NCDS – Age 7 – Problem Arithmetic Test

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The 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 7 sweep using the Problem Arithmetic 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:Arithmetic (arithmetic problems)
Measures:Arithmetic
CHC:Gq (Quantitative Knowledge)
Administrative method:Teacher at school; face to face; self-completion. However, if necessary, each problem was read to the child if there was difficulty in reading the items.
Procedure:Ten arithmetic problems graded in level of difficulty. In order to avoid penalising the poor readers, the teachers were asked to read the problems to the children if necessary. The test was discontinued after three successive incorrect answers.
Duration: It was expected 60 - 90 minutes would be required for all 4 tests at age 7.
Link to questionnaire:https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/ncds1.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:One mark was awarded for each correct answer, giving a score between 0 and 10
Item-level variable(s):Not currently available
Total score/derived variable(s):N90
Age of participant (months):Mean = 85.11, SD = 1.56, Range = 82 - 93
Descriptives:Raw score
N = 14,897
Range = 0 - 10
Mean = 5.11
SD = 2.49
(click image to enlarge)
Other sweep and/or cohort:None
Source:The individual items were chosen in the main from a large number previously used by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), so that information was available on their facility values and it was possible to select those items which on a 7-year-old population would produce a normal distribution of scores.
Technical resources:Shepherd, P. Measures of ability at ages 7 to 16. National Child Development Study User Guide, 2012.
Pringle, M. K., Butler, N. & Davie, R. (1966). 11,000 Seven Year Olds. Longman, in association with National Children's Bureau
Reference examples:Feinstein, L. (2004). Mobility in pupils' cognitive attainment during school life. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 20(2), 213-229.
Case, A., & Paxson, C. (2008). Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes. Journal of Political Economy, 116(3), 499-532.
Sullivan, A. (2009). Academic self‐concept, gender and single‐sex schooling. British Educational Research Journal, 35(2), 259-288.

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