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How the Wonderlic test measures “athletic intelligence”


How the Wonderlic test measures “athletic intelligence”

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Whether it’s from a senior athlete, a sports fan relative, or through your own research, it is very likely that on top of being in top physical condition and having a good record in your school or college’s athlete program, you discover that you will also have to worry about the Wonderlic NFL test if you want to be a professional NFL football player.

Although this may seem confusing since it’s a psychometric test and doesn’t seem to be linked to sports at all, an athlete’s Wonderlic NFL test score can actually cause quite a stir in the sports community.

This is because depending on how well or bad your Wonderlic test goes, your chances of being picked in the NFL draft can either increase or decrease.

By this point, you may already be wondering: just how does the Wonderlic assessment measure one’s athletic intelligence?

Read on to see just how this exam does that and why it affects NFL managers’ decisions when selecting a prospective player.

  1. The test requires you to pay attention extensively

On the field, a NFL player is expected to understand the instructions of his team’s coach no matter how stressed or pressured he is due to the game being neck-and-neck or even if they are currently losing.

With only 2 minutes to spare per timeout, the coach needs to speak fast while explaining the team’s next course of action, and the players will need to do their best to listen and understand him.

If you mishear or misunderstood the new strategy, you may as well just hand over the trophy to the enemy team.

This risk is present in most, if not all, questions of the Wonderlic assessment.

When you take the exam, you will encounter a question that may look similar to the one you encountered earlier but is actually looking for the OPPOSITE of what the first one was asking of you.

Good examples are:

1) “Which of the following choices is not related to ice cream?”

  1. Coffee
  2. Sorbet
  3. Soda
  4. Lemonade

2) “Which of the following choices is related to ice cream?”

  1. Coffee
  2. Sorbet
  3. Soda
  4. Lemonade

For those with keen eyes, the answer will be obvious.

But in the heat of the moment, especially if the test-taker is running out of time, it is not uncommon for them to misread the question and select option A on both of them when in reality only question 1 has that as the correct answer because coffee is a consumable item from the choices that is only served hot while the others are served cold to some extent like ice cream.

Option B is the correct answer for the second question because sorbet is a frozen treat, and thus is related to ice cream.

  • The Wonderlic Test shows how good one’s decision making skills are

A player’s actions on the field can be very unpredictable even with extensive planning and orders from the coach.

When an opening suddenly appears in the enemy team’s defensive line, it will be up to you on whether or not should you stick to the current plan of your team or take a risk with the opportunity.


This goes the same with the Wonderlic tests because it is very unlikely that you are knowledgeable in all the verbal, numerical, logical, and spatial subjects included in it.

If you take the Wonderlic test NFL assessment, you only have 12 minutes to answer a 50-item exam, and you will have to choose between wanting to answer the current question or skip it entirely for something potentially easier, thus securing a point while saving time.

  • It can gauge your sense of compromise

Similar to the previous point, the Wonderlic test, by design, is difficult to complete, and barely a tenth of test-takers can answer the entire 50 question set, much less get a perfect score.

In order to test the test-taker’s critical thinking skills, ‘time traps’ are included in the Wonderlic exam, and they are present for the very purpose of wasting their time.

As a result, it will be up to them to figure out which of the questions are time traps that they can safely skip so that they can answer the easier questions.

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In doing this, they can extend the 14-second-per-question limit, allowing them to get more points.

To summarize, we can see that the Wonderlic assessment measures more than just one’s verbal, numerical, spatial, and logical ability.

After all, for NFL scouts and NFL managers, it isn’t enough that you know how to play football, it is also important that you know how to play football well, and in order to do that, you need to show that you have good decision making and critical thinking skills so that they can be confident that you will make the right call on the field when it matters the most.

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