Jul 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump defends taking cognitive test, claims questions get "very hard"

President Trump accused "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace of misrepresenting the difficulty of a cognitive test that he recently took, claiming: "The first two questions are easy, but I bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions. They get very hard."

Why it matters: Trump has accused his opponent Joe Biden of being mentally incompetent and unable to serve as president because of his alleged cognitive decline. As Wallace pointed out, a Fox News poll found 47% of respondents believe Biden has the mental soundness to serve effectively, compared to 43% who believe the same of Trump.

The exchange:

TRUMP: "Let's take a test right now. Let's go down. Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took."
WALLACE: "Incidentally, I took the test too when I heard that you passed it. It's not – well it's not the hardest test. They have a picture and it says “what’s that” and it’s an elephant."
TRUMP: "No, no, no. ... You see, that's all misrepresentation."
WALLACE: "Well, that's what it was on the web."
TRUMP: "It's all misrepresentation. Because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions. I'll bet you couldn't, they get very hard, the last five questions."
WALLACE: "Well, one of them was count back from 100 by seven."
TRUMP: "Let me tell you ... you couldn't answer -- you couldn't answer many of the questions."
WALLACE: "Ok, what's the question?"
TRUMP: "I'll get you the test, I'd like to give it. But I guarantee you that Joe Biden could not answer those questions."

How it works: The Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or MoCA, screens for mild cognitive dysfunction. It measures areas such as attention and concentration, executive functions, memory, language among others. A score of 26 out of 30 is considered normal.

Editor's note: Updates with details on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

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