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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Neuropsychological Tests

How It Is Done continued...

Tests for attention span and memory. You might be asked to:

  • Repeat a series of numbers, letters, or words.
  • Look at some simple drawings and then draw them from memory.

Tests for language and speech skills. You might be asked to:

  • Name pictures that the examiner shows you.
  • Point to a picture named by the examiner.
  • Name as many words as you can think of that begin with a certain letter or are in a certain category (for example, animals or fruits).

Test for reasoning, planning, and organizing skills. You might be asked to:

  • Sort cards according to colors or shapes on the cards.
  • Use a pencil to connect a series of numbered or lettered dots on a sheet of paper.
  • Stack colored discs in a certain pattern.

It may take several hours to take all the tests. But you may not have to take all of them at once.

How It Feels

You might feel nervous if you know your ability to think is being judged by the person giving you the tests. The tests are meant to test your limits, so don't be discouraged if they seem hard.

You may get tired, because the tests can take several hours.

If you are being checked for a health condition, such as Alzheimer's disease, you may be afraid of what the tests will show.


Your doctor may not be able to find the cause of your symptoms, because some problems are hard to diagnose. Also, other tests may be needed to accurately diagnose your problem.


Test results give your doctor an overall picture of how well you are able to think, reason, and remember. Your doctor may discuss some results with you right away. Complete results may not be available for several weeks.

The results of the test may help determine when an athlete who has had a concussion can return to play. Testing can also identify mood or emotional problems.

Many conditions can change the results of a neuropsychological test. For example, depression can slow your thinking. But your doctor will consider your other symptoms when looking at the test results.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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