Speed Reads

Testing testing

Creator of cognition test Trump brags of acing says it's 'supposed to be easy' for unimpaired people

President Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier in July that he "aced" a cognitive test at Walter Reed Medical Center "very recently," and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace did not seem overly impressed when Trump brought up the test again during his Fox News Sunday interview over the weekend. Wallace said he also took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) test after Trump said he passed it, and "it's not the hardest test. It shows a picture and it says, 'what's that,' and it's an elephant."

"It's all misrepresentation, because yes, the first few questions are easy, but I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions," Trump responded. "They get very hard, the last five questions. ... You couldn't answer many of the questions."

Dr. Ziad Nasreddine, who developed the MoCA test in 1996, told MarketWatch on Monday everyone is misrepresenting the test. "This is not an IQ test or the level of how a person is extremely skilled or not," he said. "The test is supposed to help physicians detect early signs of Alzheimer's." Certified doctors have to examine the test results, and not everyone who does poorly has early onset dementia, he added. If doctors have concerns, they typically ask the subject to take the test again in two months, or run other physical tests.

The MoCA test is "supposed to be easy for someone who has no cognitive impairment," Nasreddine told MarketWatch. "The purpose is to detect impairment; it's not meant to determine if someone has extremely high levels of abilities." However, he added, with Trump 74 and Joe Biden 77, concerns that either might have cognitive impairment or dementia "is a pertinent question, and it's not surprising that this is becoming an issue this election."