Mental Status Exam questions

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Mental status testing can be done to help diagnose mental illnesses or conditions affecting the brain. Mental status testing can help diagnose:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • attention deficit disorder (ADD)
  • bipolar disorder
  • dementia
  • head trauma
  • histrionic personality disorder
  • mental retardation
  • organic brain syndrome (OBS), a term used to described diminished mental function due to a medical condition other than a psychiatric disease
  • schizophrenia
  • stroke
  • transient ischemia attack (TIA), a ministroke that lasts only minutes

What Happens During the Test ?

The main type of mental status test used is the mini-mental state examination (MMSE), also known as the Folstein test. In this test, the examiner will observe your appearance, orientation, attention span, memory, language skills, and judgment skills.


The examiner will look to see if you look your age. He or she will also look for any physical features that are associated with certain conditions, such as the almond-shaped eyes associated with Down syndrome. The examiner will look to see if you are well-groomed. He or she will look to see if you are dressed appropriately for the situation and the weather.

Your examiner will look for cues to see how comfortable you are in social situations. He or she will observe your body language. The examiner will look for movements that are characteristic of certain conditions, such as excessive movement or muscle contractions. He or she will observe how you make eye contact. He or she will look for excessive or minimal eye contact.


Your orientation to time, place, and person will be tested. Abnormal orientation may be indicative of alcohol use, use of certain drugs, head trauma, nutritional deficiencies, or organic brain syndrome.

To test your orientation, the examiner will ask you questions. He or she may ask you your name and age. You will also be asked about your job, as well as where you live. You may also be asked where you are, what today’s date is, and what the current season is.

Attention Span

Your attention span will be tested so the examiner can determine if you are able to finish your thoughts, if you are able to solve problems, and if you are easily distracted. An abnormal attention span can indicate attention deficit disorder (ADD), personality disorders, and schizophrenia.

The examiner may ask you to count backward from a certain number or spell a short word both forward and backward. You may also be asked to follow spoken instructions.


Both your recent and long-term memory will be tested. A loss of recent memory usually indicates a medical problem, whereas a loss of long-term memory can indicate dementia. The examiner will ask you about current events such as who the president is. He or she may also ask you about recent events in your life such as a recent trip.

To test your memory, your examiner will say three words to you. You will be asked to repeat these words after a few minutes. The examiner will also test your long-term memory by asking you questions about your childhood and schooling.

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Trevor Mcdonald, stop trolling and being a jerk. I have seen your pathetic, cruel answers on other questions and I feel really sorry for you. You must have a really low self-esteem to have to spend your time putting other people down. Find something more constructive to do with your time.
Anyway... I can't really answer your questions without more information. It depends on exactly what they are looking for. Are they testing your judgment and reasoning? Have you been having hallucinations? If you are scheduled for an exam, you could ask your doctor what to expect.
Good luck, and don'…

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