Conners Scale for ADHD Assessment

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on March 08, 2023
3 min read

If you suspect you or your child might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your doctor has several ways to make a diagnosis. One is an ADHD rating scale, which measures symptoms like inattention and lack of impulse control. Doctors have many such scales to choose from. They often use one called the Conners rating scale.

There are different versions of Conners rating scales. One is for children and teens, and another is for adults.

The Conners rating scale is a questionnaire that asks about things like behavior, work or schoolwork, and social life. The answers show your doctor which ADHD symptoms you might have and how serious they are. They can show how these symptoms affect things like grades, job, home life, and relationships.

Parents and teachers usually fill out the scales for children. Older children complete their own rating scale. Adults answer a questionnaire about themselves and may ask a spouse, co-worker, or close friend to do one as well.

Depending on which version your doctor uses, the Conners ADHD rating scales might ask a lot of questions or just a few. Whether aimed at children or adults, the Conners scale assesses symptoms such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Problems keeping friends
  • Emotional problems
  • Problems eating or sleeping
  • Impulsiveness
  • Problems with math or language
  • Temper tantrums
  • Compulsiveness
  • Fears of being separated from loved ones

When answering questions on the Conners rating scales, you enter a number from 0 to 3 to indicate how often you notice a symptom or behavior. A "0" means never, while a "3" means it happens very often.

By analyzing these answers, your doctor can be more accurate in diagnosing ADHD. The scale also indicates whether you have another condition along with ADHD. It helps your doctor decide how to treat your ADHD. Later on, it can show how well your treatment is working.

Your doctor adds up the points in all parts of the Conners scale. Your total score is compared to the scores of others. (For children, it's those in the same age group.)

A standardized measure called a T-score helps your doctor compare your results. When your T-score is less than 60, it usually means you don’t have ADHD. A score higher than 60 may indicate ADHD. And a T-score higher than 70 means your ADHD symptoms are more serious.

The Conners scale is only one test to diagnose ADHD. Sometimes, the people who fill out ADHD rating scales don’t agree on the answers. So doctors often blend scores from several tests to be certain you have the condition.

Other tools doctors use to find out if you have ADHD include physical exams, watching your behavior, and testing your attention and thinking skills.

Doctors have many types of ADHD rating scales to choose from. Some examples are:

For children:

  • Vanderbilt Assessment Scale. This reviews symptoms of ADHD. It also looks for other conditions such as conduct disorder, oppositional-defiant disorder, anxiety, and depression. Parents or teachers answer questions about how well the child does with schoolwork and gets along with others.
  • Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC). This looks for things like hyperactivity, aggression, and conduct problems as well as anxiety, depression, attention, and learning problems.
  • Child Behavior Checklist/Teacher Report Form (CBCL). Among other things, this scale looks at problem behavior in children.

For adults:

  • Adult ADHD Clinical Diagnostic Scale (ACDS). A doctor, therapist, or other health care worker asks you 18 questions about your symptoms during an interview.
  • Brown Attention-Deficit Disorder Symptom Assessment Scale (BADDS) for Adults. You answer 40 questions, either on a questionnaire or during an interview with a health care worker. It looks for problems with things like attention, memory, and mood.