The Mini Mental State Examination

The MMSE is the most common test for screening for cognitive impairment. It tests multiple cognitive domains including orientation in time and place, attention, calculation, short term memory, language and copying. It helps to quantify the patient’s degree of impairment, and may be followed over time to track the progression of impairment. It is however, poor at detecting very mild dementia and does not test frontal/executive function and visuospatial function well, making it less valuable in non-Alzheimer’s type dementias. A score of 24/30 or below is suggestive of cognitive impairment, although a ‘normal’ MMSE does not rule out the possibility of cognitive impairment, especially in younger or well-educated patients. This test usually takes around 10 minutes to complete.