Nonsense Sign Repetition Test

What is it?

The NSRT is an assessment of nonsense sign repetition in children. It was designed to be similar to non-word repetition tests in spoken English. The non signs are manipulated with regards to their phonological complexity in terms of handshape and movement.

This methodology makes it possible to investigate the perception, retention and production of novel phonological forms in children who use sign languages.

What is involved?

The NSRT involves watching and repeating nonsense signs. It is video repetition task where the child sees a video of a nonsense sign and has to copy it exactly.

The NSRT is easy to administer and provides a snapshot of the child’s ability to process and produce new signs. It has been specifically designed to be suitable for use with deaf children. This is a 20 minute test. Respondents watch and copy 40 video clips of BSL nonsense signs produced by an adult native deaf signer. Each item is presented only once. The 40 items are shown in blocks of 10 items, with a short break between each block during which the child is shown a short cartoon.

All instructions are in British Sign Language. Two versions of the test are provided, an original version and a parallel version for use when repeating the test with the same child. This helps to maintain interest and reduce the effect of practice

A webcam is required to record the child's responses. The practitioner evaluates the test responses and enters the scores on downloaded score sheet. A manual is provided to enable score interpretation. No test report is generated for this test. With younger children it is advisable that the practitioner controls the play button to start the video clips.

Who is it suitable for?

Children aged 3 -11 years

What normative data is available?

Deaf children acquiring BSL as a first language aged 3-11 years

Who should use this test?

  • Practitioners
  • Researchers
  • BSL teachers for students to practice good quality of movement

Insert sample report

Test citation

Mann, W., Marshall, C., Mason, K., & Morgan, G. (2010). The acquisition of sign language: The interplay between phonology and phonetics. Language and Learning Development, 8, 60-86. doi: 10.1080/15475440903245951. Download Paper

Scoring from video

Use 'Review' mode to score video responses. The test report can be downloaded once all scores are entered.



Data is generated in CSV format for easy import into your preferred data management software

Task data


A separate CSV file is generated for each participant. Each contains the raw data including the order in which the items were presented, the correct answer for each item, the answer chosen by the participant, the accuracy score (1 or 0) for each item.

Accuracy data

One mark is awarded for each correct answer. The overall maximum score is 40. Items differ in terms of phonological complexity along two parameters: handshape and movement. Items are scored according to: 1) Accuracy of overall response 2) handshape errors 3) movement errors.

For questions related to this test, please contact the task owner, Wolfgang Mann.