What's up with the Wonderlic Test?

By J.M. Nicholas

With the NFL Scouting Combine beginning in Indianapolis this weekend, dozens of potential pro football players will put their physical and mental skills to the test. Along with lifting weights and running routes, these young men will also be subject to a twelve-minute, fifty question test of aptitude for learning and problem solving.

The Wonderlic test is a timed quiz, with questions ranging in various degrees of difficulty, which become more complex as the test goes along. A player’s score is based on how many correct answers are given in the twelve minute time frame. A perfect score is 50, with an average score of 20 for most positions.

Success with the Wonderlic test does not always transfer to success in the NFL. The connection between the test and a player’s potential in the NFL is debatable. Some noteworthy scores in the past, both negative and positive, have ended up with varied results. Buffalo Bills quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, scored a 48. It is rumored that Vince Young scored a 6 in his first attempt, then tried a second time, with a score of 16. Donovan McNabb had a Wonderlic score of 14. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski scored only a 9 on the test. Peyton Manning, a four-time NFL MVP, scored a 28 on the Wonderlic.

The questions on the test range from simple word recognition, to math, to questions on whether or not a player wets the bed (seriously). Some other sample questions are listed below.

1. Assume the first two statements are true. Is the final one:

a. true,   b. false,   c. not certain?

The boy plays baseball. All baseball players wear hats. The boy wears a hat.

2. Rope sells for $.10 a foot. How many feet can you buy for sixty cents?

3. Which number in the following group represents the smallest amount?

7,     .8,     31,     .33,     2

It is true that every possible skill can (and will be) measured at some point in an NFL player’s career. These teams are putting not only a huge investment, but possibly the future of their franchise, on the shoulders of these young prospects. A bench press or a Wonderlic test cannot totally represent what kind of superstar a player may or may not develop into, but it never hurts to know that a team has been doing their homework before the draft. Only time will tell, but one thing that cannot be measured on a scale or timed on a stopwatch, is a player’s heart.

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