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What is the clock drawing test?

Abigail Ryan, PhD
Neurologist

The clock drawing test is a test of cognitive functioning that measures visual-constructional abilities and executive functions (e.g., planning, organization). The test is used in combination with other cognitive measures to distinguish between healthy individuals and those who may have cognitive impairment or dementia.

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While it sounds like a simple test, the clock drawing test helps doctors to diagnose dementia. The patient is asked to draw a clock indicating a specific time. To complete the task, he or she must use many areas of the brain. Based upon how the final clock drawing looks, the doctor may be able to tell which areas of the patient's brain are compromised.

Dr. Zaldy S. Tan, MD
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

The clock drawing test is a way to test a person's visual and planning abilities. It is typically performed by having a person draw a clock and asking them to draw in the hands to show a particular time. The test performance is judged based on the symmetry of the circle and the accurate placement of the numbers and the hands of the clock. An abnormal performance in the clock drawing test may suggest cognitive problems that will need further evaluation by a physician memory specialist.

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