The top 7 questions about the Wonderlic Test and the NFL Scouting Combine

The NFL Draft often brings questions to Wonderlic regarding how our test of cognitive ability relates to football. In this article we share some of the most frequently asked questions relating to the Wonderlic test and its use at the NFL Combine, where our test is administered. Each year, the NFL Scouting Combine incorporates a wide variety of tools to evaluate the physical and mental acuity of potential NFL players, including testing for on-field skills, speed, strength, quickness, reliability, personality, and cognitive ability. The NFL Combine has used the Wonderlic Test to assess cognitive ability as part of its athlete evaluations since the 1970s.    

What is the Wonderlic Test? 

The NFL Scouting Combine uses the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT-R), which measures a person’s ability to think, learn, solve problems and follow instructions. These are critical traits a football player needs to have, particularly one coming into the NFL, where gameplay is much faster and decisions must be made in the blink of an eye. The Wonderlic test does not measure whether a potential player can read, spell, or do math; it doesn’t look at their motivation or personality on or off field. There are other tests for measuring these traits.

How is the Wonderlic Test relevant to football?

Can a player understand the playbook, know where they need to be on the field, make intelligent decisions, learn quickly...? This information is vital to consider when teams are making draft decisions – especially between players with very similar physical skills. With millions of dollars at stake, teams need to consider all available indicators of a player’s mental and physical abilities. 

“The Wonderlic test is one of several evaluations that we use to get a complete picture of the athletes. All the methods the NFL Scouting Combine uses are valuable tools, each providing a unique set of information about each player. The more insight teams have before the draft, the better decisions they can make. Wonderlic has been a valued partner of the Combine and the NFL for decades and we fully intend to continue that partnership into the foreseeable future.” - Jeffrey Foster, NFL Scouting Combine

Are the test scores that are reported in the media correct?

Wonderlic regards the confidentiality of test results as a top priority. Wonderlic staff attend the NFL Combine to administer and proctor the tests. All tests are then taken back to our office and scored. The test results are kept in our highly secure, encrypted system and are not shared with anyone but our client. Test scores are released only to appropriate NFL Combine representatives. Therefore, any Wonderlic test scores reported by the media are not official and potentially inaccurate.

How secure are the Wonderlic Test questions?

Because Wonderlic has updated the test repeatedly over the decades, and different forms are in use, it’s very difficult for anyone to get their hands on actual test questions. And if they did – the odds are very low that those are the same test questions that will be on the actual exam the player takes. This test has been around long enough that Wonderlic has a very large library of validated, reliable test questions. We have very stringent security measures in place to protect the integrity of the test, as well as the scores from all test takers. In fact, if the actual test questions were available ahead of time, then a substantial proportion of test takers would have very high scores, which is not the case.

Is it easy for test takers to cheat?

You can’t fake a cognitive ability test. Either you know the answers or you don’t. Research shows that when a player takes the test several times using different forms, they are likely to get the same score.

When was the Wonderlic Test developed?

The original form of the test was developed in 1937, with new forms being created and released frequently. In the past few years, the test underwent a major update with new item types that incorporate the latest findings in the science of testing.

One of the advantages to using a test that has been around this long is the sheer volume of data that supports its use. There are thousands of independent studies that show the test is a valid predictor of performance in a wide variety of situations. In addition, tens of thousands of organizations worldwide have strong confidence in the relevance and usefulness of Wonderlic test scores to include them as part of their evaluation of millions of job candidates.

Is there more to Wonderlic than just the Wonderlic Test?

The NFL digs deeper with tests to evaluate several factors crucial to player performance. In the same way, Wonderlic can help you quantify performance-related factors for employees and students alike. Wonderlic offers a variety of assessments for business and education to assess personality, motivation and skills at any level.

For more info on Wonderlic assessments, please visit www.wonderlic.com.

Loren Purcell is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with Wonderlic, Inc. 

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