Symptom Tests for Adults

[Self-Test] Do You Have a Working Memory Deficit?

Working memory, which is critical to executive functioning, is where you store short-term information you need to complete a task. Learn whether your short-term memory problems could be signs of a working memory deficit.

You use your working memory (also called short-term memory) hundreds of times every day. When you mentally prepare a list before going to the store or think about what you want to accomplish at work, you are using your working memory. It is an area of the brain where you store bits of information you plan on using again in the near future.

For people with working memory deficits, this area in their brains is more like a loosely woven basket where items consistently slip through the cracks. You go to the store with the list in your head—and come home having forgotten most of the items. You have a plan of action in your mind at the beginning of the day—and realize that you have not accomplished, or even thought about, several items on your list by the end of the day.

A weak working memory is the reason you might resist participating in conversations — you can’t remember what you wanted to say. It could be the reason you sometimes have to reread a paragraph several times before you can move on—you are trying to commit it to memory.

Those with working memory deficits often use external sources to help them keep track of their thoughts. They have learned that their basket simply won’t keep things inside. Instead, they rely on written notes, the help of others, or have learned to “fake it” when all else fails.

This self-test is designed to determine whether you show symptoms similar to those from a working memory deficit. If you have concerns about possible working memory problems, see a health professional. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation. This self-test is for personal use only.

You have a hard time managing large projects. Even when you break them down into steps, you find you miss steps or end up spending too much time on tasks that don’t have much importance.

You are often accused of not listening because you don’t follow through on tasks you are asked to do.

You constantly misplace your cell phone. You feel like you waste time every day looking for your phone and other misplaced items like keys or glasses.

You are completing a task with several steps, such as getting the trash, taking it outside, and then putting a new bag in the trash can. You usually forget the last step.

You are having a conversation with a friend. You find it difficult to follow the conversation, forgetting what your friend said just moments before.

In the morning, you usually rush around to get ready for work but still often end up being late.

You have a hard time remembering people’s names, even if you have met them multiple times.

When you read something, you usually end up going back to re-read the prior section because you can’t remember it.

You plan to complete some work at home and pack up the items you need at the end of your workday. When you sit down to do the work, you realize that you forgot to bring home several critical items.

You have something you want to ask your friend, but she is on the phone and you must wait a few minutes before asking. By the time she is finished, you completely forget what you wanted to ask.

(Optional) Would you like to receive your working memory symptom test results — plus more helpful resources — via email from ADDitude?

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Working Memory Deficits in Adults: Next Steps

1. Take This Test: Executive Function Disorder in Adults
2. ReadAn Absurdly Easy Solution to Your Poor Working Memory
3. Take This Test: Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Adults
4. Take This Test: Autism Symptom Test for Adults
5. Take This TestADHD / ADD Symptoms in Adults
6. Download: “Could You Have an Executive Function Deficit?”