The content of the RBANS consists of neurocognitive test paradigms that are familiar to neuropsychologists, and well-validated in many contexts elsewhere. The subtests are described below:
List Learning: This consists of a list of 10 unrelated words, read for immediate recall over four trials, for a total maximum score of 40. The words are of moderate-high imagery and low age-of-acquisition, thereby reducing possible education effects on performance and easing translation.
Story Memory: This consists of a 12-item story, read for immediate recall over two trials, for a total maximum score of 24. Scoring is based upon verbatim recall, and the stories contained in the different forms of the RBANS follow the same basic structure.
Figure Copy: This consists of the direct copy of a complex geometrical figure, similar to the Rey-Osterrieth figure, but somewhat less demanding. There are 10 components of the figure, and a structured simplified scoring guide (contained on the record form) yields a maximum score of 20. There is an additional detailed scoring guideline and associated transparency available as of 2008 to improve inter-rater reliability in scoring this subtest (this is the only subtest for which scoring is not entirely objective).
Line Orientation: Subjects are shown an array of 13 lines, fanning out from a common point of origin through 180 degrees. For each item, two target lines are shown beneath the array, and subjects must identify which lines they match within the array. There are 10 items, each containing two lines to be matched, for a total maximum score of 20.
Picture Naming: This is a confrontation naming task, with 10 line drawings of objects that must be named by the subject.
Semantic Fluency: Subjects are given 60” to provide as many exemplars as they can from a given semantic category (e.g., fruits and vegetables).
Digit Span: This is a classic digit repetition test of working memory, with stimulus items increasing in length from 2 digits to 9 digits. Items are administering in order of length, and the test is discontinued after failure of two items at a given string length.
Coding: This processing speed subtest is very similar to the Digit Symbol subtest of the Wechsler scales. Subjects must fill in digits corresponding to shapes as quickly as they can on the basis of a coding key. After completing practice items, subjects have 90” to complete as many items as they can.
List Learning Free Recall: Free recall of the words from the initial List Learning subtest (max=10).
List Learning Recognition: Yes/No recognition for the words from List Learning, with 10 foils (max=20).
Story Memory Free Recall: Free recall of the story from the Story Memory subtest (max=12).
Figure Free Recall: Free recall of the Figure from the Figure Copy subtest (max=20).
The raw scores from the subtests are scaled together to create index scores, and these are summed for conversion to a total scale score. The scaling tables are contained in the stimulus booklets, and computation of index scores requires less than 5 minutes.