Conners Scale

You may have noticed that your child has difficulty in school or problems socializing with other children. If so, you may suspect that your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. Your doctor may recommend your child see a psychologist for further diagnostic assessments.

The psychologist may ask you to complete a Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scales (Conners CBRS) parent form if they agree that your child shows typical ADHD behaviors.

Psychologists must gather details about your child’s home life to properly diagnose ADHD. A Conners CBRS parent form will ask you a series of questions about your child. This helps your psychologist gain a full understanding of their behaviors and habits. By analyzing your responses, your psychologist can better determine whether or not your child has ADHD. They can also look for signs of other emotional, behavioral, or academic disorders. These disorders can include depression, aggression, or dyslexia.

Short and Long Versions

The Conners CBRS is suitable in assessing children ages 6 to 18. There are three Conners CBRS forms:

  • one for parents
  • one for teachers
  • one that’s a self-report to be completed by the child

These forms ask questions that help screen for emotional, behavioral, and academic disorders. Together they help create a comprehensive inventory of a child’s behaviors. The multiple-choice questions range from “How often does your child have trouble going to sleep at night?” to “How hard is it to focus on a homework assignment?”

These forms are often distributed to schools, pediatric offices, and treatment centers to screen for ADHD. Conners CBRS forms help to diagnose children who otherwise may have been overlooked. They also help children who have ADHD understand the severity of their disorder.

The Conners Clinical Index (Conners CI) is a shorter 25-question version. The form can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour and a half to complete, depending on which version you’re asked to fill out.

The long versions are often used as initial evaluations when ADHD is suspected. The short version can be used to monitor your child’s response to treatment over time. No matter which version is used, the key purposes of the Conners CBRS are to:

  • measure hyperactivity in children and adolescents
  • provide a perspective on a child’s behavior from people who interact closely with the child on a regular basis
  • help your healthcare team develop an intervention and treatment plan for your child
  • establish an emotional, behavioral, and academic baseline before beginning therapy and medication
  • offer standardized clinical information to support any decisions made by your doctor 
  • classify and qualify students for inclusion or exclusion in special education programs or research studies

The psychologist will interpret and summarize the results for each child, and review the findings with you. Comprehensive reports can be prepared and sent to your child’s doctor, with your permission.  

How the Test Is Used

The Conners CBRS is one of the many ways to screen for ADHD in children and adolescents. But it’s not only used to test for the disorder. Conners CBRS forms can be used during follow-up appointments to rate the behavior of a child with ADHD. This can help doctors and parents monitor how well certain medications or behavior-modification techniques are working. Doctors may want to prescribe a different drug if no improvements have been made. Parents may also want to adopt new behavior-modification techniques.

Talk to your doctor about taking the test if you suspect that your child may have ADHD. It’s not a definitive or purely objective test, but it can be a useful step in understanding your child’s disorder.


Your child’s doctor will evaluate the results after you complete your Conners CBRS-parent form. The form compiles scores in each of the following areas:

  • emotional distress
  • aggressive behaviors
  • academic difficulties
  • language difficulties
  • math difficulties
  • hyperactivity
  • social problems
  • separation fears
  • perfectionism
  • compulsive behaviors
  • violence potential
  • physical symptoms

Your child’s psychologist will total the scores from each area of the test. They will assign the raw scores to the correct age group column within each scale. The scores are then converted to standardized scores, known as T-scores. T-scores are also converted into percentile scores. Percentile scores can help you see how severe your child’s ADHD symptoms are compared to other children’s symptoms. Lastly, your child’s doctor will put the T-scores into graph form so that they can interpret them visually.

Your doctor will tell you what your child’s T-scores mean.

  • T-scores above 60 are usually a sign your child may have an emotional, behavioral, or academic problem, such as ADHD.
  • T-scores from 61 to 70 are usually a sign that your child’s emotional, behavioral, or academic problems are slightly atypical, or moderately severe.
  • T-scores above 70 are usually a sign that the emotional, behavioral, or academic problems are very atypical, or more severe.

A diagnosis of ADHD depends on the areas of the Conners CBRS in which your child scores atypically and how atypical their scores are.


As with all psychological evaluation tools, the Conners CBRS has its limitations. Those who use the scale as a diagnostic tool for ADHD run the risk of incorrectly diagnosing the disorder or failing to diagnose the disorder. Experts recommend using the Conners CBRS with other diagnostic measures, such as ADHD symptom checklists and attention-span tests.

If you suspect that your child may have ADHD, talk to your doctor about seeing a specialist, such as a psychologist. Your psychologist may recommend that you complete a Conners CBRS. It’s not a purely objective test, but it can help you understand your child’s disorder.