What’s Your ACE – Adverse Childhood Experience – Score? Take The Quiz

Editor’s Note:  Because this test and insights are a developing project at ACEs Too High, please visit their site for the extensive research as well as the What’s Your Resilience Score Quiz at the bottom of this page.  

Please also watch the Resilience documentary trailer and find more resources here.

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  6. Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason ?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?   No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score


Now that you’ve got your ACE score, what does it mean?

First….a tiny bit of background to help you figure this out…..(if you want the back story about the fascinating origins of the ACE Study, read The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — the largest, most important public health study you never heard of — began in an obesity clinic.)

The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Studyuncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.

The first research results were published in 1998, followed by 57 other publications through 2011. They showed that:

  • childhood trauma was very common, even in employed white middle-class, college-educated people with great health insurance;
  • there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence;
  • more types of trauma increased the risk of health, social and emotional problems.
  • people usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse.

A whopping two thirds of the 17,000 people in the ACE Study had an ACE score of at least one – 87 percent of those had more than one. Eighteen states have done their own ACE surveys; their results are similar to the CDC’s ACE Study.


The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems. (Of course, other types of trauma exist that could contribute to an ACE score, so it is conceivable that people could have ACE scores higher than 10; however, the ACE Study measured only 10 types.)

As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.

(By the way, lest you think that the ACE Study was yet another involving inner-city poor people of color, take note: The study’s participants were 17,000 mostly white, middle and upper-middle class college-educated San Diegans with good jobs and great health care – they all belonged to the Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization.)

Here are some specific graphic examples of how increasing ACE scores increase the risk of some diseases, social and emotional problems. All of these graphs come from “The relationship of adverse childhood experiences to adult health, well being, social function and health care”, a book chapter by Drs. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda, co-founders of the ACE Study, in “The Hidden Epidemic: The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease.”

Read the full article here.



ACE Interface is a Limited Liability Corporation that provides products and services to people who are committed to doing everything necessary to accelerate the intergenerational changes that will improve health and quality of life.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. The study is a collaboration between the Centers for

ACEsConnection is a social networking site for all people interested in implementing ACEs-, trauma-informed, and resilience-building practices.

Aces Too High is a news site for the general public on all things ACEs-, trauma-informed, and resilience-building.

This 6-part series was designed with the primary care practice in mind – those who may or may not be familiar with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the process of asking families about exposure to ACEs or other traumatic events.


Photo Shutterstock/AAR Studios.

  1. carla says


    so i scored 7 on the test
    (could be 9 depending on a lost memory and biological connection)
    so what do i do now?#

    1. Kindred Media and Community says

      Thank you for asking! Here is a link to help interpret the score and what you do next: https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/

      The bottom half of the article explains what your score means and there are resources listed there to follow up with your inquiry and share with your community – including your health practitioners!

    2. Ron says

      I Scored a solid 7 also, now what?

      1. Kindred Media and Community says

        The bottom half of the article explains what your score means and there are resources listed there to follow up with your inquiry and share with your community – including your health practitioners!

    3. Kindred Media and Community says

      The bottom half of the article explains what your score means and there are resources listed there to follow up with your inquiry and share with your community – including your health practitioners!

  2. Virginia Regan says

    I scored 10 and had other major traumas that weren’t mentioned. Is there a longer questionnaire for people with long standing complex childhood trauma? I’m now 45 and my doctors are struggling to work out what is causing my physical symptoms, I suspect it’s that my sympathetic nervous system is always set to full and my body is giving up on me. My physical health is perfect as far as the tests are concerned.

    1. Kindred Media and Community says

      The bottom half of the article explains what your score means and there are resources listed there to follow up with your inquiry and share with your community – including your health practitioners!

  3. Mike says

    The health risks are associated mainly because of behaviors Associated with individuals with a high score . Many individuals will employ Coping mechanisms ,Such as overeating ,Drug abuse ,Alcohol abuse ,Risky lifestyle choices . The fact that you are even looking this Test up and doing this test puts you maybe in a different category Then those who are not self-aware Or and seeking help Change Risky behaviors , My score was very high as to be expected as both my parents are Narcissists One of which is a covert narcissist . Overeating has become my coping mechanism Sadly I have become susceptible to all the associated health risks ,high blood-pressure ,Fatty liver Lower back problems . I am struggling to change this behavior. I have been for a while without much success but I’m still trying .

  4. Paula says

    It follows that These scores will be much higher in inner cities where there is a great deal of violence, fatherlessness, substance abuse, incarceration, etc.

    1. Madeline says

      Once an individual is exposed to enough trauma the implications are universal, the study is interested in the higher health risks associated with trauma exposure. The study focuses on the outcomes.

  5. Chris says

    What is the percentage of people in US that have 10 male or female?

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