-Vernon, 1947).
Technical resources:Shepherd, P. Measures of ability at ages 7 to 16. National Child Development Study User Guide, 2012.
Reference examples:Goodman, A., & Sianesi, B. (2005). Early education and children's outcomes: how long do the impacts last? Fiscal Studies, 26(4), 513-548.
Power, C., Li, L., & Hertzman, C. (2008). Cognitive development and cortisol patterns in mid-life: findings from a British birth cohort. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33(4), 530-539.

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