Understanding the Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam

The leading student admissions test for Career Colleges is the SLE. This short video explains what it is, what it’s used for, and how it can help your school admit students who are likely to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Hey! John Picone here. I wanted to take a second to talk to you about the Scholastic Level Exam, or SLE. We get number of people asking what it is, what it’s used for, and how it can help their school, so I thought I’d share some information with you.

First, the SLE is a cognitive abilities test. If you don’t know what cognitive ability is, check out our blog – we have lots of great information about cognitive ability. But in essence, cognitive ability determines a person’s ability to learn, understand instructions and solve problems – all critical factors when you’re thinking about enrolling students!

SLE score requirements can be tied to each program based on the curriculum and ultimately, the career each program feeds into. It is used by both large and small schools and, since being introduced more than 40 years ago, has become the number one student admissions test for Career Colleges.

So how can the SLE benefit your school and your students? Well, let’s look at some numbers.

We conducted a study on over 11,000 students that were admitted to various colleges using the SLE. We found that SLE scores were significantly and positively related to GPA. Take a look at this chart…

As you can see, the higher the score on the SLE, the higher the student’s GPA. In fact, this pattern was consistent across many types of educational programs, including business administration, pharmacy technician, medical and dental assistants…

But it goes further than just GPA! A 2008 study involving over 1.3 million students found that cognitive abilities tests are predictive of important student outcomes such as performance, completion, and the ability to pass a licensing exam. They are the number one predictor of student success.

Also, strong evidence indicates that cognitive ability is related to students’ future job success and their likelihood of staying at a job longer. We know these factors are important to you, because individuals who are not successful in their jobs are also more likely to default on their loans.

In addition, we discovered that there is a relationship between student cognitive ability and loan default rates in another study we conducted over two decades ago! We found that lower ability students had a higher loan default rate. This suggests that school administrators could significantly reduce default rates by recruiting and selecting students who closely match the ability level associated with students’ chosen vocation.

So there you have it – the Scholastic Level Exam – a very beneficial tool for enrolling students who will do well in school – and beyond.

Thanks for watching – I hope I answered your questions about the SLE. Make sure to check out our blog for more videos and helpful articles from the team here at Wonderlic, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news and information on workplace and human resource issues, student achievement, and more!


Can one prepare for the SLE or practice to get a higher score?

John Picone's picture

The SLE is a measure of general cognitive ability, which is the ability to learn, understand information and instructions and to solve problems. An individual's cognitive ability is a set level of general intelligence and studies have shown that while a person's Math or Verbal skills can improve with practice and study, cognitive ability levels are set early in adulthood. While there are benefits to lessening test anxiety and having a general understanding of the testing experience, improving the score by more than a point or two is not to be expected with multiple testing. 

i made a 12 on the sle and i needed to make a 16 what study resources can i get?

John Moye's picture

We recommend that test takers practice and study math and verbal material.   Also, taking tests that are available online may be useful to familiarize yourself with common testing formats.

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