Is the SAGE At-Home Dementia Test Accurate? How Do You Take It?

Cognitive Test at Home/ Daly and Newton OJO Images/ Getty Images.

People often want to know if they can just take a test at home to assess their cognitive functioning. If you're concerned about your memory (or that of your loved one) and want to briefly evaluate your thinking ability, this test is for you.

Recently, a self-screening tool has been developed and scientifically evaluated, and it's demonstrating good results in accurately identifying cognitive deficits.

It's called the SAGE (Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam) test, and was developed by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

What Is the SAGE Test?

The SAGE test contains a series of questions to answer to assess your cognitive functioning. There are actually four different tests from which you can choose, and they are all interchangeable. If you took all four (you only need to take one), you should score essentially the same on each test. Four different tests allow you to be able to take more than one test over time; for example, you could take the test annually four years in a row. Different tests reduce the chance of inaccurate scores that can arise from "practicing" the same test multiple times.

What Kinds of Questions Does the SAGE Test Contain?

How Do You Take the SAGE Test?

Unlike other tests that charge a fee per usage or require significant training for those who administer them, the SAGE test is free to use and does not require any training to administer.

You can find the SAGE test here: Ohio State University's SAGE Test. On this website, there is a button available to download the test. You can then print the test out and complete it with a pen or pencil. Most people complete the test within 15 minutes, but there is no time limit.

Because physician follow-up is recommended, Ohio State University directs you to bring the test to your physician for scoring after you complete it.

How Is the SAGE Test Scored?

There is a maximum score of 22 on the SAGE test and points are given for correct answers. The researchers suggest adding one point to the score when the participant is over the age of 80 and another if the participant has less than 12 years of education.

Scores of 17-22 are in the normal range, a score of 15-16 indicates that mild cognitive impairment is likely, and a score of 14 and below is indicative of a more serious cognitive problem, such as dementia.

How Accurate Is the SAGE Test?

When compared to other cognitive screening tests, the SAGE has demonstrated significant accuracy in being able to correctly identify people with cognitive concerns.

It contains some more difficult questions than other cognitive tests and thus should be able to identify those with early memory and thinking problems that other screens might not detect.

Next Steps

Be sure to follow up with your physician if you have concerns about your memory, word-finding abilities or other cognitive functions. Early detection of cognitive concerns can identify possible reversible causes of forgetfulness and also allows for earlier and hopefully more effective treatment if dementia is present.

Related Reading

Why Do We Forget Things? Causes of Forgetfulness

What to Expect in the Early Stages of Dementia

Tips on Spotting Early Signs of Dementia at Family Gatherings

12 Benefits of Early Detection in Dementia


Alzheimer's Disease and Associated Disorders. 2010 Jan-Mar;24(1):64-71. Self-administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE): a brief cognitive assessment Instrument for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early dementia.

The Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences. January 13, 2014. Community Cognitive Screening Using the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE). 

Ohio State University. SAGE- A Test to Measure Thinking Abilities. Accessed April 29, 2014.

Ohio State University. Explanation of SAGE Scoring. Accessed April 29, 2014

Ohio State Univeristy. SAGE- Validity and Normative Data. 

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