Mini-Cog Test for Dementia

Perform the Following:

  1. 3-minute recall of 3 words
  2. Clock drawing

First have the patient repeat 3 unrelated words a few times to ensure immediate memory.  Then go on with your history or physical for 3 minutes, & assess 3-minute recall:

  • Recalls 3 out of 3 = No dementia
  • Recalls 0 out of 3 = Dementia
  • Recalls 1 or 2 out of 3 means you go on to Clock-Drawing

Draw a circle for the patient.  Then, ask them to do the following:

  • Write in the numbers 1-12
  • Draw the hands for either of two times: 11:10, or 8:20.

If the drawing is correct for both the numbers & times, there’s No Dementia. If either is incorrect, in the context of also having missed 1-2 of the 3-word recall, it’s Dementia.


In terms of the 3-word recall, the following groups have been validated:
  • Banana – Sunrise – Chair
  • Daughter – Heaven – Mountain
  • Village – Kitchen – Baby
  • River – Nation – Finger
  • Captain – Garden – Picture
  • Leader – Season – Table

If you’re speaking to a patient in a foreign language, pick a group for which you’re sure your translation employs common vernacular. For example, in Spanish, the word for “sunrise” can vary enormously depending on what part of what country a person comes from.

In terms of Clock-Drawing, be sure there’s no clock visible to the patient. Allow no more than 3 minutes to complete the task. Refusal to draw the clock counts as “incorrect”.