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What is the Wonderlic Test?

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Examining the NFL Combine’s weirdest test.

LSU v Alabama

In the midst of the NFL Draft season, you have likely heard of the Wonderlic test. With all the athletic testing draft prospects undergo, NFL teams want to test intelligence too, or at least attempt to. This test is what we’re here to investigate and eventually compete in.

The Wonderlic test is, in short, a cousin of the IQ test. It asks various kind of question to test for analytical skills, language ability, and overall critical thinking. It’s a 50-question test conducted in 12 minutes, meaning each question has less than 15 seconds to answer. As fast-paced as it is, it’s more important to answer quickly than to take your time to find the correct answer. When you see a brutally low score — such as Morris Claiborne’s 4 out of 50 — it’s more likely because they couldn’t keep up with the pace and failed to answer many questions.

This test, however, is critically flawed. The most obvious issue with it is that if the test is predicated on speed, the test will brutal for people who struggle with reading. It doesn’t matter if you’re studying aerospace engineer, if English isn’t your native language or you have dyslexia, NFL teams could pass on you for a lack intelligence. Besides reading skill, this test could be brutal for someone whose only flaw is test anxiety. There are also issues of racial and cultural biases (among others) that also make the IQ test practically worthless.

As much as we talk about this test, we have to consider whether or not it even means anything. Was Vince Young’s career doomed because he scored a 6? What about Ryan Fitzpatrick, king of mediocrity, who scored a 48? There are some examples where it may appear that intelligence made a difference between players, such as Marcus Mariota (33) and Jameis Winston (27), but there is no correlation between Wonderlic score and performance. In fact, some studies have found a negative correlation, interestingly enough.

It’s fine to try to quantify certain parts of a player’s intangibles, but it can be precarious to measure someone’s intelligence because it neglects what actually makes a player successful on and off the field. Besides, If Ryan Mallett (26) can significantly outscore Christian McCaffrey (21), you know you have a flawed test.

Anyway, the point of this article is to advertise a competition the Wonderlic test is hosting. From now until to the NFL Draft on April 26th, you can compete for a $200 prize awarded to the highest score on the Wonderlic’s practice exam, which can be found here. Jack Barsch scored a 44 and I scored a 42, so you’re going to have stiff competition for best on the Ralphie Report community. You can hope all the biases and flaws of the test favor you.