Discover 3 Tests to Evaluate Attention

Attention is an essential cognitive process in the development of daily life. So, today we want to tell you about three tests that evaluate attention.
Discover 3 Tests to Evaluate Attention

Last update: 07 January, 2021

According to neuropsychologists Marcos Ríos Lago and José A. Periáñez Morales, attention is the mental ability to produce and maintain a state of activation that allows for adequate information processing. In fact, it can be considered a fundamental cognitive process for the proper functioning of children and young people. This is especially true when they have to demonstrate their academic performance. But how can we know what a student’s level of attention is? Currently, there are various tests to evaluate attention. Here are some of them.

It’s important to note that there are several types of attention. In this article, we’ll describe three different tests to assess sustained, selective, and divided attention in children and young people. These tests have in common that they’re short, simple, and easy to apply.

3 tests to evaluate attention

Toulouse-Piéron test to evaluate sustained attention

The Toulouse-Piéron test is applicable for children ages 12. It’s useful in evaluating sustained attention, as it requires great concentration and resistance to monotony.

Discover 3 Tests to Evaluate Attention

The test lasts ten minutes. During this time, the child must point out on a sheet of paper those “squares” that have a dash placed perpendicularly to one of the sides. At the top of the page appear two larger scale models that serve as a guide.

The template consists of 1,600 squares, that is, 40 rows of 40 elements. Of these 1,600 squares, only 10 in each row is equal to one of the models.

Before the child or young person receives this template, they should receive a smaller one for one minute. This will serve as an example in order to assure that the child has correctly understood the exercise they need to carry out.

Stroop Color and Word Test to assess selective attention

The Stroop Color and Word Test is an instrument for assessing selective attention in children ages 7 and up. It consists of three templates, each containing 100 elements distributed in five columns of 20 elements:

  • First template: In this template, the items are the words “red”, “green” and “blue”, which appear in a random order. None of the words appear consecutively and all appear in black ink. During the test, the child or youngster should read the color names on the template aloud and as quickly as possible. What’s more, they must do so reading each column downward for a duration of 45 seconds.
  • Second template: In this case, the template consists of 100 equal elements, which are a series of X’s (XXXX). Rather than appearing in black ink, they now appear in blue, green or red ink. Again, their order is random, and no color appears twice in a row in the same column. This task is similar to the previous one but, in this case, the test taker must say the color that they see aloud and as quickly as possible. Again, the child must read the columns downward and has 45 seconds to do so.
  • Third template: This template consists of color names (red, green and blue) that appear in a color that doesn’t match the written word. For example, the word RED may appear in green ink. Now, the child or youth must say the color of the ink, aloud, reading each column downward. And, again, they have 45 seconds to get as far as possible.
Discover 3 Tests to Evaluate Attention

Trail Making Test to assess divided attention

The Trail Making Test (TMT) is used to evaluate divided attention in children ages 9 years and up. This test consists of two parts, A and B. The first part contains numbers from 1 to 25 while the second part contains numbers from 1 to 13 and letters from A to L randomly arranged on a sheet of paper:

  • Part A: The child must join the number by means of a line, without lifting the pencil from the paper, in ascending order (1-2-3…).
  • Part B: The child must join the numbers and letters in the same way, in ascending order, and alternatively (1-A, 2-B, 3-C…).

To conduct the test correctly and to make sure the child or youth has understood the instructions, they must first receive an example from part A. After making sure they have no questions about the task they must perform, they turn over the sheet and begin this part of the test. The test is timed, and the time it takes the individual to complete the task is recorded.

Part B of the test takes place in much the same manner, verifying first that the child understands perfectly what they must do. Once understanding is confirmed, the test begins, and the time it takes the child to complete the task is recorded.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Cordero, A., Seisdedos, N., Gonzáles, M. y de la Cruz, M. (1986). Toulouse-Pieron (Prueba Perceptiva y de Atención). Madrid: TEA.
  • Golden, C.J. (2005). STROOP: Test de colores y palabras. Madrid: TEA Ediciones, S. A.
  • Hamdan, A.C. y Hamdan, E.M.L. (2009). Effects of age and education level on the Trail Making Test in a healthy Brazilian sample. Psychology and Neuroscience2(2), 199-203.
  • Tombaugh, T.N. (2004). Trail Making Test A and B: Normative data stratified by age and education. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology19(2), 203-214.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.