What is the clock drawing test?

Abigail Ryan, PhD

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.

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.

Continue Learning about Dementia Diagnosis

What basic cognitive test is often used to help diagnose dementia?
John H. Growdon, MDJohn H. Growdon, MD
Mental status testing, which is part of the neurologic examination, is crucial in diagnosing dem...
More Answers
Is there a simple test for dementia?
Jill A. Grimes, MDJill A. Grimes, MD
The mini-mental status exam is a quick tool that is often used in the primary care setting to as...
More Answers
How Do We Treat Dementia?
How Do We Treat Dementia?
Is It Helpful for a Patient to Know About a Disease That Is Incurable?
Is It Helpful for a Patient to Know About a Disease That Is Incurable?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.