Catch memory problems early, take the SAGE test.

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) is designed to detect early signs of cognitive, memory or thinking impairments. It evaluates your thinking abilities and helps physicians to know how well your brain is working.

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How to take the SAGE Test

You do not need special equipment to take SAGE — just a pen and paper. There are four forms of the SAGE test. You only need to take one. It doesn't matter which one you take; they are all interchangeable.

Click on the link above to download the test. Print it out and answer the questions in ink without the assistance of others. Don't look at the clock or calendar while taking the test, and if you have questions about an item, just do the best you can. The average time to complete this four-page test is 10 to 15 minutes, but there is no time limit.

When you're done, take your answer sheet to your doctor so he or she can score it and talk to you about the results. Depending on your score, your doctor may order follow-up tests or simply keep it on file so he can see if there are any changes down the road.

Why take the SAGE test?

You may want to take SAGE if you are concerned that you might have cognitive issues. Or you may wish to have your family or friends take the test if they are having memory or thinking problems. The difficulties listed can be early signs of cognitive and brain dysfunction. While dementia or Alzheimer's disease can lead to these symptoms, there are many other treatable disorders that also may cause these signs.

It is normal to experience some memory loss and to take longer to recall events as you age. But if the changes you are experiencing are worrying you or others around you, SAGE can be a helpful tool to assess if further evaluation is necessary.

Unfortunately, many people do not seek help for these kinds of symptoms until they have experienced them for several years. There are many treatable causes of cognitive and thinking loss, and in some cases, medications or other treatments can be very effective-especially if provided when symptoms first begin.

Remember that SAGE does not diagnose any specific condition. The results of SAGE will not tell you if you have Alzheimer's disease, mini-strokes or any number of other disorders. But the results can help your doctor know if further evaluation is necessary.

What do I do after I take the test?

After you complete the test, take it to your primary care physician. Your doctor will score it and interpret the results. If indicated, your doctor will order some tests to further evaluate your symptoms or refer you for further evaluation.

If your score does not indicate any need for further evaluation, your doctor can keep the test on file as a baseline for the future. That means, you can take the test again in the future, and the doctor can see if there are any changes over time.

There is no answer sheet provided here for you to score yourself because there are multiple correct answers to many of the questions on the test. SAGE should be scored by your physician.

If you do not have a primary care physician, you can find one through our list of providers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

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For Physicians

For Physicians

Learn more about the SAGE test and how you can administer and interpret the results for your patients.

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How to administer the test

The test is self-administered and can be taken at a person's home, in a physician's office or virtually anywhere. It requires no special equipment-only pen and paper.

There are four forms of the SAGE test. Only one test form should be given. It does not matter which form is taken, as they are all interchangeable. Multiple forms are provided to reduce practice effect for patients who may take the test more than once and are useful when rapidly screening larger numbers of individuals at the same time.

The steps to administer the test are as follows:

Inform the examinee that there are four pages to complete.

  • Have the examinee fill out the test in ink without the assistance of others.
  • Calendars and clocks should not be available during the testing.
  • Do not answer specific questions. Just say, "Do the best that you can."
  • There is no time limit. Average time to complete is 10 to 15 minutes.

How to interpret the results

Examinees who download SAGE from the Internet and take it at home are instructed to bring their completed test to their primary care physician. Scoring instructions and explanations for physicians are below:

Scoring Instructions: English USEnglish NZSpanishItalian, Dutch

Scoring Explanation: English USEnglish NZSpanishItalian, Dutch

The science behind the SAGE test

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) is a brief self-administered cognitive screening instrument used to identify mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from any cause and early dementia. The questions are more difficult than other similar questionnaires, such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) in order to pick up those with very mild impairments. There is no fee to use SAGE for individual clinical use and noncommercial educational use.

Researchers at Ohio State evaluated study participants using SAGE and then evaluated the same subjects with other established assessment tools. The test has a sensitivity of 79 percent and a false positive rate of 5 percent in detecting cognitive impairment from normal subjects. Results were published in the January-March 2010 issue of Alzheimer's Disease & Associated Disorders.

In another study, researchers at Ohio State performed an item analysis of the test questions. Results were published in the Winter 2014 issue of The Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences.

Department of Neurology

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SAGE Validity and Normative Data

These tables and figures provide validity and normative data on SAGE.

View Data (PDF)

Contact Information

Douglas Scharre, MD
Director, Division of Cognitive Neurology
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
(614) 293-4969

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