SAGE Test - Free Self-Test for Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

Sage Test

The SAGE (Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam) test is designed to recognize early signs of cognitive, memory, or thinking impairments.

These impairments include Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, both diseases that are treated more successfully if detected in the earliest stages. Unfortunately, patients frequently come in for diagnosis after these diseases have progressed substantially.

The SAGE test is designed to prevent this issue, catching signs of cognitive impairment early to allow for the greatest chance of successful treatment.

About the SAGE Test

The SAGE test was developed by Douglas Scharre, a neurologist at the Ohio State University Medical Center.

 Picture of Douglas Scharre

Picture of Douglas Scharre

It’s a paper and pen test that can be downloaded online for free. The test is only four pages long and can typically be completed in 10-15 minutes.

However, there is no time limit on the SAGE. In fact, you should not look at a clock or a calendar while taking the test (due to some of the test’s questions).

Although there are four versions of the SAGE test available, they are interchangeable, so you can choose whichever test you want. You only need to take one of the four available forms.

It is important to remember that this assessment cannot diagnose a specific disorder. Instead, it identifies potential cognitive impairment that should be further examined by a doctor.

There are 22 total points on the SAGE test. Missing six or more points typically indicates that follow-up by a physician is needed.

Studies show that 80% of individuals with mild thinking and memory issues will be identified by the SAGE test, while 95% of people who are “normal thinking” will have normal SAGE scores. These results indicate that the SAGE test is a valid and reliable indicator of mild cognitive impairment.

SAGE Test Questions

 sage assessment sample questions

sage assessment sample questions

At the top of the SAGE test, you’ll first be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire about yourself and your medical history, including if you’ve noticed changes in your personality and if you’ve ever suffered a major stroke.

Next, you’ll begin answering the actual test questions. Questions on the SAGE test assess memory, problem-solving, and other basic cognitive skills.

For example, you may be asked to:

  • Identify images

  • List a certain amount of animals or other category

  • Solve very basic math problems involving money

  • Compare and contrast simple items

  • Demonstrate memory by reading a one-step direction midway through the test and completing it at the test’s end

  • Write the date from memory

  • Copy/reproduce provided images

  • Solve puzzles involving shapes
  • Any questions that may be complicated are paired with examples showing you what to do. If you still aren’t sure how to answer a question, just do your best. You aren’t allowed to ask for outside help or clarification on the test, as it could compromise your results.

    Why Take the SAGE Test

    You may want to consider taking the SAGE test if you are exhibiting early signs of cognitive and brain dysfunction. These signs include:

  • Language problems, such as difficulty finding words

  • Memory loss, including forgetting recently learned information and frequently misplacing objects

  • Changes in personality or mood

  • Disorientation to time, meaning you commonly forget the date or day of the week

  • Impaired sense of direction, typically indicated by getting lost in a familiar place

  • Executive impairment, such as demonstrating poor judgement or organizational skills and having difficulty making decisions
  • Of course, it’s natural to experience some issues with memory loss or slower thinking with age. However, if you’re beginning to worry yourself or others around you, the SAGE test can provide you, your friends, and your family with important answers.

    An early diagnosis can have a huge impact on the success of treatments for various cognitive disorders. It can also serve as an early warning to family members or signal the need for closer attention from caregivers.

    Additionally, abnormal results on the SAGE can potentially lead to an early search for reversible and treatable conditions that can also cause memory loss and cognitive impairment. Strokes, thyroid conditions, and other issues may also impact memory.

    The SAGE test is much less time consuming and expensive than other alternatives, and it’s a quick, easy, and valid way to detect early signs of cognitive impairment.

    How Does the SAGE Test Compare to Similar Assessments?

    To study the validity of the SAGE test, Scharre and other researchers at Ohio State University conducted a study evaluating 254 participants using SAGE and a variety of other well-documented physical, neurological, and cognitive assessment tools.

    All participants in the study were 59 years of age or older.

    In the study, the SAGE test compared favorably to standard cognitive assessments that are not self-administered.

    The SAGE test is perhaps most comparable to the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a brief questionnaire commonly used to screen for dementia and cognitive impairments.

    According to the study, both MMSE and SAGE were able to distinguish subjects with dementia from both the clinically defined normal group and the mild cognitive impairment group. However, only the SAGE test was able to distinguish between the clinically defined normal group and the mild cognitive impairment group.

    How to Take the SAGE Test

    To take the SAGE test, you need access to a computer and printer, as well as a pen. Download the test online, print it, and answer the questions in ink.

    Once you have completed the test, take the answer sheet to your doctor so he can score it and discuss the results with you.

    If you aren’t able to take the test to a doctor right away, the SAGE website does have a “For Physicians” section with information on how to interpret results. Some people also have family members review the test for them. However, an evaluation by a doctor is always the most reliable course of action.

    Depending on the score, your doctor may order additional tests to gather more information. Otherwise, he will keep the test on file as a reference point for the future.

    If you feel you may be experiencing cognitive and memory impairment, the SAGE test can help you get fast answers, allowing for earlier and more effective treatment and other precautions.