Activity 6C: Folstein Mini Mental Status Exam

Note to Teachers: Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR) owns the copyright to the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE). The downloadable copy of the MMSE has been removed from our website. Please contact PAR for access to the MMSE.

Explain to the students that tests such as the Folstein Mini-Mental Status Examination are administered to help diagnose dementias. How do you think it would feel to be given such a test? The doctor obtains an accurate history from the person and their family in order to gauge the person's cognitive ability and their ability to "function independently."

Students will take the Folstein Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) in pairs; they will take turns administering the test to each other.

The following are the instructions for administering the exam:

  1. The teacher should model how the questions are to be asked. This may be done with a volunteer from the class.
  2. The instructions for asking each question and scoring the items are given on the questionnaire itself.
  3. If an item is answered correctly, it is scored as "1". If the item is answered incorrectly, it is scored as "0". At the end of administering the MMSE, all the correct scores are totaled. A perfect score is 30. In persons over 65 years old, a score of 24 or less is considered presumptive evidence for cognitive problems and further evaluation may be necessary.
  4. After the students have given the MMSE to each other, have the class discuss problems that they have encountered in giving the tests and/or problems that an older person might have in answering the questions that may not have anything to do with dementia.

Even if a MMSE is low (less than 24), that does not mean a person has a dementing disorder. For the students, their cognitive skills are still maturing! How far they will grow in their thinking skills is illustrated in Activity 7A: Universe of Function.

Examples of problems that might influence the administration of the MMSE:

  • Education Level - an older person may not have had enough schooling to have the skills to answer some of the questions (i.e., arithmetic, spelling, reading, writing).
  • Hearing Problems - an older person may not hear the question correctly, if at all.
  • Vision Problems - an older person may not be able to see the phrases or diagram.
  • Cultural Differences - test questions may be biased; for example, persons growing up in certain climates may not think about four distinct seasons, but may think in terms of war and cool seasons, or wet and dry seasons.

Folstein Mini Mental Status Examination, MMSE

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Activity Code: 
Unit Reference: 
It's All in Your Mind
Lesson Reference: 
Lesson 6: Damaged Brains