What are ADHD rating scales?

By Margie DeSantis

Expert reviewed by Andrew Kahn, PsyD

Updated March 29, 2023

What are ADHD rating scales?, psychiatry LTD testing

At a glance

  • An ADHD rating scale is a key part of an ADHD evaluation.

  • It’s a series of questions that ask you to rate how much ADHD symptoms impact your daily life.

  • Parents and teachers fill it out for kids. Older kids, teens, and adults fill it out for themselves.

If you’re getting evaluated for ADHD, the term rating scale may come up a lot. This is one of the key parts of an ADHD evaluation. An ADHD rating scale asks you to rate how often or how severely ADHD symptoms impact your daily life. 

The questions focus on different behaviors, like trouble with focus or impulse control. You may be asked to pick a number on a rating scale or to choose from answers like “never,” “occasionally,” “often,” or “very often.” 

Who fills out ADHD rating scales

Adults and teens who are being evaluated for ADHD will be asked to fill out the rating scale themselves. Evaluators may ask some older kids to fill out the questionnaire too. It can be filled out at home or in person with an evaluator.

It’s also common for evaluators to ask other people to fill out rating scales. Parents and teachers do this as part of an ADHD evaluation for a child. For adults, asking a spouse, a parent, or a close friend to fill out a rating scale can provide helpful perspective, too. 

Different kinds of ADHD rating scales

There are different kinds of ADHD rating scales. But they all have the same goal of gauging ADHD behaviors. For example, the Conners ADHD rating scales have a version for adults that is different from the one for kids and teens. 

There is no best version. Evaluators tend to use whichever ADHD rating scale they like the most. 

Rating scales play a key role in ADHD testing. It’s also important to look at the patient’s history and ask open-ended questions during a one-on-one interview. All of this helps the evaluator decide if a person qualifies for an ADHD diagnosis.

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