NSHD – Age 15 – The Watts-Vernon Reading Test

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The MRC National Survey of Health of Development (NSHD) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 15 sweep using the Watts-Vernon Reading Test.

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


Domain:Verbal (reading)
Measures:Word comprehension/lexical knowledge
Reading comprehension
Reading decoding
CHC:Gc (Crystallized Intelligence)
Grw (Reading/Writing)
Administration method:Teacher; face to face; pen and paper
Procedure:Participants were presented with a list of 35 sentence, and were asked to underline the correct word (from 5 different options) to complete each sentence, e.g. "You can buy stamps at a post (station, house, shop, man, office)". The total time of administration was approximately 15 minutes (10 minutes working time).
Link to questionnaire:https://skylark.ucl.ac.uk/NSHD/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=questionnaires:1961_sm_nf4.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:One mark for each correct sentence (0 - 35)
Item-level variable(s):Not currently available
Total score/derived variable(s):R15R, R15R61, R1561, R15N
Descriptives:Raw scoreNormalised score
N = 4,018N = 4,015
Range = 0 - 36Range = 55 - 138
Mean = 24.47Mean = 102.24
SD = 6.66SD = 15.12
(click image to enlarge)
(click image to enlarge)
Age of participants (months):Mean = 174.54, SD = 2.12, Range = 172 - 182
Other sweep and/or cohort:NSHD – Age 8 – Reading Comprehension
NSHD – Age 26 – The Watts-Vernon Reading Test
NCDS – Age 11 – Reading Comprehension Test
NCDS – Age 16 – Reading Comprehension Test
Source:Ministry of Education (1950). Reading Ability. London: HMSO
Technical resources:Pigeon DA. Details of the fifteen years tests. In: Douglas JWB, Ross JM, Simpson HR, eds. All Our Future. London: Davies, 1968; Appendix 1.
Reference examples:Richards, M., Shipley, B., Fuhrer, R., & Wadsworth, M. E. (2004). Cognitive ability in childhood and cognitive decline in mid-life: longitudinal birth cohort study. BMJ, 328(7439), 552.
Cooper, R., Richards, M., & Kuh, D. (2017). Childhood cognitive ability and age-related changes in physical capability from midlife: Findings from a British birth cohort study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 79(7), 785.

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