These legitimate, science-based memory tests give meaningful results. If long or short-term memory is a concern, a quality test for memory loss is a must.
What you’ll learn about memory tests in this article:
- Why you should choose your memory test carefully
- How to find reputable memory tests online
- Safe and secure memory tests offered by universities and nonprofit organizations
- Six memory tests used by health care professionals that you can do at home
- Legitimate memory quizzes, challenges, and games
- Steps to take if your memory test results are bad
If your memory isn’t working as well as you’d like, or as well as it used to, taking an online memory test can help you know where you stand.
But there’s an overwhelming number of memory loss tests available online … where to begin?
Not all memory tests are created equal.
Some are designed by neuroscientists in conjunction with major universities or brain health organizations.
Others are designed by people with no brain expertise whatsoever.
We’ll help you sort the trustworthy do-it-yourself tests from the scams.
We’ll also point you to the best memory test to consider if you think that your memory loss may be serious.
Why You Should Choose Your Memory Test Carefully
Do an online search for memory test and you’ll find loads of websites that offer free tests.
Most of these tests are ineffective at best, and they can be intentionally misleading and even predatory. (1)
Some are designed to use your test results to scare you into buying a product or service.
One popular test gives everyone who takes it a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Many of these tests are used to gather your data which can be used for a variety of unscrupulous purposes.
Most commonly, your information is used to create targeted online ads and is sold to companies who mine data. (2)
Medical-based information can be sold to your insurance company or employer and even falls into the hands of criminals.
Not all questionable memory tests are online.
A few years ago, the Rite Aid drugstore chain drew fire from both doctors and Alzheimer’s organizations for offering free memory tests.
Apparently, the personnel administering the tests did not have the required expertise to administer these tests.
Test results were inaccurate, causing customers to be unnecessarily alarmed. (3)
Finding a Reputable Memory Test: What to Look For
Once you’ve found an memory test online, do the following before you start taking it.
First, browse around the site.
Look at the top and bottom of any site page for an “about us” page and contact information.
You want to see evidence that there is a credible organization or persons behind the test.
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Any legitimate memory loss test will clearly state its affiliation with a university, group of neuroscientists, or nonprofit organization.
This will help assure that the test is supported by science and will not misuse your information.
Not having these on any website is a red flag.
If you aren’t sure who is behind the test and how your information will be used, we recommend you skip it.
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Legitimate Memory Tests You Can Take Yourself
We’ve done much of the homework for you here by reviewing the most popular online tests and researching many more.
What’s left is a list of our top picks — memory tests offered by reputable organizations you can trust.
These tests are both safe and secure and the results will give you meaningful information.
Several of these tests are actually used by clinics as screening tools, but you can do them at home.
Some you can take online directly, while others need to be downloaded and printed.
Some will tabulate a score for you immediately, others you will have to grade yourself or have someone else do this for you.
And, best of all, there is no cost to take any of these tests.
Memory Tests Used by Health Care Professionals
This first group of tests includes those used by clinicians to diagnose memory loss and other cognitive impairments.
But surprisingly, they are also available for you to do on your own for free.
Note that if you take any of these tests and your results are suspicious, we urge you to talk to your doctor.
She may want to repeat the test in her office or see you for a cognitive check-up.
(If you are a senior covered by Medicare, you can receive a routine cognitive screening evaluation as part of your annual check-up.)
Saint Louis University Mental Status (SLUMS) Exam
This test measures 11 cognitive categories including short-term memory, calculations, and recognition of geometric figures.
It takes about 7 minutes to complete.
You can learn more about this test on the Saint Louis University website.
You can download the mental status exam in PDF format directly from the St. Louis University School of Medicine.
This memory test is available in a dozen or so languages besides English.
Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE)
The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) is the most commonly used test for complaints of memory loss or when a diagnosis of dementia is being considered.
The test is typically administered by a health care professional, but DementiaToday.com provides the actual MMSE test as a PDF so you can take it at home.
Six-Item Cognitive Impairment Test (6CIT)
The Six-item Cognitive Impairment Test (6CIT) is a dementia screening tool often used in Europe.
It consists of six simple, non-cultural questions.
You can take the test here.
Test Your Memory (TYM) Exam
The Test Your Memory (TYM) exam is considered an accurate tool for Alzheimer’s screening. (4)
Research published in the prestigious British Medical Journal concluded that this self-administered cognitive screening test “is a powerful and valid screening test for the detection of Alzheimer’s disease.”
You can print this 2-page memory test here.
(Note that this test was designed in the UK, so feel free to replace the term “prime minister” with “president” in question #3 if you live in the US.)
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The Mini-Cog is a very simple screening test you can use if you’re concerned about mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer’s.
You can print this test to take yourself or administer it to someone else.
The PDF version of the test is provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, the largest nonprofit Alzheimer’s research and educational organization.
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If you decide to take this test, it would be best to have someone else print it since the answers are included in the PDF as well.
The scoring is somewhat subjective, but you can get help on interpreting the test results at Mini-Cog.com.
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Ohio State University Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE)
The SAGE test is designed to detect early signs of memory loss and other cognitive impairments.
This is a serious test used by medical professionals.
You won’t get a score when you’ve finished.
You’ll need to take your completed test to your doctor to evaluate the results for you.
If you think your memory loss could be serious, this is the test to take.
Memory Tests That Also Contribute to Research
These memory tests are offered by organizations that use the data collected to further scientific research.
Many offer you an added benefit — they give you the opportunity to do “research” on yourself.
Several of these allow you to track how your brain changes with time or as you make changes to your lifestyle.
Before you take these kinds of tests, read their terms of agreement carefully to be sure you understand your rights and responsibilities.
Food for the Brain Cognitive Function Test
Food for the Brain is an educational nonprofit organization based in the United Kingdom.
Their Cognitive Function Test was developed by a group of nutritional therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, and scientists.
Your test results will indicate whether your cognitive skills are within normal range.
This test can help you determine your level of cognitive impairment and potential risk of Alzheimer’s.
You are encouraged to retake it to track how your brain functions change over time.
MindCrowd is a collaborative effort between the University of Arizona and two leading research institutions, the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative.
This research study offers a free memory test and uses the results to understand how genetics influences how the human brain remembers and how memory changes with age.
MindCrowd’s ultimate goal is to better understand what changes occur in people with brain diseases that affect memory, like Alzheimer’s disease.
If you take this test, you may be asked to take the test again at a later date, but you are under no obligation to do so.
Cambridge Brain Sciences
Cambridge Brain Sciences offers a suite of tests that allows you to evaluate several aspects of cognitive performance.
When you join the Cambridge Brain Sciences community, you’re actually taking part in one of the largest online scientific experiments ever conducted.
Over seven million tests have been taken so far.
You can use their tests to “track your hack” — seeing how your brain responds, both positively and negatively, to changes you make in the areas of sleep, exercise, stress, caffeine, meditation, and nootropic brain supplements.
You can sign up for a free account or choose an upgraded version which allows you to take unlimited tests and receive unlimited reports for a low monthly cost.
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Cogniciti’s Online Brain Health Assessment
Cogniciti’s Online Brain Health Assessment is a memory test provided by Baycrest, Canada’s largest geriatric healthcare institute and a world leader in memory and aging research.
The test takes about 20 minutes to complete online.
After you’ve taken the test, you’ll receive a personalized action plan.
And, if your results warrant a doctor’s visit, you’ll also receive a report for your doctor to help make your consultation a productive one.
Test My Brain
Test My Brain is a not-for-profit research initiative that began at Harvard University.
This organization provides high-quality neurocognitive tests to further their understanding of the human brain.
You’ll find tests for cognitive speed, memory, concentration, recognizing emotions, and more.
Over 1.7 million participants, so-called “citizen scientists,” have taken their tests.
After you’ve taken a test, you’ll receive personalized feedback about your unique brain profile.
More Trustworthy Memory Tests
There are not used by doctors or for ongoing research, but are still worthwhile memory tests to consider.
MemTrax Memory Test
The MemTrax memory test was designed by Dr. J. Wesson Ashford, a Stanford University psychiatrist and neuroscientist.
He developed MemTrax as a memory screening tool to assist in the detection of learning and short-term memory issues that arise with age-related cognitive decline.
MemTrax measures your brain’s health over time so you can judge if your forgetfulness is normal or the sign of a serious problem.
You can take the test for free or join their membership program for a nominal charge if you’d like to use the test regularly to monitor the status of your memory over time.
CogMed Working Memory Challenge
CogMed is a brain fitness and working memory training program developed by an international team of neuroscientists at Pearson’s Clinical Assessment Group.
Their Working Memory Challenge tests your ability to remember and recall visual patterns.
You can take the memory challenge directly on the CogMed website.
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Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation Memory Quiz
Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation is a registered charitable organization.
They have two quizzes on their website.
The first one is a 15-question Memory Quiz to help you determine if your memory loss might be serious.
This test was developed by the organization’s founder Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD.
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And since stress is a major cause of mental decline, they also have a Stress Assessment Quiz based on your current life situation.
You can tabulate instant results for each.
Psychology Today Memory Test
Psychology Today magazine has been in print since 1967.
They now have the #1 mental health website that gets tens of millions of visits every month.
Among the many self-assessment tools they offer are dozens of cognitive skills tests for functions like attention span, problem-solving abilities, and concentration.
Their free memory test assesses how much your memory loss is affecting your life with a short multiple choice questionnaire.
After finishing the test, you can elect to receive a free, detailed, personalized interpretation of your score.
(Note that for many of their online assessments, you’ll need to pay a small fee to see your full test results.)
Rutgers University Memory Self-Tests
At first glance, this site does not look very impressive, but, in fact, it is part of Rutgers’ Memory Disorders Project.
You’ll find two memory tests here — one test for verbal memory and one for visual memory.
Each takes 10-15 minutes to complete.
Memory Quizzes, Challenges, and More
There are many websites that take a lighter approach, offering games and quizzes to test your memory while giving you mental stimulation and exercising your memory skills.
You’ll find memory tests here for people of all ages, kids to seniors — all offered by credible organizations.
AARP Staying Sharp
You probably need no introduction to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons).
It’s the largest nonprofit organization in the US representing and empowering Americans 50+ years old.
Staying Sharp is their brain fitness site.
You can sign up for free to play their brain games and get their latest articles on brain health.
If you become a member, you can take their Brain Health Assessment and receive personalized recommendations for living a brain-smart lifestyle.
Predictably, the games you find here are designed with older adults in mind and aren’t too complicated.
AARP realizes that their audience didn’t grow up with video games.
You’ll find memory, word, and problem-solving games designed for keeping seniors’ brains sharp.
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Extreme Memory Challenge
Unlike most of the memory tests here, the goal of the Extreme Memory Challenge is not to help those with a bad memory — it’s to identify people with exceptional memories.
When you take this challenge, you’ll get to see how your memory compares to a reigning memory champion.
If you take this test, you may be selected to complete additional online studies to further research on long-term memory, but you are free to opt out at any time.
Fotuhi Brain Fitness Calculator
Neurologist Dr. Majid Fotuhi is a graduate of both Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
He is the author of Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance.
He created the Fotuhi Brain Fitness Calculator based on his 25 years of research, clinical and teaching experiences.
This questionnaire does not test your memory per se.
Instead, it assesses your habits to determine how brain-healthy your lifestyle is.
SharpBrains is a leading market research firm and brain fitness think tank led by a team of neuroscientists.
But they also have a fun side!
Start with their Top 50 Brain Teasers for Adults of Any Age.
You’ll find memory, attention, language, and logic exercises, plus experiments to illustrate how your brain works.
And once you finish these, they have more brainy challenges.
University of Washington Short-Term Memory Test
The University of Washington offers a very basic do-it-yourself short-term memory test here.
It tests how many letters you can hold in your short-term memory at one time.
This test starts off easy but gets hard fast.
There are six rounds that start with memorizing 2 letters and working up to 12.
This site contains over two dozen memory tests, quizzes, and games for all ages.
Steps to Take If Your Memory Test Results Are Bad
If you perform poorly on any memory test you take, don’t be too alarmed.
First, realize that there is no single test that can diagnose problematic memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. (5)
But you may want to talk to your doctor about your results.
She may want to do a physical exam or discuss your current medications.
There are many underlying health conditions that can contribute to memory loss.
There are also hundreds of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that cause memory loss. (6)
Once these are ruled out, your doctor may want to do her own cognitive assessment. (7)
She may administer the SLUMS, SAGE, MMSE, 6CIT, TYM, or Mini-Cog test in her office.
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If you are on the fence as to whether you need professional help, you can learn more about signs that your memory loss may be serious in our article Why Your Memory Is Bad and What to Do About It.
In the meantime, there is much that you can do to help your brain function its best.
Check out the brain-healthy lifestyle changes we discuss throughout our website.
Give your brain some help with the right foods, proper supplementation, stress reduction, and more.
Try some of the brain exercises proven to improve short-term memory and other cognitive skills.
Then you can take the memory test again in a few months to see if there is any improvement.
Online Memory Tests: The Bottom Line
If you are concerned about your memory, taking a memory test developed by a reputable organization can help you know where you stand.
You can use your results as a baseline for future measurement.
Since many online memory loss tests are also used by medical professionals as diagnostic tools, test results can indicate whether your memory loss is within normal limits.
But if you have any reason to believe your memory loss is serious, talk to your doctor.