By good, I mean three things:

  1. Accepted by professional doctors/psychologists/psychiatrists.
  2. Has supporting research.
  3. Has an established norm and can tell you where you are relative to the average.

These are the tests I found:

TEST 1: https://www.mindcrowd.org/consent

This seems to be an actual medical test - it displays 12 pairs of words and then shows one word from the pair, the user is expected to type the second word. The test seems to be at least associated with some doctors (team: https://www.mindcrowd.org/#team) working on Alzheimer's research.

TEST 2: https://www.memorylosstest.com/free-working-memory-tests-online/

Just some digit span test - shows you a series of numbers and has you remember them. It seems like this is an acceptable way to test WM given:

thus, the digit span task is a common component of many IQ tests, including the widely used Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). Performance on the digit span task is also closely linked to language learning abilities; improving verbal memory capacities may therefore aid mastery of a new language.


but then there is this quote (tl:dr; Number spans can be gamed to achieve absurdly high results):

However, memory span can be expanded dramatically - in one case to 80 digits - by learning a sophisticated mnemonic system of recoding rules by which substrings of 5 to 10 digits are translated into one new chunk. In December 2015, Lance Tschirhart entered the Guinness Book of World Records for memorizing a sequence of 456 digits spoken aloud at the rate of one per second at the World Memory Championship in Chengdu, China.


TEST 3: http://opencoglab.org/memtest1/ Same as the digit span, except with convoluted images. Imo, this test is flawed because the images are fairly complex and don't necessarily represent a single, familiar "unit". The flaw is in the fact that WM tests are supposed to measure how many "units" of data you can keep in mind.

Anyway, which of these tests are best, is there anything better? If there isn't, what's a good test?

My end goal is to get a decent approximation of my overall WM to see if training improves it.

PS, I did see this post In the digit span test, why do some strategies work and others don't?, which links to (http://pebl.sourceforge.net/), but I have no basis for evaluating the validity of those tests either.

Edit 2: A day in, I found a similar question here: How to reliably measure working memory capacity? I don't believe it to be a duplicate because I am looking for online tests. The third answer down is pretty good though.


2 Answers 2


it will be tricky to study your own improvement in working memory and I wouldn't suggest it! There is substantial research showing that although training can improve performance on specific cognitive tasks (near transfer), there's not too much evidence that a broad construct like working memory can be enhanced by training in the long term (if ever) (Towards a Science of Effective Cognitive Training (1); Do “Brain-Training” Programs Work? (2)).

Therefore, its very possible that you end up not quite measuring your improvement in working memory as it's commonly understood, but rather task performance (Putting brain training to the test (3)). Given this, I would suggest trying to learn something new or practice a skill that you think is interesting! Those could have real-life benefits for you and would likely be more rewarding than improvement in an specific cognitive task! Some people really enjoy video games, for example, while others might be more inclined toward reading, playing music, meditation, or exercise.

However, if you are undeterred by that advice and still want to test your cognition as a result of training, I might suggest looking at narrower outcomes, such as "attention" or "speed of processing" (Systematic review and meta-analyses of useful field of view cognitive training (4)), rather than working memory specifically (working memory is a very elusive subject and target). You can see a variety of memory tasks in the above reference, including some that are grouped as "executive function" (e.g., the n-back task).

And to finally answer your exact question explicitly, CNSVS (website, validation paper (5)) is one neurocognitive testing battery which has been used in clinical situations and can report a standardized score. You can look at a sample report on their website to see how they create a variety of singular test and composite scores. However, just to emphasize, this is not a "diagnostic" test, despite being used in clinical situations.

Just for a more complete story on the scientific and business angles on cognitive training, here (no guarantee this will be available) is a white paper from a brain training company, which I include because it reports results that paint a different picture than the peer-reviewed literature I referenced at the top of this answer (again, just want to emphasize that this answer is not a comprehensive evaluation of the literature, but hopefully somewhat canonical and current).

Hope this helps!

Editing in an update for VSO's questions in the comment, might as well collect more of the recent info here. I'm also taking the liberty of rephrasing/reordering the questions, hope it's not too liberal.

Q. Can one working memory task improvements transfer to other working memory tasks?

A. Maybe, there seems to be some debate in the literature. This (6, preprint) meta-analysis concludes it's possible, but also that the effect did not depend on type of training or dose, so I wonder what the mechanism was. These (7) meta-analyses posit that the effect is mostly in typically developing children, which this (8) meta-analysis also concluded. However, they also found that the effect size is proportional to the similarity of the memory tasks to the original (in typically developing kids maximum mean age 16) here (9).

Q. Are there long-term effects of n-back training on working memory in general?

A. In typically developing children, for whom there may be an effect of cognitive training tasks on other working memory tasks, the size of the effect might be determined by how similar the task is to other tasks (last reference above, 9). There are examples of improving specific skills at all ages though. Thinking about a musician as example (they even do things with their fingers and brains kind of like cognitive tasks). Someone who first starts will get better at specific chords, which will eventually lead to getting better at other chords, but not very much without practicing those other chords. As one practices the n-back, there could be some "n-back" skill that slightly generalizes but the performance seems to track with how similar the tasks are. Here's (10) a meta-analysis for n-back specifically.

  1. Smid, C. R., Karbach, J., & Steinbeis, N. (2020). Toward a science of effective cognitive training. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 29(6), 531-537.
  2. Simons, D. J., Boot, W. R., Charness, N., Gathercole, S. E., Chabris, C. F., Hambrick, D. Z., & Stine-Morrow, E. A. (2016). Do “brain-training” programs work?. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 17(3), 103-186.
  3. Owen, A. M., Hampshire, A., Grahn, J. A., Stenton, R., Dajani, S., Burns, A. S., ... & Ballard, C. G. (2010). Putting brain training to the test. Nature, 465(7299), 775-778.
  4. Edwards, J. D., Fausto, B. A., Tetlow, A. M., Corona, R. T., & Valdés, E. G. (2018). Systematic review and meta-analyses of useful field of view cognitive training. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 84, 72-91.
  5. Gualtieri, C. T., & Johnson, L. G. (2006). Reliability and validity of a computerized neurocognitive test battery, CNS Vital Signs. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 21(7), 623-643.
  6. Rodas, J. A., & Greene, C. (2020). Small Improvements in Working Memory After Cognitive Training do not Transfer to Fluid Intelligence: Evidence From a Meta-analysis.
  7. Sala, G., Aksayli, N. D., Tatlidil, K. S., Tatsumi, T., Gondo, Y., Gobet, F., ... & Verkoeijen, P. (2019). Near and far transfer in cognitive training: A second-order meta-analysis. Collabra: Psychology, 5(1).
  8. Sala, G., & Gobet, F. (2017). Working memory training in typically developing children: A meta-analysis of the available evidence. Developmental Psychology, 53(4), 671.
  9. Sala, G., & Gobet, F. (2020). Working memory training in typically developing children: A multilevel meta-analysis. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 1-12.
  10. Soveri, A., Antfolk, J., Karlsson, L., Salo, B., & Laine, M. (2017). Working memory training revisited: A multi-level meta-analysis of n-back training studies. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 24(4), 1077-1096.
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the response (these additional questions are definitely only if you are interested) - what do you think about claims that n-back training improves WM long term? Do you think transfer to DIFFERENT WM tasks indicates a general WM improvement, or its still too specific? For example dual n-back training, but only TESTING on sequence memorization? Edit: Wow, can't believe i asked this 3 years ago. I have been doing some WM training since (n-back) and had improvements, but never cross-tested, so it may be very task specific. $\endgroup$
    – VSO
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 19:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good answer and welcome to Psychology.SE $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 5:20
  • $\begingroup$ Good answer +1. @VSO Search the forum for answers to your additional questions - for example: Is “brain training” effective? Basically, I wouldn't bother with such training - at most, it will improve your score on the n-back test, but not have any effect on your actual working memory. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 7:32
  • $\begingroup$ Hey @Arnon, I'll get around to posting the update on the brain training question you linked to -- just want to read up a bit first $\endgroup$
    – pep
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 19:44

The best working memory test online is the digit span test at my site here:

The adaptive, forward, and backward digit span tests are designed according to the specifications described in Experiment 2 of this study:

It resolves several issues with the the WAIS digit span subtests, and provides you with an IQ score based on norms listed in the same study.


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