A person takes the mini-mental state exam, or MMSE, by answering questions that evaluate everyday mental skills, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The test allows a maximum score of 30 points. A score of 20 to 24 points indicates the patient has mild dementia, a score of 13 to 20 indicates the presence of moderate dementia, and less than 12 indicates severe dementia. A person with Alzheimer's usually loses two to four points per year on the MMSE.
Along with the MMSE, the examination may involve a test called the mini-cog and a mood assessment, states the Alzheimer's Association. During the mini-cog, the person completes two tasks. First, he must remember the names of three common objects and repeat them a few minutes later. Second, he must draw the face of a clock with all 12 numerals in the correct position and the hands pointing to a specific time. The mood assessment checks for other mental disorders that may be responsible for the patient's symptoms.
Mental status testing evaluates a person's memory, simple problem-solving skills, general awareness and other thinking skills, explains the Alzheimer's Association. The health professional uses this type of testing to determine the patient's ability to remember where he is, the date and time, his awareness of his own symptoms, and his ability to follow instructions, perform basic calculations and remember simple information. The results help determine whether a more in-depth evaluation is necessary.