Early detection of cognitive decline may lead to more effective treatment. Clinical cognitive assessment is essential for early detection, but must be brief with easily interpretable results. The present study defines and evaluates a 30-minute cognitive battery consisting of a subset of tests that comprise a longer computerized battery recently validated in detecting mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Participants were from three tertiary care memory clinics and an assisted living facility (final group: N=161) with consensus diagnoses of cognitively healthy, MCI, or mild dementia. A comprehensive NeuroTrax battery evaluated memory, executive function, visual spatial perception, verbal function, information processing speed, and motor skills. Validity of a single summary measure ('MCI Score') designed for dementia detection and built exclusively from tests of memory, executive function, and visual spatial perception was evaluated with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. Discriminant validity (area under the curve: AUC) was at least as large for the 6-parameter MCI Score as for a 20-parameter score necessitating administration of the entire battery. Further, the MCI Score had a larger AUC with reduced variance relative to its constituent parameters. AUC for distinguishing dementia was 0.886; AUC for distinguishing cognitively healthy was 0.823. Finally, the MCI Score discriminated among all three diagnostic groups (ANOVA; F[2,150]=52.54, p<0.001). Hence a reduced NeuroTrax battery (30 minutes) with MCI Score is a useful clinical tool for summarizing cognitive data relevant to early dementia detection.