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Trump's Cognitive Test Asked Him to Draw a Clock and Remember What a Lion Is Called

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment is an effective test for detecting early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, but it doesn’t determine if you’re a “very stable genius.”
Trump rally in Ottumwa Iowa on 1/9/2016 Image: Evan Guest/Flickr

President Donald Trump passed his annual presidential physical with flying colors, including an additional cognition test administered at the president’s request, according to Trump’s physician.

The cognitive test was the well-regarded Montreal Cognitive Assessment, Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician said at a press conference Tuesday. And the president got a perfect 30/30 score, according to Jackson.


“I’ve found no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought processes,” Jackson said.

Developed in 1996 by Lebanese Canadian Dr. Ziad Nasreddine, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment—or MoCA—consists of 13 relatively simple exercises that allows doctors to detect early signs of mild cognitive impairment or early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Though the questions, which include drawing a clock, recalling the names of animals like lions and rhinos, and knowing what day of the week it is, may seem simplistic, it’s an effective tool for measuring cognitive decline.

Studies have shown the MoCA can detect mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s with remarkably high accuracy, as high as 100 percent in one study. All you have to do is look at the results from patients who are living with cognitive decline to realize that what seems like a simple task to you gets much more complicated when coping with early Alzheimer’s disease:

Jackson noted that he had not planned on doing a cognitive assessment, and it’s not a normal part of the annual check-up, but said President Trump had specifically asked for one in order to put speculation about his mental fitness to rest. After a year of often bizarre behavior, occasional slurred speech, and the claims made in the book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff about Trump’s team questioning his mental capacity, there’s been lots of speculation about the president’s mental health. In response to this speculation, Trump famously tweeted that he is “like, really smart,” and a “stable genius.” Hoping to prove this, Trump insisted on the cognitive test.

Here’s the thing: while a totally valid test, the MoCA doesn’t test IQ, determine if a person is smart or a “stable genius,” and it’s not designed to determine whether someone has the temperament to be president. It doesn’t screen for mental illnesses or emotional disorders. It proves that Trump knows what day of the week it is, and can remember a string of five words, but not much beyond that.

While it’s certainly comforting that the President was able to ace this test and prove he is not likely to be suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s far from the final verdict on the Commander in Chief’s state of mind.

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