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The NFL and the Wonderlic Test


The following is a guest article courtesy of Darcy Cudmore, content creator for the Wonderlic Prep Test. If you’d like your work featured on our site, please email or contact us here.

The Wonderlic test is the original cognitive assessment that was created by E.L. Wonderlic back in 1936. It’s the world’s first short-form intelligence test (at only 12 minutes) and contains a variety of numerical, logical, and literacy-focused questions. 

When he originally created the test, Wonderlic worked for a large company who needed to solve two huge hiring issues. The company had inconsistent hiring practices across the country and had issues identifying qualified entry-level candidates. 

Wonderlic discovered that hiring managers depended on one factor for hiring: a gut feeling! He instantly knew that skill tests and interviews weren’t enough and realized that measuring intelligence and overall cognitive ability was the best way to fully understand an applicant.

The problem was that intelligence tests lasted over three hours. So, Wonderlic created the world’s first short-form cognitive test. It had 50 questions in only 12 minutes: and with it Wonderlic verified that measuring a candidates’ cognitive ability was key to making informed hiring decisions.

It wasn’t long until the Wonderlic test become popular with companies, universities, and militaries (such as the US Navy) across the world to measure and screen the cognitive aptitude of applicants. While many employers use the Wonderlic as a screening exam, it’s been famous for a long time as part of the NFL Draft

But why does the NFL use the Wonderlic test?

When employers use the Wonderlic as a convenient IQ test, there’s a reason for it. Many modern psychologists agree that high intelligence is the highest barometer of future success. Brainy employees are more likely to have a positive impact on their company and rise to leadership roles.

The NFL picked up on this thinking and realize that their players need to have high cognitive ability to make good calls, changing circumstances in a game, and think strategically under pressure. Concentration, spatial reasoning, and resourcefulness – all of which are tested in the Wonderlic test.

This is why the Wonderlic is useful intel for teams that goes beyond performance and statistics. They use it to predict the success of a player. And as a result, there are lots of interesting correlations with the data. On average, NFL players get a score of 20 – which is average for the general population also. 

You’ll notice that there are a wide range of player scores also. There is a massive 10-point difference in score between an average halfback and offensive tackle. The data demonstrates that the more offensive the position, the higher the score! On top of this, offensive tackles and centers typically score higher than quarterbacks despite that the quarterback does most of the decision-making. But it does make sense. Centers and offensive tackles are critical factors of a team’s success.

It’s also good to keep in mind that the Wonderlic isn’t always 100% accurate at predicting player success. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick scored a near-genius level 48 but went on to have a below-average career whereas Vince Evans (another QB) scored an 8 and went on to success in the league. Sometimes, people are just lousy test takers. Other times, a person might test well on paper, but the skill isn’t reflected on the playing field.

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While the test isn’t always accurate of a person’s future performance – it IS used to screen candidates for jobs and courses across the world to this day. If you have a Wonderlic test coming up, it’s a great idea to study for the thing with a preparation course. If you put the preparation in, you’ll almost certainly earn a better score.

Want to see the Wonderlic scores of your favourite players? Or the average scores by position and even occupation in the workplace? Check out the Wonderlic NFL test scores here.

If you want to land a quality job and shine above the competition: put the time in and practice! You’ve gotta exercise your mind just like your body! That’s why the NFL likes to get a full picture of the physical and mental ability of their draft picks.

Although a high or low Wonderlic score doesn’t typically correlate with player performance, the NFL likes to do their research – and every player’s Wonderlic score are closely scrutinized by teams, as well as fans of the teams.

This post was created by Darcy Cudmore, content creator for Wonderlic Prep Test.

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