October 20, 2020

Baseline tests provide comparisons for student athlete’s suffering possible concussions

The neurocognitive test designed by ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) challenges an athlete’s normal brain functions to determine his baseline score.

The score is determined on the test-taker’s speed and accuracy. The test is taken online and takes an average of about 20 minutes to complete. It is optimal to have groups of 10-15 athletes take the test in a quiet room with supervision by coaches and/or team physicians.

Administers of the test are required to have taken it at least three times before administering it in order to have an understanding of the questions.

Graphic by Victoria Courtney

It is broken down into six sections:

Word discrimination

Twelve target words are presented twice to the test taker in random order. Each word is shown for only three-fourths of a second. Then from a list of 24 words, the test taker selects “yes” or “no” if the word is one of the 12 they were shown.


Similar to the previous section, a list of 12 target designs are shown twice — each design on the screen for only three-fourths of a second. The test taker then tries to pick out the 12 from a list of 24.

Xs and Os

First the test taker will push either the “Q” key if a blue square appears, or the “P” key is a red circle is presented.

Next they are shown for an assortment of Xs and Os with three that are highlighted in yellow for 1.5 seconds. Immediately after they view that screen, the blue square and red circle test reappears and must be completed.

The test-taker must remember the positions of the highlighted Xs and Os on the next screen. The test taker goes through this series four times.

Symbol Matching

Nine symbols are matched with numbers one through nine shown in a grid. At the bottom of the screen, one of the symbols appears and the test taker must select the number it is matched with. They go through 27 symbols.

Color Match

The test taker selects a color: red, blue or green. They are then shown words of different colors in boxes. They must select the boxes that have the word written in the same color as the one they choose.

Letter Memory

A 5×5 grid appears on the screen with numbers from one through 25. In backward order, the test taker must select each number immediately after they are shown three letters, which they must remember.

They then are shown the 25 numbers again and try to complete the task again. After 18 seconds, they are asked to type the three letters they were earlier shown. This series is completed five times.

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