On Symbol Trails, the examinee did Trials 1 & 2 correctly, but did not follow the instructions on the actual scored task. The examinee kept repeating “circle to triangle,” but she drew the lines in a scattered fashion, not paying attention to connecting circles to triangles or connecting objects of increasing size. According to the scoring criteria, the examinee completed 7 lines correct. Is the score actually 7? Should she consider the subtest to be spoiled?
If the examiner follows the guidelines for instructions to the examinee, credit should be given for the lines connected correctly. The score is indeed a 7 and scoring procedures should be followed and reported. At the same time, the clinician needs to make a judgment whether or not that score appears to be reflective of intentional performance or not and qualify those concerns in the report. Certainly, the verbal repetition “circle to triangle” could be an indicator of lack of attention and “random drawing” (which ended up being rather accurate in this case), or it could simply be verbal rehearsal and a perseverating self-monitoring strategy during the task. Only the clinician giving the test can make the best judgment about that. The scoring, however, is based on actual performance given correct administration procedures.