What Is the Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination?

The standardized mini-mental state exam, or MMSE, is a series of questions that health professionals use to gauge a patient’s everyday mental skills and determine the presence of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The maximum possible score is 30 points, with a score of 20 to 24 indicating mild dementia, 13 to 20 indicating moderate dementia and less than 12 indicating severe dementia. A patient with Alzheimer’s typically loses two to four points each year on the MMSE.

Mental status testing provides information regarding a patient’s memory, simple problem-solving abilities and general thinking skills, explains the Alzheimer’s Association. It tests the patient’s ability to remember where he is, the date and time, and a short list of words. It also demonstrates the patient’s ability to follow instructions and do simple calculations, and determines the patient’s level of awareness regarding his symptoms.

Another common mental test is the mini-cog, in which the patient must attempt two tasks, reports the Alzheimer’s Association. First, the patient must remember the names of three common items and be able to recall them again several minutes later. The patient must also draw the face of a clock, with all the numerals in their correct positions and the arms indicating a specific time.