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The Wonderlic Test and the NFL Draft


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20 Year Member
I received this information from Adam Henige who correlates the test to the performance of NFL players in the draft. They are offering a $200 gift card as a prize to the best performance by a fan. Details are below.
The Wonderlic Test and the NFL Draft
From February 27th to March 5th the top prospects in the NFL draft were invited to Lucas Oil Stadium to do their best to impress NFL scouts. Each year before the NFL draft prospects display their ability to run, throw, lift and jump. Beyond players’ physical attributes, scouts are also concerned about one more piece of critical information – intelligence. In some form or another, NFL teams have been using the Wonderlic test as their baseline test for players’ cognitive ability since the 1970s.

So, What is the Wonderlic test?
For as much press coverage as this test gets when scores begin to leak each year, not many people really know what the test is. Named after its creator, E.F. Wonderlic, the Wonderlic test is a timed test where subjects are given 12 minutes to answer 50 multiple choice questions. If that sounds like a lot of questions in a short period of time, you’re right. To finish the test on time one must average less than 15 seconds per question, and to score well you’ll need to process information quickly. If you’d like to see how you’d perform on such a test, you can follow the link to try a timed 50 question Wonderlic test.

Question types range from knowledge of the English language, to word problems, to logic, to basic mathematics. Below is a sample Wonderlic question:

Which following list of odd numbers totals 48?

· 5, 7, 9, 11, 16
· 9, 11, 13, 15
· 7, 11, 13, 23
· 13, 15, 17, 19
· 11, 12, 15, 18

As you can see, the question is a little tricky as the first answer totals 48 but includes an even number. The second answer is the correct answer, but to find the correct answer requires close attention to the wording and the ability to quickly crunch the numbers.

Test takers receive one point for every correct answer, so the highest possible score is a 50 and the lowest is a zero. The average score on the Wonderlic test, depending on your information source, is either 20 or 21. Pat McInally, a former punter for the Cincinnati Bengals who went to college at Harvard, is the only player to ever score a perfect fifty on the test.

Does the Wonderlic Score Impact Player Performance?
This debate has raged on for years, but there hasn’t been an enormous amount of effort put into studying it. Two professors from Louisville took four years of player data on quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers and concluded that there was no correlation between Wonderlic scores and player performance. Of course, this test was fairly limited in scope as the data set wasn’t huge and the set of players was limited to three positions.

Another study was done years later but only focused on quarterbacks, which the study assumed, would be the position most likely to have a correlation due to the amount of data quarterbacks must quickly process in game situations. This study broke the data down even further to look for correlations between specific performance indicators. After much slicing and dicing of the data, which included removing players who were drafted but never or rarely played, they found a very high correlation between Wonderlic scores and passing yards. Of course, there were outliers as one of the leading passers in NFL history, Dan Marino, scored a lowly 15 while the average score for quarterbacks is generally accepted to be around 24.

While many may debate the validity of the Wonderlic on the performance of quarterbacks or other positions, it’s interesting to note how well most of the quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowls generally scored on the test.


Eli Manning
Tom Brady
Troy Aikman
John Elway
Peyton Manning
Drew Brees
Ben Roethlisberger
Brett Favre
Dan Marino
Terry Bradshaw

Like all standardized testing the Wonderlic is controversial and when you combine standardized testing and football you’re bound to get a whole lot of discussion and debate. Maybe this year’s draft class will help us better understand the relationship between Wonderlic test results and future NFL success.

About the author

Adam Henige is the content manager of www.wonderlictestsample.com, one of the website’s leading resources on the Wonderlic test. This site is also having a contest from April 1st through the end of the draft where the highest score wins a $200 gift card to NFL.com. If you want to take your shot AFTER April 1st, you can find the contest at this link.
I'm going to wait until April 1st to post my unbelievable results.

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So psychometric testing for predicting job performance is, believe it or not, my area of expertise. I won't bore you with the science but the Wonderlic is garbage, and has no validity for predicting most types of job/work performance. It was some kind of crazy marketing coup that the NFL somehow decided to use this tool. There are MUCH better assessments with legitimate validity for predicting work performance but predicting athletic success is MUCH trickier because it is dependent on variables way outside of the cognitive realm.

While most of my work focused on jobs such as sales executives, professional managers, etc., I was part of a team that did research in professional sports --NBA, NHL, and on a smaller scale, NFL. We also worked with Dr. Tom and the team in late 80's and early 90's. We had some interesting and promising results, but the NCAA rules changed, and the time recruits spent doing the assessment counted against their contact time allowed with the University and thus ended the experiment.

The field is complex and relies on advanced statistics. Most studies are poorly designed and there's a lot of snake oil in the business of selling tests for profit to people who have no background or understanding of the science.
Took a sample years ago and scored in the high 30's. My wife said it was obviously a flawed test or I'd have been too smart to be in the construction business.

Little did she know.

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Like any test you need to know how to do it. I did it twice and only had one repeat question. The first time I scored 27 and only got through 31 questions. The second time I made it through all 50 questions and scored a 39. You just have to be willing to move on from the toughest Math questions with a quick educated guess. I found some of them that I could quickly approximate and then jump down to the answers and find one that is close.

I'm guessing that if a person practiced this enough getting a score in the 40's would be pretty easy.

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Like the bench press at the combine, more than anything it lets NFL teams know who may have a major deficiency. You do 23 reps on bench and people will say “ok at least he works.” Get in the 20s/30s on the wonderlic and they’ll know you aren’t a moron. But if you get a 4 like Iowa states RB, it will give pause to people, because there’s no way you can be an instant impact if you can’t learn what to do.

I rushed through it in 10 minutes and got a 37. I feel that I could have done a bit better, but pretty happy with that score.

I'm not a complete idiot, even though I may act like it on here.
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