Introduction: The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) accurately differentiates mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from mild dementia and normal controls (NC). While the MoCA is validated in multiple clinical settings, few studies compare it with similar tests also designed to detect MCI. We sought to investigate how the shorter Quick Mild Cognitive Impairment (Qmci) screen compares with the MoCA. Methods: Consecutive referrals presenting with cognitive complaints to a teaching hospital geriatric clinic (Fremantle, Western Australia) underwent a comprehensive assessment and were classified as MCI (n = 72) or dementia (n = 109). NC (n = 41) were a sample of convenience. The Qmci and MoCA were scored by trained geriatricians, in random order, blind to the diagnosis. Results: Median Qmci scores for NC, MCI and dementia were 69 (+/−19), 52.5 (+/−12) and 36 (+/−14), respectively, compared with 27 (+/−5), 22 (+/−4) and 15 (+/−7) for the MoCA. The Qmci more accurately identified cognitive impairment (MCI or dementia), area under the curve (AUC) 0.97, than the MoCA (AUC 0.92), p = 0.04. The Qmci was non-significantly more accurate in distinguishing MCI from controls (AUC 0.91 vs 0.84, respectively = 0.16). Both instruments had similar accuracy for differentiating MCI from dementia (AUC of 0.91 vs 0.88, p = 0.35). At the optimal cut-offs, calculated from receiver operating characteristic curves, the Qmci (≤57) had a sensitivity of 91% and specificity of 93% for cognitive impairment, compared with 87% sensitivity and 80% specificity for the MoCA (≤23). Conclusion: While both instruments are accurate in detecting MCI, the Qmci is shorter and arguably easier to complete, suggesting that it is a useful instrument in an Australian geriatric outpatient population. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.