Neurologists often struggle to interpret the results of neuropsychological testing, even though cognitive assessments are an integral component of the diagnostic process in dementia syndromes. This article reviews the principles underlying clinical neuropsychology, background on common neuropsychological tests, and tips on how to interpret the results when assessing patients with dementia. General cognitive screening tools, appropriate for use by general neurologists and psychiatrists, as well as specific cognitive tests examining the main cognitive domains (attention and orientation, memory, visuospatial function, language and executive function) in patients with dementia are considered. Finally, the pattern of deficits, helpful in defining clinical dementia phenotypes and sometimes in predicting the underlying molecular pathology, are outlined. Such clinicopathological associations will become invaluable as disease-modifying treatments for dementia are developed and implemented.