What your score looks like
Here is an example of a Cognitive Function Test result. This person scored highly and, in the cognitive domains tested, currently does not show cognitive impairment.
How we classify scores
A score of 54.2 is the average expected score, and we expect most respondents to score between 43.2 and 65.2. These scores are at 1 standard deviation above and below the mean for the age group 50 to 70. A score above 54 means that your score is higher than the average person’s score in this age group. We expect 84.1% of those who took the test to score higher than 43 and we expect 15.9% to score below it. A score of between 38 and 43 is lower than one standard deviation below the mean. We classify this as amber or an ‘at risk’ score. A score lower than 37.7 places the respondent below 1.5 standard deviations from the mean, in the bottom 6.7%, which is classified as a red or ‘significant risk’ score.
What having a ‘red score’ means
People with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) would be expected to score in the red range, but a score in this range does not mean that you are definitely impaired. This score is consistent with risk of MCI rather than risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). It is not a diagnosis. MCI is more likely to occur after the age of 65. However, about 50% of people who have MCI are at risk of progressing to AD or other dementia 5 years after they are in the MCI stage. Thus, to have a ‘red’ score now is an indication that further investigation is worth considering. First, you could visit your GP to see if a medical explanation can be found for the low score. Second, you might consider, in discussion with your GP, some preventive action to slow changes in the brain. If your score was ‘amber’ your result showed that you performed slightly below the norm for your age. This may just be a chance result or it may reflect early changes in your brain function or it may be due to other factors, including interruptions or technical problems during the test. To find out more about the impact of these please see Frequently Asked Questions.
Your test score has already been adjusted for age, education and computer skill level. These are factors that we know affect the test score in a predictable fashion and the adjustments are based on our pilot study and concur with already published research. The test has been designed for those aged 50 to 70. If you are older than this when you take the test the results may be less accurate. It is likely that for older people the risk is slightly less for a lower score as one expects test performance to decline with age.
Factors that can affect your score
It is important to remember that poor cognitive test scores could also be due to medication and some types of dyslexia or other factors. Poor cognitive test scores could also be related to depression or depressive symptoms that affect motivation, but if the test is taken with intent, the results should be valid. It is also important to follow the instructions about not being disturbed and checking that your mouse is working properly.
It is not a good idea to retake the test within a year as we wish to avoid any learning effects on the test from repeated performance as this might affect the reliability of your results.