Revised Executive Skills Questionnaire (ESQ-R)

Learn about the Revised Executive Skills Questionnaire (ESQ-R), and how to interpret your results.

What is the ESQ-R?

The ESQ-R is a shortened, revised questionnaire of the ESQ. The ESQ-R is designed to measure your executive skills. Executive skills are related to executive functions which are your ability to initiate, maintain, monitor, adjust and complete goal-directed actions. If you struggle with executive functions, you might have difficulty with things like switching from scrolling on your phone to cooking dinner. While cooking dinner, you might have problems with things like monitoring how long your food has been in the oven or accurately following a recipe. The ESQ-R can help you self-evaluate your executive skills and identify areas that are challenging for you.

What executive skills does the ESQ look at?

The executive skills are all highly related concepts that can be difficult to disentangle. There are, however, some key differences between individual skills.

  • Planning:
  • Planning is a skill broadly concerned with sequencing a project, prioritizing tasks and adapting when required.
  • Time Management:
  • The time management skill refers to your ability to organize yourself around time. For example, monitoring your progress and keeping in line with a deadline.
  • Material Organisation:
  • Material organization refers to your ability to manage physical objects in your life. For example, remembering where you put things or keeping your space tidy.
  • Emotional Regulation:
  • Emotional regulation is a skill which allows you to moderate your emotions. For example, being able to calm yourself down and keep trying when a task becomes frustrating.
  • Behaviour Regulation:
  • Behaviour regulation is a skill which allows you to feel in control of your behaviour. For example, being able to stop yourself from checking your phone while you are completing other tasks.

These executive skills can impact you while you are directly engaged in a task, but can also impact you more passively throughout life. For example, you might have difficulty stopping yourself from interrupting in conversations if you struggle with behaviour regulation.

What is a ‘high-Score’, what is a ‘low score’?

The ESQ-R doesn’t have well-established cut-off scores because it is a new tool, and requires further research and validation. It is best used as a tool to help you reflect on areas of relative strength and challenge. What is most important, is what your score means to you. For example, some people may not feel bothered that their workspace is messy whereas others might feel very overwhelmed by it. As such, it is best to reflect on what your scores mean to you rather than how they numerically compare to others.

Self-Reflection Guidance

You might find it helpful to consider the following two things when reflecting on your scores.

  • If you answered ‘often’ or ‘very often’ to any question - it might indicate that you struggle with that particular skill.
  • How meaningful that score is to you. For some, material organization might not be important but others may feel it is a priority.

Numerical Guidance

Even though this test is best interpreted without comparing scores, we know some people find numbers helpful for reflection. The below numbers show what you would have scored if you had answered ‘often’ or ‘very often’ at least 50% of the time. A lower score may still indicate meaningful struggle for some people, and a higher score may not be meaningful to some individuals. What does this number mean to you?

  • Planning: 11+
  • Time Management: 4+
  • Material Organisation: 3+
  • Emotional Regulation: 3+
  • Behaviour Regulation: 4+

Does a high score mean I have ADHD?

A high-score on the ESQ-R does not mean that you have ADHD. Although most people with ADHD struggle with their executive functions, problems with executive functions occur in many disorders such as depression, anxiety, autism, psychosis and dementia. Because problems with executive functions are not unique to ADHD, the ESQ-R cannot be used as a diagnostic tool.

If you struggle with your executive functions and don’t have an ADHD diagnosis, it is possible your symptoms are caused by a different condition. Getting help for your underlying condition is the best way to feel better. If you cannot get assessed, and feel you struggle with executive functions, many online resources including Stimuli could still help you work on practical self-help strategies. You don’t need a diagnosis to try practical self-help strategies at home, but we always encourage speaking with your GP or care team.

Can I improve my score?

Of course! If your executive functioning problems are caused by ADHD a combination of medication, therapy and practical self-help strategies can help you improve your executive functioning. If your problems are caused by something else, treating the underlying cause while working on practical strategies can help you improve. You may find it helpful to track your results on this quiz over time to help you evaluate your progress.

Is this a well-known and well-respected test?

The ESQ-R is a relatively new test: it was only developed in 2020. As such, it is not as widely used or researched as some other psychometric tests. The current data is promising, but it needs further investigation before we can say more. For example, we need studies showing that scores on the ESQ-R predict real life outcomes. Scientists could investigate whether people who score low on material organisation actually have untidy living spaces or not. This would help us understand whether the test is measuring what we think it is, what score is associated with certain outcomes and whether it is meaningful.