A guide to the standardized Mini-Mental State Examination

Int Psychogeriatr. 1997:9 Suppl 1:87-94; discussion 143-50. doi: 10.1017/s1041610297004754.


The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is a widely used screening test for cognitive impairment in older adults. Because the guidelines for its application are brief, the administration and scoring of the test can vary between different individuals. This can diminish its reliability. Furthermore, some of the items must be changed to accommodate different settings, such as the clinic, home, or hospital. Because there are no time limits, it is not clear how long one should wait for a reply to a question. It is also not clear how one deals with answers that are "near misses." The goal of the Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE) was to impose strict guidelines for administration and scoring to improve the reliability of the instrument. The reliability of the MMSE was compared with the reliability of the SMMSE in 48 older adults who had the tests administered by university students on three different occasions to assess the interrater and intrarater reliability of the tests. The SMMSE had significantly better interrater and intrarater reliability compared with the MMSE: The interrater variance was reduced by 76% and the intrarater variance was reduced by 86%. It took less time to administer the SMMSE compared with the MMSE (average 10.5 minutes and 13.4 minutes, respectively). The intraclass correlation for the MMSE was .69, and .9 for the SMMSE. Administering and scoring the SMMSE on a task-by-task basis are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Reproducibility of Results