The Definitive Guide To Wonderlic Test NFL

May 14, 2024
The Definitive Guide To Wonderlic Test NFL

If you’re searching for insight on the ‘NFL IQ test’, look no further. The Wonderlic Personnel Test, a key component of the NFL Scouting Combine, evaluates the cognitive skills of players. In this article, you’ll learn how the test works, its implications for player draft and performance, and its ongoing contribution to the NFL. Plus, discover high and low Wonderlic scores of famous players and how they correlate—or don’t—with NFL success.

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Key Takeaways

  • The Wonderlic Personnel Test, a cognitive ability test originally developed in 1936, has been used by the NFL since the 1970s to evaluate the decision-making skills and cognitive abilities of prospective players, influencing their career prospects.
  • The Wonderlic test, consisting of 50 questions in a 12-minute timeframe, assesses a range of cognitive abilities and does not penalize for incorrect answers, making time management and rapid problem-solving essential for a high score.
  • In 2022, the NFL discontinued the official use of the Wonderlic test at the NFL Scouting Combine, although individual teams may still utilize it for player evaluations, reflecting its diminished but continuing relevance.

Understanding the NFL IQ Test: The Wonderlic

Developed in 1936, the Wonderlic Personnel Test found its place in the NFL in the 1970s, thanks to the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry. The test was designed not to measure a player’s on-field capabilities, but rather to assess their cognitive abilities and decision-making skills under pressure – a crucial aspect of the high-paced, strategic world of professional football.

The Wonderlic test results have long been a significant factor in the NFL draft, influencing the career prospects of countless players. NFL scouts, coaches, and general managers leverage the scores from the Wonderlic test to evaluate the cognitive abilities of prospective players. These scores can provide critical insight into a player’s potential, beyond their physical prowess and on-field performance.

What is the Wonderlic Test?

The Wonderlic test is a cognitive ability test that consists of 50 questions, covering a range of topics to assess verbal, math, and spatial reasoning. With a perfect score of 50, the average score is approximately 20, reflecting an IQ of around 100. The test is designed to be completed in a short timeframe – just 12 minutes – placing a significant emphasis on quick decision-making and efficient time management skills.

Unlike many other tests, the Wonderlic test has the following features:

  • It does not penalize for incorrect answers.
  • Unanswered questions are scored as zeros.
  • Guessing when unsure can be strategic, as there are no penalties for incorrect responses.
  • The test score is calculated based on the number of correct answers, reinforcing the importance of time management and rapid problem-solving skills.

Why is it used in the NFL?

The NFL is not just a game of physical strength and agility, but also a test of mental resilience and strategic thinking. This is particularly true for the quarterback position, where decision-making under pressure can make or break a game. The Wonderlic test, often referred to as the NFL intelligence test, is used in the NFL to gauge these abilities, providing valuable insights into a player’s cognitive aptitude and potential for success in high-pressure situations. The Wonderlic NFL test plays a crucial role in evaluating a player’s readiness for the league.

During the NFL Scouting Combine, an annual event where potential NFL players are evaluated, the Wonderlic test is used to assess players’ problem-solving and decision-making abilities. While physical prowess can be readily observed on the field, the test provides a different perspective, offering a glimpse into the mental agility and cognitive resilience of potential NFL players.

Notable NFL Players and Their Wonderlic Scores

While the Wonderlic test might seem detached from the on-field realities of the NFL, it has played a significant role in the careers of numerous players. Some players have achieved remarkably high scores, showcasing their cognitive abilities, while others have managed to carve out successful careers despite scoring low on the test. The Wonderlic scores of these players often serve as fascinating discussion points, offering a unique perspective into the cognitive side of professional football.

Interestingly, the Wonderlic scores of NFL players often seem to bear no direct correlation to their on-field success. From players achieving the perfect score to those with scores on the lower end of the scale, the NFL boasts a diverse mix of cognitive abilities. This diversity is a testament to the multi-faceted nature of the sport, where physical prowess, strategic thinking, and mental agility all contribute to a player’s success.

High-Scoring NFL Players

High scores on the Wonderlic test are a rarity, but there are some notable exceptions in the NFL. Pat McInally, a former punter for the Cincinnati Bengals, is the only player to have achieved a perfect score of 50, distinguishing him in the league. This impressive feat sets him apart from all other players in NFL history. This feat is a testament to the cognitive prowess that some players possess, even if it may not be directly reflected in their on-field performance. In fact, nfl wonderlic scores can provide an interesting insight into the intellectual abilities of these athletes.

Other high-scoring players on the Wonderlic test include:

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback, with a score of 48
  • Greg McElroy, quarterback, with a score of 48
  • Kevin Curtis, wide receiver, with a score of 48
  • Benjamin Watson, tight end, with a score of 48

These high scores not only provide a valuable glimpse into the cognitive capabilities of these players but also demonstrate that intellectual prowess can coexist with athletic excellence and football IQ in the NFL.

Low-Scoring NFL Players

On the other end of the spectrum, there are players who have scored low on the Wonderlic test yet have achieved remarkable success in the NFL. Lamar Jackson, a quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, is one such example, having scored a 13 on the Wonderlic test. Despite this low score, Jackson went on to win the NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 2019, proving that a low Wonderlic score does not necessarily preclude on-field success.

Similarly, Vince Young, who played quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, scored a 15 on the Wonderlic test. Despite this, he was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006, demonstrating once again that a low Wonderlic score is not a definitive predictor of a player’s success in the NFL. These examples serve as a powerful reminder that while cognitive abilities are important, they are just one piece of the puzzle in the complex and multifaceted world of professional football.

Position-Specific Wonderlic Averages in the NFL

While individual players’ Wonderlic scores can provide fascinating insights, it’s also interesting to examine the average scores for different positions in the NFL. These averages can provide a glimpse into the varied cognitive requirements across different roles, highlighting the diverse range of skills and abilities required in professional football.

From offensive tackles and centers holding some of the highest average scores to defensive positions such as safeties and linebackers having lower averages, the range of Wonderlic scores across different positions is quite wide. This variation reflects the diverse cognitive demands across different roles, reinforcing the notion that the NFL is not just a test of physical strength and agility, but also of mental resilience and strategic thinking.

Quarterbacks and the Wonderlic

The role of the quarterback is one of the most critical in a football team, often referred to as the “field general” for their role in orchestrating the team’s offense. Given the immense responsibility and strategic thinking required for this position, it’s not surprising that quarterbacks have an average Wonderlic score of 24, with a median score of 26.

This high average score reflects the cognitive demands of the quarterback position, where quick decision-making, strategic planning, and the ability to read and react to complex situations are crucial. While a high Wonderlic score is not a pre-requisite for success as a quarterback, it can provide an edge, indicating a player’s ability to effectively handle the cognitive demands of this pivotal role.

Offensive Tackles and Running Backs

In contrast to quarterbacks, offensive tackles and running backs have different average Wonderlic scores, reflecting the unique cognitive demands of their respective roles. Offensive tackles have the highest average score in the NFL, with an average of 26, highlighting the significant cognitive demands associated with this position.

On the other hand, running backs have the lowest average Wonderlic score among NFL positions, with an average of 16. This lower average score does not necessarily reflect a lack of cognitive ability, but rather the different cognitive tasks these players face on the field.

This stark contrast in scores between offensive tackles and running backs, such as Tom Brady, underscores the diverse range of cognitive capabilities required across different positions in the NFL.

Preparing for the NFL Wonderlic Test

While the Wonderlic test may seem daunting to prospective NFL players, proper preparation can significantly enhance performance. From mastering time management strategies to regular practice with timed simulations, there are numerous ways to prepare for the test and maximize potential.

Understanding the test’s format, including the presence of a timer, navigation buttons, and multiple-choice questions, is also vital for success. Furthermore, reinforcing areas of difficulty before the actual test can significantly improve performance, ensuring candidates are well-prepared for every aspect of the test.

Time Management Strategies

Effective time management is a crucial aspect of success on the Wonderlic test. Given the test’s format, which allows only about 14 seconds per question, candidates must be adept at managing their time and making quick decisions.

One effective strategy is to start by answering easier questions first, securing quick points and saving more time for the challenging ones. During practice, it’s also important to focus on covering a breadth of questions rather than fixating on any single one.

Lastly, allocating a brief period to review answers can help mitigate the risk of making obvious errors under the constraint of time.

Practice Resources

There are numerous resources available to help prospective NFL players prepare for the Wonderlic test. From free online resources offering practice questions and full answers to platforms such as JobTestPrep that provide accurate simulations and explanations, candidates have a wealth of resources at their disposal.

Timed Wonderlic-style practice tests can be particularly beneficial, helping to enhance time management skills and acclimatize candidates to the pressure of the actual test. Furthermore, structured courses specifically designed for Wonderlic test preparation can offer sample lessons and curriculum reviews, providing a comprehensive preparation approach.

The NFL Scouting Combine and the Wonderlic

The NFL Scouting Combine is an annual event that assesses the mental and physical capabilities of prospective players ahead of the NFL draft. For many years, the Wonderlic test was a critical part of this evaluation process, providing valuable insights into players’ cognitive abilities.

However, in 2022, the NFL made the decision to discontinue the use of the Wonderlic test at the Combine. Despite this, individual teams can still opt to use the test to evaluate players, indicating that while its official status may have changed, the Wonderlic test continues to play a role in the NFL.

The NFL Scouting Combine Process

The NFL Scouting Combine is a week-long event that includes a comprehensive evaluation process for college football players. The Combine includes:

  • Interviews
  • Skill assessments
  • Psychological evaluations
  • Medical testing

This holistic assessment provides valuable information for evaluating potential NFL players.

Physical assessments at the Combine include:

  • 40-yard dash
  • Bench press
  • Vertical jump
  • Broad jump
  • Agility drills such as the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill

These tests provide a comprehensive overview of a player’s physical capabilities, complementing the mental assessments that were traditionally conducted through the Wonderlic test.

The Importance of Wonderlic Scores in the Combine

Despite its long-standing role in the NFL Scouting Combine, the importance of the Wonderlic test has been a subject of debate. While the test can provide valuable insights into a player’s cognitive abilities, its relevance to a player’s on-field performance has been questioned.

In fact, research has indicated that there is no significant correlation between Wonderlic scores and a player’s performance on the field. This has led to the test’s discontinuation at the Combine, although individual teams may still choose to use it in their private evaluations of players.

Controversies and Accuracy of the NFL Wonderlic Test

Like any assessment tool, the Wonderlic test is not without its controversies. From concerns about its accuracy to debates about its relevance to football, the test has been the subject of numerous debates and discussions.

Issues such as potential cheating, where agents allegedly provide players with test questions before the actual test, have cast doubt on the integrity of the Wonderlic scores. Moreover, the publication of low Wonderlic scores has at times led to unjust public mockery of players’ intelligence, raising ethical concerns about the use of the test.

Criticisms of the Wonderlic Test

The Wonderlic test has faced numerous criticisms over the years. Critics argue that the test lacks relevance to football skills and does not accurately assess the intelligence needed for the sport. Furthermore, the test has been criticized for potential racial and socioeconomic biases, which can influence the fairness and accuracy of intelligence assessment in the NFL.

These criticisms highlight the complexities of assessing cognitive abilities in the context of professional sports. While cognitive skills are undoubtedly important, the Wonderlic test may not provide a comprehensive or entirely accurate measure of these abilities in relation to football.

The Future of the NFL Wonderlic Test

Despite the controversies and criticisms, the future of the Wonderlic test in the NFL remains uncertain. In 2022, the NFL decided to remove the Wonderlic test from the combined assessments as part of an overall audit of the event’s activities. However, individual teams may still choose to use the test during their private evaluations of players.

While the Wonderlic test may no longer be an official part of the NFL’s player evaluation process, its legacy in the league is undeniable. As the NFL continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how cognitive assessment methods adapt and change in response to the complex and ever-evolving demands of the sport.


The Wonderlic test, with its unique role in the NFL, offers a fascinating glimpse into the cognitive side of professional football. From influencing draft picks to providing insights into the cognitive aptitudes of players, the test has left an indelible mark on the NFL.

While the future of the Wonderlic test in the NFL remains uncertain, its legacy endures. As we’ve seen, high scores on the test do not guarantee on-field success, just as low scores do not preclude it. Ultimately, the world of professional football is a complex arena where physical prowess, strategic thinking, and mental agility all play a role. And the Wonderlic test, despite its controversies, has offered a unique perspective into this fascinating world.

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