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What a Wonderlic World

I experienced what it’s like to be an NFL hopeful by taking my own Wonderlic test. The pressure was on!

What a Wonderlic World


Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Each year, as we inch closer to the NFL Draft, more than 200 rookie hopefuls undergo a rite of passage that most players since the 1970’s have had to endure: The Wonderlic Test.

Reports are that, because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of an NFL combine, only a small group of players took the Wonderlic this draft season. Even so, it has and will continue to be a highly (over?) analyzed part of a rookie’s potential to be a successful NFL player.

While I won’t be having a pro day or posting a 40 time at the NFL combine, I decided to simulate at least part of the draft experience by taking my own Wonderlic test.

The History

The Wonderlic Contemporary Cognitive Ability Test was invented by Eldon F. Wonderlic in 1936. While known by sports fans for its use in the NFL scouting combine, the test was created as an assessment for cognitive ability and problem solving for a variety of occupations.

Hall of Fame Coach Tom Landry first brought the test to the NFL in the 1970’s to try to predict a player’s performance, and the NFL has now used it for about 50 years.

The average score among all NFL players during that time is 24 (out of 50). The best performing players are offensive tackles, with an average of 26, while running backs have historically done the worst, averaging a 16.

The Test

There are 50 multiple-choice questions in the Wonderlic test, and takers have 12 minutes to complete the exam. That means that you have just over 14 seconds to answer each question.

According to Wonderlic, it was purposely created with a short time limit so that only 2-5% of those tested are able to complete the entire test.

Taking the Wonderlictest is like taking the SATs while playing speed chess at the same time. There are basically four types of questions:

  1. Math Problems – most of them are similar to the old “two trains at different speeds” problem. Example: “Tickets to a play are $12.00 for adults. Children receive a discount and only have to pay $8.00. If 40 people attend the play and the play brought in $440, then _____ children attended the play.
  2. Vocabulary comprehension problems.
    Example: The words PERCEIVE and DISCERN have ______ meanings.
    a) Similar
    b) Unrelated
    c) Contradictory
  3. Analogies. Ah, good old analogies.
    Example: ___ is to Purchase as Hunger is to Eat
    a) Money
    b) Salary
    c) Need
    d) Buy
    e) Store
  4. True/False Statements
    Example: If the first two statements are true, is the third statement true?
    Karl is in line behind Samantha.
    Jim is in front of Samantha and Tevin.
    Karl is in line behind Jim.

The 12 minutes flies by, and I did my best to just look at the questions and not to try to check the clock. I only looked up at the clock once, and I had about 4.5 minutes left. I thought I was less than halfway through my time at that point.

So How Did I Do?

I scored a 32 on the Wonderlic test. I’m pretty happy with that score, considering it was the first time I had ever taken it, and I didn’t do a whole lot of prep. Having taken it once, I think that I would probably do better on a second attempt.

There were a few math questions that I knew I could work out and get the right answer, but I ended up spending about a minute or so on them. I might consider skipping some of those questions in an attempt to rack up more answers on reading or verbal questions, which didn’t take as much of my time.

My one regret is that I came up one point shy of tying Tom Brady’s score of 33.

I guess I can finally admit that Brady’s a better quarterback than me.

Craig has spent the last ten years as a sports information professional, working for several schools across New England at the Division 3 level. A native of Peabody, Mass., Craig is a life-long Boston sports fan. He is also an avid player of fantasy football and baseball, and commissioner of the AKA Family Fantasy Football League. Like most other Turf team members, Craig has a penchant for theater, spending his high school and college years as a set designer, sound designer and theater shop worker. He became a father shortly before the coronavirus pandemic, and as such, hasn't really left his home since last December.

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