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The Mini-Cog Assessment Instrument Cheat Sheet by

Test to determine adult mental impairment
assessment     healthcare     dementia     geriatric     mini-cog

Introd­uction Mini-Cog Test

The Mini-Cog test is a 3-minute instrument to screen for cognitive impairment in older adults in the primary care setting. The Mini-Cog uses a three-item recall test for memory and a simply scored clock-­drawing test (CDT). The latter serves as an “infor­mative distra­ctor,” helping to clarify scores when the memory recall score is interm­ediate. In compar­ative tests, the Mini-Cog was at least twice as fast as the Mini-M­ental State Examin­ation. The Mini-Cog is less affected by subject ethnicity, language, and education, and can detect a variety of different dementias. Moreover, the Mini-Cog detects many people with mild cognitive impairment (cognitive impairment too mild to meet diagnostic criteria for dementia).
Reference: Borson S. The mini-cog: a cognitive “vitals signs” measure for dementia screening in multi-­lingual elderly Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2000; 15(11)­:1021.

Administer the Mini-Cog Test

A clock should not be within the patient’s view when admini­stering this test.
1. Make sure you have the patient’s attention. Instruct the patient to listen carefully to and remember 3 unrelated words and then to repeat the words back to you, so you will know they heard the words correctly. Instruct the patient to listen carefully and repeat the following words:
APPLE WATCH PENNY (English speaking person)
MANZANA RELOJ PESETA (Spanish speaking person)

2. Instruct the patient to draw the face of a clock, either on a blank sheet of paper or on a sheet with the clock circle already drawn on it. After the patient puts the numbers on the clock face, ask him or her to draw the hands of the
clock to read a specific time (11:10 or 8:20 are most commonly used and are more sensitive than some others).

These steps can be repeated, but no additional instru­ctions should be given. If the patient cannot complete the CDT within 3 minutes, move on to the next step.

3. Ask the patient to repeat the 3 previously presented words (See step 1).

Clock Drawing


1 point for each recalled word. A point is given for each recalled word after the CDT distra­cter.
Score clock drawing as Normal (the patient places the correct time and the clock appears grossly normal) or Abnormal
0 Positive for cognitive impairment
1-2 Abnormal CDT then positive for cognitive impairment
1-2 Normal CDT then negative for cognitive impairment
3 Negative screen for dementia (no need to score CDT)

Mini-Cog Scoring

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