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Br J Clin Psychol. 1998 Nov;37 ( Pt 4):457-66.

The Modified Card Sorting Test: test-retest stability and relationships with demographic variables in a healthy older adult sample.

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  • 1Centre for Magnetic Resonance, University of Queensland, Australia.



To investigate the test-retest stability of a standardized version of Nelson's (1976) Modified Card Sorting Test (MCST) and its relationships with demographic variables in a sample of healthy older adults.


A standard card order and administration were devised for the MCST and administered to participants at an initial assessment, and again at a second session conducted a minimum of six months later in order to examine its test-retest stability. Participants were also administered the WAIS-R at initial assessment in order to provide a measure of psychometric intelligence.


Thirty-six (24 female, 12 male) healthy older adults aged 52 to 77 years with mean education 12.42 years (SD = 3.53) completed the MCST on two occasions approximately 7.5 months (SD = 1.61) apart. Stability coefficients and test-retest differences were calculated for the range of scores. The effect of gender on MCST performance was examined. Correlations between MCST scores and age, education and WAIS-R IQs were also determined.


Stability coefficients ranged from .26 for the percent perseverative errors measures to .49 for the failure to maintain set measure. Several measures were significantly correlated with age, education and WAIS-R IQs, although no effect of gender on MCST performance was found.


None of the stability coefficients reached the level required for clinical decision making. The results indicate that participants' age, education, and intelligence need to be considered when interpreting MCST performance. Normative studies of MCST performance as well as further studies with patients with executive dysfunction are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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