The Executive Skills Questionnaire–Revised (ESQ–R) is a self-report instrument designed to assess your executive skill strengths and challenges. Executive function skills enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, juggle multiple tasks successfully, and self-regulate.
|Authors:||Julia Strait & Peg Dawson|
|Seminal paper:||Refinement and Psychometric Evaluation of the Executive Skills Questionnaire–Revised (Strait et al., 2019)|
|Seminal paper:||Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents (3rd ed. 2018) (originally published as the 2nd edition in 2010)|
Take the test here:
Who the test is designed for
Adults (age 14+) judged to have an IQ in the normal range (IQ >=80).
- This rating scale should appeal to professionals within both education and mental health. These include school psychologists, school counselors, school social workers, and teachers—both general education and special education teachers.
What it tests
The ESQ–R gives an indication of the nature of your own executive skills, and identifies both areas of strength and areas of weakness.Executive skills in children and adolescents: A practical guide to assessment and intervention (Dawson & Guare, 2018)
Unlike the ESQ, the ESQ–R is a scientifically verified instrument, which integrates the current scientific understanding of core executive function processes with a valid understanding of executive function skills.
While the ESQ consisted of 11 factors of executive function,Executive Skills Questionnaire | REDFworkshop the ESQ–R reduced it down to the following five:Refinement and Psychometric Evaluation of the Executive Skills Questionnaire-Revised (Strait et al., 2019)
- Plan management: The ability to create and manage plans for accomplishing tasks and includes individual executive skills such as planning/prioritizing, sustained attention, flexibility, metacognition, and goal-directed persistence.
- Time management: The ability to manage various aspects of time, including time estimating, time allocation, the ability to work within time constraints, task initiation, and working memory.
- Organization: The ability to create and maintain systems, keep track of information or materials, and incorporates the executive skills of organization and working memory.
- Emotion regulation: The ability to manage emotions to achieve goals, complete tasks, or control and direct behavior.
- Behavior regulation: The ability to exhibit self-control, to think before acting or responding to consider the consequences of one’s actions and includes the executive skills of response inhibition and goal-directed persistence.
Versions & translations
Currently, there is only one test, as research on the ESQ–R is ongoing.
Taking the test
The ESQ–R is a quick 25-item online survey. The results will be tabulated, and the data will be forwarded to the person responsible for overseeing the survey (e.g. teacher, clinician, or researcher).
The ESQ–R gives you four choices for each of the 25 statements, each with a corresponding score value.
- Very Often
- Never or Rarely
Data “norms” for what is typical in any of the five skill areas are as yet, unknown. Generally speaking, scores in the 2–3 range for skill area averages and individual items can be considered a relative weakness. Scores between 0 and 1 describe a relative strength. Items rated as 2 or 3 are worthy of discussion because it means you likely face challenges in this area often or very often.
For more information on how to score your answers, have a look at the scoring sheet (p. 3–4) in the ESQ–R document listed above.
Although there is no large-scale normative data, the ESQ–R has been employed to determine its psychometric properties.
- Statistical analysis of the ESQ–R yields strong reliability and validity correlations and, through analysis, identifies 5 skill areas that appear to represent discrete and independent executive skill domains.Refinement and Psychometric Evaluation of the Executive Skills Questionnaire-Revised (Strait et al., 2019) See the Definitions section below for information on these five domains.
- Using Classical Test Theory (CTT), internal consistency estimates were as follows:Refinement and Psychometric Evaluation of the Executive Skills Questionnaire-Revised (Strait et al., 2019)
- Cronbach’s alpha = .91 (an alpha value of .80–.90 indicates excellent internal consistency; values above .90 indicate there is some redundancy)What is the acceptable range for Cronbach alpha test of reliability? | ResearchGate
- Guttman split-half coefficient = .91 (indicating excellent internal consistency reliability)What are the boundaries for reliability Guttmann’s lambda 2? | ResearchGate
- Test–retest reliability was found to be .70 for Time 1 and Time 2, which is adequate (values of .70 and above are satisfactory)What is the acceptable value for test retest reliability of a psychological test? | ResearchGate
- ESQ–R total scores show correlations with:Refinement and Psychometric Evaluation of the Executive Skills Questionnaire-Revised (Strait et al., 2019)
- Other executive function measures (.56–.74)
- Psychological symptom measures (.38–.55)
- Student academic engagement (−.40)
Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht:
I found it confusing to have to enter a code to take the test, and had to search around a bit before seeing that it was at the bottom. As such, we created a document where you can easily score yourself without needing to enter any codes.
What I think is important to note is that research A review of executive function deficits in autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Craig et al., 2017) showed:
that ADHD (but not autism) had:
• Difficulty with response inhibition (impulsivity).
While autism (but not ADHD) had:
- Difficulty with flexibility
- Difficulty with planning
The statements are simple, clear, and readily understood. However, there is quite a bit of subjectivity involved when it comes to responding to the statements. For example, “I have a short fuse” can mean something different for me than it does for you, and we won’t necessarily agree on what constitutes ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ either. I may have a short fuse twice per month and consider that often, while someone else experiences it daily and would say ‘sometimes’. The ESQ had a choice of 7 answers, and consequently, each answer had a narrower range of interpretation, and thus less subjectivity.
I scored consistently below 2 on all five factors, so I guess my executive function skills are better than I thought. I did score 1.75 on time management, and 1.45 on plan management, and those are definitely my core problem areas. This is also consistent with my results on the ESQ, where I scored lowest on time management and task initiation, the latter of which is part of time management on the ESQ–R.
I did observe two things that confuse me quite a bit. Firstly, although 5 of the statements are about behavior in relation to tasks, I feel none of the statements have anything whatsoever to do with task initiation specifically. So while I appreciate that the researchers used scientific methods to reduce an initial 61 items down to 25, and managed to reduce Dawson & Guare’s 11-factor model down to a 5-factor model, I get a distinct impression that the ESQ–R overlooks some things. Task initiation seems too significant of a factor not to include in the test.
I also noticed that in the behavioral regulation category, I scored 0 on each item except for item #25, where I scored a 3. And remember, a 3 indicates an area of weakness. But what does item #25 say? “I live for the moment.” Perhaps I’m missing something, but what does this have to do with executive function? More specifically, what about this shows a relative weakness? I have no clue how to interpret this. But given that this one item makes up 1/4 of the total behavioral regulation factor score, I am skeptical about how meaningful this number really is. Maybe the last four factors (time management, organization, emotional regulation, and behavioral regulation) should consist of more than 3–4 items each. Again, I get the impression the ESQ–R is missing some things.
Ultimately I am a bit underwhelmed by the results of the test. They seem accurate, but the ESQ’s 11 factors offered a lot more insight into specific problem areas and strengths. And each factor was scored on a 21-point scale, whereas the ESQ–R’s factors are scored on a 3-point scale. So even the scale showed a lot more nuance in the ESQ. Or rather, it was easier to interpret.
The ESQ–R seems to be a good instrument, and it may have a firmer scientific basis than the ESQ does. But when it comes to which instrument is more helpful to the layman, I would definitely go for the ESQ instead.
Recommended next steps
After the ESQ–R, consider taking one of the tests below.
Measures camouflaging, and can account
for lower scores on other autism tests
Identifies ADHD in adults
Identifies neurodivergence and
potential co-occurring conditions
Online autism tests can play an essential role in the process of self-discovery, and may inform your decision to pursue a formal diagnosis. For a formal assessment, please see a knowledgeable medical professional trained in assessing autism.
If you are looking for an autism assessment,
Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht can offer help!
You can find more information here: